What do you imagine when you hear the word “Russia”?
- Its beautiful cities?
- Its vibrant society?
- The largest country in the world?
- The bear?
- Vladimir Putin?
If you are from the Western world, you probably thought of the latter points first. And it’s not the case with most other countries. Think of the word “France”. Politics isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, right? People who live far away from France will usually think of baguettes before they think of François Hollande. A bread loaf beats the president!
Not in Russia. And yet, even with that in mind, we were surprised to see how greatly politics affect the general image of Russia. It’s clearly visible on issues that have nothing to do with politics. For example, the Russian language abroad. It’s very difficult to find people willing to learn Russian! How do we know it’s because of politics? Let’s investigate.
THE RUSSIAN OPINION ON THEIR POLITICS
Russian people see their country in a completely different light than we do. The Kremlin controls the media and depicts Vladimir Putin as a hero. Some even call him a tsar. Sociologists note that according to the public opinion, western model of democracy doesn’t fit Russia. Therefore, where we see aggression, Russians see righteousness and justice. Local televisions have been recently showing Ukraine more than their own country. All this to make sure that people agree with Kremlin entering Ukraine in the first place. And if some don’t agree, certain agents quickly deal with anyone who dares to oppose Kremlin openly. Just remember all those journalists we keep hearing about. However, Russian people don’t see any problem with such methods and consider Russia a democratic country.
PUTIN DOESN’T WANT YOU TO LEARN RUSSIAN
We hear what you’re saying:
Wait a minute. Weren’t you talking about the Russian language abroad? How does politics even remotely relate to language learning?
Now here’s the big picture. It’s obvious that the Kremlin uses mass media to construct the Western world as something different, something other than Russia. In some cases, as an outright enemy. The same strategy can be seen in our home country, Lithuania. We often depict Russia as an enemy here, too.
Imagine that you were among those who form public opinion. How would you strengthen this idea of an enemy? You would try to show this enemy as much foreign as possible. Someone who is impossible to understand. And what’s the most basic and important factor to understanding each other? It’s the language. It’s easier to make enemies among divided people who cannot understand each other, who do not speak each others’ languages. So the Kremlin doesn’t want their people to travel abroad and doesn’t want Russians to consume media other than their own. At the same time, the Kremlin doesn’t want you to learn Russian. And they do a very good job at that, as you can see. However, if you could understand Russians, you would see that they’re the same people as us. The only difference is that they’re living in a different culture.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE ABROAD
Are we enemies with Russians? Countries might be enemies in the political sense. People aren’t countries. The idea of an enemy is wrong. We have learnt languages with many awesome Russians, worked with them together, had many great moments. Take Katya for example. There is just one difference between these inspiring people and those who stay in Russia without any contact to the outside world. One of the things that make this difference is language, because it breaks down the walls between people and countries. So Russians learning European languages aren’t enough. We, Europeans and Americans, should contribute and learn Russian as well.
Because the more people in the Western world will know it, the more peaceful the world will become.
And if you need more practical reasons…
WHAT ELSE MAKES RUSSIAN USEFUL TO YOU?
Let’s remember the basic facts that make the Russian language important to every citizen of the world. Politics excluded.
- Russian is the 6th most spoken language in the world with roughly 270 million speakers¹.
- It’s the most widely understood language across the Eurasia. So it’s a must for travellers in this side of the world.
- Although official in 4 countries only, there are many other countries where Russian is more popular than any other language.
- There are only few countries that don’t have Russian-speaking communities. So you can use this language almost anywhere.
- It’s quite easy to learn. Especially with Bliu Bliu.
- If you learn Russian, it will be easier to acquire other Slavic languages: Polish, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Czech and so on.
- Think that’s it? Oh, far from it. Find even more reasons right here.
Are you convinced that the popularity of the Russian language abroad matters? What do you think about this situation? Let us know in the comments! And if you agree with us, then:
What are you waiting for? ;)
¹These numbers vary according to different criteria and the time of the statistic.