The Most Overlooked Tool for Beginners Learning Russian

When you speak Italian, you need to open your mouth wide. When you speak American English, you need to open your mouth about halfway. But when you speak Russian, you need to keep your mouth mostly closed.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you when you are learning Russian is to keep you mouth closed! If you are a native speaker of English, it turns out to be very hard to keep your mouth closed enough to easily say Russian words. Here’s how to make it easier.

Get a Mirror Then Do This

1. Put a fingernail (not your entire finger, just the nail) between your front teeth and lightly bite down on it. That’s about the most your mouth should open when speaking Russian.

2. Get a mirror and watch yourself in it to make sure you are keeping your mouth closed. It’s a lot of fun to practice with a mirror as long as you have a good attitude. You can feel like a kid again!

3. Try biting down on a toothpick and saying your Russian words with the toothpick between your back teeth. This will keep your jaw in the right position. With the toothpick between your teeth, try to practice your Russian words. Focus on moving your lips and your tongue to make the sounds come out right.

After you get the idea of how to keep your jaw closed, it will be okay to move your jaw a little when you are speaking Russian. However, Russian is mostly a “mouth closed” language.

Learning Russian is a lot of fun! Get started with us today.

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    Mary Putt

    Thank you for helping me want to learn more. It will be fun learning Russian, not so overwhelmed. Mary

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    Great idea!! Does this observation relate at all to the common perception that Russians do not smile in public and culturally may perceive anyone smiling too often or easily as foolish or a clown?? I am really enjoying my Russian studies!! I leave in a month to visit Russia for the first time!!

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      Roger, this is hilarious! I am Ukrainian/Russian and I can tell you that Russians not smiling much is a cultural thing. It has nothing to do with speaking mechanics. We do smile and laugh a lot, but we don’t tend to smile at total strangers. Pointing your finger at people is another cultural taboo.

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