How to Tell if Someone is Russian – So You Can Practice Russian

When you are starting to learn Russian, it’s a lot of fun to meet Russians and try to talk to them in Russian. This is usually a very pleasant way to make new friends.

However, when you are just starting out, it’s really hard to tell the difference between a Russian accent and a French or German accent. Even after you are fluent in Russian, it might still be hard to tell the difference between someone speaking English with a Russian accent or a Polish accent.

Say You Like Their Accent

You need to do something to let people know you are friendly. People whose native language is Russian can be a little bit afraid to tell you where they originally were from because immigrants and travelers sometimes aren’t treated very well. To reassure them that you mean well, here’s what to do.

Say something like, “I like your accent; where are you from?” This lets them know you are friendly, and it lets them know that they should tell you about growing up in Moscow, not about the apartment where they now live in New York City.

This Works in a Lot of Places

I’ve used this method to meet Russians everywhere from Hawaii to New Zealand to London. It’s disarming, and it’s a good way to switch to talking in Russian.

Of Course You are Being Honest

Can you honestly say that you like their accent? Of course, you can. You will soon be speaking Russian with an accent (at least at first), and it’s high time that you develop a love for interesting accents. It’s a great way to meet Russians outside of Russia.

Would You Like to Learn Russian?

If you think you would like to learn Russian, it’s a good idea to test out several different programs to see which one works for you.

I tell my friends that they should try two different programs for 30 minutes each, and then buy the one where they can remember more Russian several days later.

Click here to try my favorite program for learning Russian.

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    Here are some signs to see if you’re listening to someone speak English with a Russian accent:
    -if they speak in a monotone
    -if they avoid using “to be”
    -if they omit little words like “the, a, an, to”
    -if they roll their R’s
    -if they pronounce a guttural H
    -if they pronounce ‘w’ as ‘v’
    -if they pronounce ‘th’ as ‘z’
    -if they pronounce ‘I’ as “ee”
    -emphasizing the end of “-ing” even turning it into a “k” sound

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    emilyg is right, you will also hear Russians (and some Ukrainians) sometimes overuse the word “the” in English.

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    As someone who lives in a foreign country and has an accent, please *do not do this*.

    When we’re just trying to blend in and live our lives, the last thing we want is to be called out for our foreignness and used for language practice.

    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      Of course you wouldn’t like it if someone singled you out for your accent in a negative way. However what I am suggesting is that people learn how to gently welcome you with the love and enthusiasm for your culture that I share.

      So thank you for making this post and please know that I think your accent is lovely! I really do.

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    Russian is my native language. I started to learn English recently. I’ll be glad to help studying Russian language and instead start practicing English. Skype – salinno-1

    ———–Google translation above. Original below.————–

    Русский мой родной язык. Я начала изучать английский недавно. Буду рада помочь изучающим русский язык а взамен начать практиковать английский. Skype – salinno-1

    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      Hi Ekaterina,

      I wish we had a way to find a language exchange partner.

      In my experience, language exchange works well when both students can already carry on a conversation in their new language. Also talking about the same thing first in one language and then the other helps a lot.

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    I am russian native speaker. I will be happy to help you with russian in exchange you will help me with english. I am studying eng by myself and i think my level is average. So i won’t die in english speaking country but i need to tune it up. Write me on fb if you think we can help each other. Dont be afraid of my empty profile. It was actually created for finding people on such websites like this one for practice. Feel free asking any question here:

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    I don’t know how to speak russian but I can do a russian accent

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      Viktor Zahn

      Hello. I am a person from Russia who has lived in the America for a good time. It is good here and I like English. I’d like to tell you all that the accent is a something we do not like to talk about. We get not nice words for it. I wanted to see how English men and women try to talk to us. The saying I like your accent is nice so please treat us like that.

      I would like to say “well done” to the person who wrote this page.

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    Penney Nile

    I am a sucker for foreign accents; I think they are all beautiful. I am originally from Texas and now live in Southern California, and I am always getting compliments on my accent. I know that’s not like being from a different country like Russia, but I love listening to someone speak Russian. I would love to learn the language, but right now, my vocabulary is limited to ‘Da.’, ‘Nyet’ and ‘Dostvedanya.” Don’t know if I spelled that last one right, but I think it means something like cheers, or salute, doesn’t it ? Anyway, don’t let someone asking about your accent scare you… most people just want to get to know you and something about the culture in your part of the world.

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    Hello, Penney Nile. I am native Russian speaker, like the others above. I had just wanted to say that ‘dasvidaniya’ is a form of goodbye, not a salute or cheers. If you want to learn more about Russian language, I suggest a website? Or a language learning website?

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