June 19th, 2013

Likelihood of average USSR citizen speaking English?

Searched: "would a russian in the ussr speak english," "how likely was it that a russian in the 1980's would have spoken english," "english speakers in the ussr" and went through relevant tags in this community.

I have a character who is a teenager in the outskirts of Moscow in 1986. She only spends about two or three chapters inside the USSR, and since she's surrounded the rest of the time by people who don't speak Russian, I need to know how realistic it would be that she would have even a moderate-to-poor level of English proficiency. She's lower middle class, Russian born and bred, with no English-speaking family members. Should I resign myself to writing a bunch of "me love you long time" scenes, or can I skip the initial miming-words-to-each-other stage without breaking suspension of disbelief?

ED: Thank you so much to all the commenters, you've helped immensely :)