Russian is the common language, though dozens of other languages are spoken by ethnic minorities. It’s relatively easy to find English speakers in the big cities, but not so easy in smaller towns and the countryside. Learning Cyrillic and a few key phrases will help you enormously in being able to decode street signs, menus and timetables.
English-language publications in Moscow and St Petersburg carry advertisements for Russian-language schools and tutors. The cost of formal coursework varies widely, but one-on-one tutoring can be a bargain – numerous professors and other highly skilled people are anxious to augment their incomes by teaching you Russian.
Another option for learning Russian is through one of the many international universities operating in Moscow and St Petersburg. These are usually affiliated with a school in either Britain or the USA. Or you could take a course through the Eurolingua Institute (www.eurolingua.com), which offers homestays combined with language courses.
Russian Street Names
We use the Russian names of all streets and squares to help you when deciphering Cyrillic signs and asking locals the way. To save space, we use the following abbreviations.