Yes, the first things when learning russian are alphabet and sound representation. Although russian word may be pronounced differently then written, the difference is quiet small comparing to english or french. Even if you will pronounce all letters exactly as written it may sound sometimes strange, but still be correct and undestandable. There are few common cases where sounds are different and few exclusions:
что (what) - exactly "chto", usually "shto"
and it is a kind of art to represent russian word with latin letters keeping english grammar rules and reproduce original pronouncation
Dos Vee Daan-Yah - sound equivalent
Do svidani(j)a - transliteration equivalent
До свидания! - original
Good bye! - meaming translation
Hasta la vista! - exact translation to spanish.