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Mar 30th 2009 5:57PM I too am a native Russian speaker and have to chime in- Russian is one of the hardest languages to learn in the world.
What makes it fun and practical to learn is the amount of information available in Russian (staggering), the robust maturity of the language (I can read texts from the 13th century in Russian, yet Shakespeare still eludes me, even though I am fully bi-lingual and was born in the USA)and the sheer expressive beauty of it (the complexity of grammar does allow for brevity of expression - what would need three words in English- say "Cute Tiny Hands" would need just one suffix denoting abovesaid cuteness and tininess.
"Ruka" means hand, "Ruchka" means cute tiny hand.
Just one very specialized suffix.
The prefixes are also magical in the complexity of meaning they allow, instead of just "to kill (убить)", you can
"to underkill (недобить)" "to overkill (забить)" "to gottiredstoppedkill(подзабить)" etc etc.
In short, if you care to be creative in your language acquisition skills and find fun in learning, Russian is a magical endeavor that will change your thinking and your life.
I would strongly suggest against learning in an academic environment unless you can pair it with immersion.
And last, Do not bring your samovar when you visit, as they say in Russia.
Meaning go to Russia, go there single, and date a Russian.
If you want to learn a language, sleep with a translator.