Russian is a native language for 154 million people, with around 265 million total speakers. Russia’s population has around 190 different ethnic groups and nationalities, so learning Russian provides the learner with a broad perspective of the world that stems from a plethora of eastern European and Central Asian cultures. Examples of other countries where Russian is a popular or official language include Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Knowing this information helps us understand why Russian is classified as a critical need language.
Russian is officially recognized as the language for business, media, education, and politics in many of these countries. The list of what is considered a critical language changes sometimes, but we can be certain the Russian will remain one for the foreseeable future. Russian is less commonly taught in the United States than the likes of Spanish, French, and German. It is easy to see why, given the difficulty of the language for English speakers, and the relative lack of Russian language speakers in the United States, let alone instructors! This is why Russian is a critical language; the language is seldom taught to students in the United States, even though the government is in urgent need of speakers.
The government would like more speakers of Russian for various jobs, among them being interpretation, translation, conduction of business, and strengthening diplomatic ties. Diplomacy is especially important. It is not possible to truly understand someone’s culture, ideas, or intents without knowing their mother tongue. Given the importance of the Russian speaking world in today’s political climate, we can see why Russian is classified as a critical need language, and why the US government has such a high demand for Russian speakers.
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