"The less he uses an interpreter the better," Kanchelskis told Russian newspaper Sport Expressi. "At first, I spent a lot of time with a translator, so life was easier. But I soon realised it slowed down the process of settling in at United."
Kanchelskis was a crowd favourite at United before leaving for Everton in controversial circumstances before the 1995-96 season.
"Quality wing players are always appreciated in England,' he said. 'In addition, the main thing in this country is to fight for the whole 90 minutes.
"Even if you don't succeed, the fans take to you if they see you giving everything for the whole match. They realise you're playing for the shirt and not just taking their money.
"You don't have to be friends with him to realise he is quality, hard-working and modest. He's no poseur. And this is sure to be appreciated in his new club. They will like his inexhaustible desire to play football and give 100 per cent."
Zhirkov's transfer puts him above Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin as the most expensive Russian footballer and Kanchelskis said: "I think CSKA are selling him at the right time and are receiving exactly the right fee.
"The standard of Russian football and the English Premier League does not bear comparison and our players have to be allowed to grow.
"And the fact this has been carried out in contrast to other moves, without scandals, says a lot about the standard of the club and their management.
"Zhirkov can light up the Premier League as vividly as Arshavin,' said Kanchelskis. 'But he must understand that it will be difficult. Eventually everything will be OK. He has enough talent."