According to the ratable data around 9.5 million people live in Belarus. As concerns the national composition: 83% are Belarusians, 8% Russians, 3% Poles, 1% Ukrainians, 5% other nationalities.
In spite of vast national composition there are two national languages in the country: Belarusian and Russian. According to the general census of 2009 60 % of Belarusians consider the Belarusian language as the native one, but at home the majority of the country population speaks Russian (70%). Russian language is spoken in the Belarusian capital, in region centers and large Belarusian cities. In small towns people speak a mixture of Russian and Belarusian languages which is called Trasyanka. English language is freely spoken by 450 000 of Belarusians and German - by 138 000 people.
Nevertheless in Belarus foreign languages are spoken in not all touristic areas.
There is a special system of taxi call in Minsk – everybody know special numbers by which one can call a taxi. It is reasonable that every taxi operator speaks Russian or Belarusian. Any taxi cab that passes by will never stop even if you shake hand actively. Because it hurries to another order. If you don’t speak Russian the best variant is to take a hotel visit card and to show it to a taxi driver every time you go back to the hotel. Then a driver will bring you directly to the place you need.
All foreign tourists that come to Belarus visit cafes and restaurants which are situated in the city center. They are known by taxi drivers very well, that is why we advice you to remember only their names. Many central restaurants have bilingual menus (Russian/English). And in qualified cafes and restaurants personnel have to speak foreign language obligatory.
If we talk about Minsk hotels you should know that every receptionist always speaks English. In many hotels they even speak Turkish, Chinese and Arabic. That is why you can use their help without hesitation.
Many entertainment establishments like discos, casinos, clubs have prepared carefully to meet foreign tourists and hired well trained personnel. That is why every foreigner will be understood and helped.
Since Belarus is a former Soviet republic, and not so much time has passed since its collapse. So do not expect from them mind blowing knowledge of foreign languages. Try to explain with gestures. We have already written what could bought in Belarus. See here.
There are not so many billboards in Minsk, and all the advertisement and signs are in Belarusian or in Russian. So get ready to the fact that you still have to learn reading in Cyrillic alphabet.
In conclusion I would like to say: learn Russian because the more languages you know, the more you are a person!