Is it possible to reach a B2/C1 in Russian in 4~5 years, when I have no prior experience with Russian or any related language?

I'm studying Russian 1 hour a day every single day. Is this enough? I'm currently using Duolingo and basic Russian books. How far can I go with this?

Also, once I'm done with the books, what else can I do?

Here are some of the books I'm currently reading:

My learning method (if you call it that) is basically listening, writing and repeating what's in the book.

I'm planning to watch some Russian tv shows/movies once I get a decent understanding of the language.

  • 5
    Your native language also plays a role, e.g. another Slavic language, another Indo-European (non-Slavic) language,...
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 12, 2017 at 18:10
  • 1
    @TommiBrander I don't have any, I do know german though
    – Trey
    Nov 13, 2017 at 16:09
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    I'm a native German speaker and learned Polish (structure and complexity comparable to Russian) some years ago. I reached approximately B2 level after 4 years of a 90-minutes, once-a-week evening course, supported by a handful of visits to Poland and watching Polish TV from time to time. Nov 13, 2017 at 19:49

3 Answers 3


I am going to assume that your native language is a Germanic language (English or German?). The CEFR or CEFRL describes skill levels for four skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. At CEFR level B2 you should have the following abilities (quoted from Wikipedia):

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

The activities described in the question take care of the skills of listening, reading and writing, but don't do a lot for speaking skills because repeating dialogues is insufficient. In order to practise oral skills, you need to find speakers of Russian you can interact with. This can be done by taking language classes (check in advance whether they are sufficiently oriented towards communication!), finding a private teachers (expensive, unless you find a group of four or five other people to share the expense) and/or finding a language partner (the cheapest solution, but do not treat tandem partners as teachers). Benny Lewis is the most outspoken advocate of practising oral skills and goes as far as saying that you should speak from day one. (This is not for everyone, even though Benny Lewis says it is.)

Finally: how long would this take? That depends on many factors, such as the efficiency of your learning method, your choice of learning materials (i.e. their quality and level), your study schedule (avoid 60-minute sessions; spread your learning over the day; use the Pomodoro technique to avoid long sessions) and possibly talent.

The Belgian language school where I learnt most of my Chinese offers 7 years of Russian language classes: the first three years take you to level A2; years 4-7 take you to level B1. Each "school year" has 120 classroom hours and you should spend 1-2 hours per week on the language at home. That's roughly 7 times 180 hours, or 840 hours in total, to reach level B1 (not B2!). So 1100 classroom hours may be just enough to reach level B2, as Vitaly says in his answer, but you should add at least 400 hours of private study to that. So I guess that at a rate of 1 hour per day, you can reach level B2 in just over four years.

  • Just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on duolingo?
    – Trey
    Nov 13, 2017 at 18:33
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    @Trey I haven't tried Duolingo (and comments are not a good place for this type of discussions), but our site has several questions about Duolingo. You can always try asking a new question about it.
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 13, 2017 at 18:36

Assuming that your first language is English, or another Romance or Germanic language. According to Foreign Service Institute it takes 1100 class hours to learn Russian language to achieve level 3 in reading and speaking. I would say that level 3 is close enough to B2, but you can judge for yourself (ILR skill level descriptions - click on the links at the top navigation bar).

It's definitely possible to fit 1100 of hours of language studying over 4-5 years. However, studying under tutelage of an experienced educator is much easier and more efficient, than doing it on your own. Whatever studying methods you choose: flash cards, audio courses, travelling, text books. One thing is important, as mentioned in this answer - it should be enjoyable.


The short answer is yes, it is totally possible. I can state that based on my personal experience.

I just passed B2 level exam in Danish with a good average (8,25). It took me 3 years (42 weeks per year, 5-15 hours per week; in total around 1300 hours). And I am native in Russian, thought my English is at B2-C2 level (as I have never tested it after I reached B2 in high school).

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