Online Russian Language Course - Lesson #1

author Kateryna Samokhvalova

The First Steps in Reading Russian. Letter A а.

Hi there! If you decided it is time to study Russian by yourself, this article will be very useful to you. What do you think is the first thing to study before diving into grammatical topics? That's right - you need to learn to read and pronounce things right. Otherwise, Russian speakers may not understand at first what you are saying. Although it is pretty difficult to teach to read without actually hearing the student, I will try to do my best, considering that I can predict possible mistakes, like the ones my students make. So, let's talk about the alphabet first. Russian alphabet contains 33 letters: 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 signs - a hard sign "ъ" and a soft sign "ь". These two exist to separate consonants from vowels either softly or in a hard way but they are not used in every Russian word. Do not worry if this seems complicated to you, it is not so. You will learn more about a hard and a soft sign later on.

Russian Alphabet

Russian Alphabet Today, I will teach you how to read letter A a. The first rule that you need to consider every time you get down to read in Russian sounds like this: letters just look the same, pronunciation is different. Indeed, you will see some letters of the same shape in Russian, but only few are read in the same way. So, be careful and remember that this is a foreign language. Let's get down to work. Follow these simple instructions to start reading in Russian:

  1. When you see Russian A, make sure you don't pronounce [eɪ] as in English. It never sounds like this. It is a Russian sound "uh".
  2. The next step is to link a consonant and letter A (uh). The consonant that we will take as an example is Russian M м. This is an equivalent of American M m. However, Russian alphabet has the same shape of upper and lower cases. Now, link M-A. You need to get [muh] sound. And if you make it twice as in M-A-M-A, you will get the most popular word 'mother'. Try it again м-а-м-а. Nice.

Task 1. Look into the alphabet chart and try to pronounce these words.

М-а-м-а task 1
П-а-п-а
Н-а-н-а
К-а-к-а
Л-а-л-а

You are doing great!

  1. The third step in the reading process is to get used to stress marks. While you are a beginner, in your reading guides you will see such a symbol as this ̀. It is a stress mark. It is usually typed over a vowel that is in stressed position.

Task 2. Pay attention to the stress and read the words properly.

М-̀а-м-а task 2
К-а-в-̀а
Л-̀а-п-а
Д-а-р-̀а
Д-̀а-м-а

Now, when you can read some words with Russian letter A а, proceed to the next article for further learning. If you do not feel confident about your knowledge and would like to take private lessons via skype, please, apply for a free trial lesson here.

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