There are quite a few hoops to jump through when learning Russian.
You have to learn a whole new writing system, totally new grammar concepts (how can “I love you” mean the same as “I you love”!?) and words that can be difficult to pronounce or even translate.
That last one’s often a sticking point with learners. If you’re a native English speaker (or any other non-Slavic language), you might have some trouble nailing those distinctly Russian sounds like the hard “h,” that notorious “r” and even the vowel sounds.
This is especially so if you’re a solo learner without many native Russian friends or teachers around to influence your pronunciation and accent.
Luckily, the internet is full of fantastic resources to improve your Russian skills, and specifically to finally get speaking in Russian down pat.
We’ve gathered seven of the best options for students to add to their speaking-comprehension and pronunciation learning routine.
From Cyrillic alphabet guides to bite-sized videos of native authentic Russian speakers, these resources are guaranteed to help you improve your Russian speaking skills today—whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner.
Improve Your Russian Speaking Skills with 7 Stupendous Resources
We made sure to include a variety of resource types in order to really help you improve your Russian speaking skills. Below, you’ll find everything from guides to videos to Russian-based programs, starting with an introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet.
Without an in-depth and easy-to-understand guide to Cyrillic, it can be difficult to figure out how to read Russian letters. That’s because much of this alphabet looks similar to the modern Latin alphabet, which can be super confusing for newbies.
These resources will help you figure out how to read, pronounce and use Russian letters and words in a way that’ll improve your Russian skills overall and hone your pronunciation prowess!
Russian Cyrillic Alphabet with Handwriting and Audio (Guide)
Many Russian speakers and seasoned learners will tell you that getting a grip on Cyrillic is an extremely important aspect of mastering the Russian language as a non-native. Russian for Everone’s guide to learning the Russian alphabet is an absolute gem for this purpose.
In this guide, the 33 letters of the Russian alphabet are introduced and explored.
The guide includes both the capital and lower-case letter, an audio clip of the letter’s pronunciation, a handwritten example of the letter, its name, its similar English sound, a sample word with an audio clip and a handwritten version of the sample word with an audio clip. The sample words even include a graphic of the vocabulary word to make it even easier to understand.
This resource is fantastic for beginners who are just starting to learn about Cyrillic and the Russian language. Because of its use of graphics, it’s also a great resource to use when teaching Russian to children.
“Learn Russian Alphabet in 10 Minutes!” (Video)
This video is pretty self-explanatory from the title. And it isn’t a lofty claim, either: This awesome little video from Russian in Context can really present you with everything you need to know about the Russian alphabet and how to pronounce Russian letters in approximately 10 minutes.
Each mini-lesson in this video is broken up into five Cyrillic letters. Then, every letter is presented with different words and multiple audio pronunciations.
It’s worth noting that simply watching this video from beginning to end won’t result in incredible Cyrillic knowledge. You’ll have to pause and go back and forth through this video as you study it. Still, we bet with some dedication, you’ll memorize the Russian alphabet in less than a few hours with this video!
Quizlet Russian Flashcards (Program)
Quizlet is a handy tool for lots of things, not just learning Russian or a language. It’s essentially a (mostly) free quiz-flashcard system that can be customized and used by anyone.
Quizlet implements an elegant and user-friendly design that makes it fun and easy to use in your studies. Not all the decks available are free, and some of the decks sold on the site are designed by professional Russian teachers or schools.
There are many decks available for free as well, though, that focus on vocabulary, numbers, verbs, grammar, Cyrillic and much more. You can also easily make your own flashcards with Quizlet.
We especially recommend pinhoklanguages’ Russian Vocabulary flashcards for improving your speaking skills, especially if you’re a beginner. It includes 18 study sets as well as a study guide, text-to-speech capabilities and a comprehensive set of 1,300 of the most common Russian vocabulary words. It’s only $12.99, too. What a steal!
FluentU Russian (Program and App)
If you’ve learned how to read Cyrillic and pronounce a good number of words, but you’re not sure how to actually use these words in a full sentence in a way that’s natural, FluentU can bridge that gap.
That means you get to hear speech modeled by real native Russian speakers through content made by and for Russians.
Follow along with interactive subtitles that provide the spelling, meaning, pronunciation and usage of each word used in the video. Add new words to your vocabulary list to be reviewed as flashcards later, or use the adaptive quizzes to test your understanding following each video.
FluentU has content for every level and is especially great for seeing all those words and letters you’ve been learning in practice in real, authentic situations.
You can use FluentU in your browser or download the iOS or Android apps.
Anki Flashcards (Program and App)
Anki is a favorite among learners who love using flashcards. And realistically, that’s a lot of people. Flashcards are still around as a learning tool for a reason: They really work!
The resource is essentially a simple online and app-based program that’s open-source and incredibly customizable. If you want to make your own flashcards, you can craft full decks of the Russian words or phrases you want to memorize.
If doing it yourself isn’t quite your thing, you can access hundreds of user-made Russian language decks to download and add to your Anki program. For instance, check out a huge deck of “13,000 Russian sentences sorted from easiest to hardest” or the “1,395 Russian Verbs” deck, which sorts the verbs by frequency and includes audio, conjugation and sample sentences.
Anki is available for Android and iOS devices, as well as in your browser (though you’ll need to add decks to your list via the app before you can access them on the website).
This resource website is perfect for all levels of learners. Forvo is a database of pronunciation audio clips for a number of languages.
Currently, the website boasts 48,900 Russian speakers and has a catalog of over 300,000 Russian words. Audio clips are easy to search for, as all you need to do is punch in a word of your choice in either English or Cyrillic to find it.
From there, you’ll be able to listen to audio that has been added by native Russian speakers, so you’ll be getting the most authentic pronunciation possible. In fact, any words have more than one audio available, so you can get a wider range of pronunciation examples from just one resource.
Forvo also has a “Useful Content” section where you can look up greetings, phrases and other common words and expressions in Russian.
And it’s totally free to use! The next time you run into a new word and can’t figure out how to pronounce it, just type it into Forvo.
How to Improve Russian Speaking Skills and Pronunciation (Shadowing) (Video)
This great video on Russian pronunciation and speaking comes from Russian With Max. It explores how human beings learn languages, how to “shadow” audio in order to improve your speaking skills and how to practice and improve your Russian speaking skills.
This resource is definitely designed for intermediate and advanced learners, as the entire video is in Russian. However, there are Cyrillic and English subtitles available.
In fact, you can try using the shadowing technique on this very video, by following along with the subtitles, since Max enunciates everything very clearly and speaks fairly slowly. This way, you’ll be getting some excellent speaking and reading practice at the same time!
Putting It All Together
Now that you have all of these excellent resources, your Russian speaking skills will definitely improve.
But what can you actually do with your speaking skills?
Assuming you don’t live in an area with native Russian speakers, it may feel like your skills will die off if you don’t use them. So don’t let those skills slip away from lack of use!
You can use the shadowing technique you learned in that last video to turn any authentic Russian media into a learning experience (FluentU is perfect for this since the subtitles are 100% accurate).
You can also sing along to your favorite Russian songs, try reading out loud from a bilingual reader or an easy Russian story or even speak to yourself as you’re going about your daily life (but maybe don’t do this in public).
Finally, the best way to make sure of your speaking skills (and improve them) is to speak Russian with another Russian speaker. Try getting a language exchange partner online through forums or apps. You can also join language clubs at community colleges or Russian cultural centers and meet a buddy there.
These resources for improving your Russian speaking skills are really a goldmine. And most of them are free!
Start speaking and you’ll be on your way to Russian fluency before you know it.
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
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