learn-basic-russian

Batter Up! Hit All the Bases and Learn Basic Russian with These 9 Resources

Are you a winner?

No, not a lottery winner or an auction winner.

We are talking about a different kind of winner: a person who makes a goal and accomplishes it.

Becoming a winner takes careful planning, lots of practice and the ability to follow through.

To use a baseball metaphor, a winner is someone who runs the bases and scores a home run.

The same can be said for learning a language: Before you become fluent and score your own language “home run,” you need to cover the bases!

Just like in baseball, learning the basics of Russian requires passing the following four bases: reading, listening, speaking and writing.

We will help you cover each base with carefully picked, tried-and-true resources so you can become fluent in Russian in no time!
 


 

Cover All the Bases and Learn Basic Russian with These 9 Resources

The following nine resources will help you practice each of the four items to learn basic Russian and improve your fluency.

Learn a foreign language with videos

First Base: Reading

Reading is imperative to learning a language. If you plan to travel to Russia, you will not be able to read road signs or the names of restaurants and other attractions without these skills. If you are not planning a trip there yet, learning to read in Russian will open up a new word of Russian literature, introducing you to world-famous writers and poets, or your favorite Russian blogger’s best makeup secrets. Whatever motivates you!

Russian for Beginners

What it is:

This is a useful resource that helps you read and learn to pronounce Russian letters and sounds. The website uses a 10-step approach to teach you the alphabet, proper spelling and grammar.

The course is designed so that each of the 10 lessons focuses on specific letters. This helps you learn both hard and soft consonants and vowels, as well as rules for vowel reduction, stressed and unstressed syllables and more.

In addition, the course teaches you about numbers, personal pronouns and basic phrases, such as asking for directions.

The course offers 110 free audio files by native Russians with English translations, as well as a Russian-English dictionary.

How to use it:

  • You have to start somewhere, so why not start at the beginning? Take your time to thoroughly learn the Russian alphabet.
  • Drill the letters and their pronunciation into your head by dedicating some time to each individual letter, the way the book does.
  • Write each letter down, then write down a couple of words where it is used. You can copy from the book or use the dictionary it comes with.
  • Say each letter and word out loud, then listen to the accompanying audio.

Russian Reading: 20 Easy Stories for Beginners

What it is:

Once you utilize the source above to learn to read, pronounce and put together Russian letters to make words, you can move on to reading easy short stories.

The goal of this author was to teach beginner Russian students how to read in Russian and to help them learn conversational skills as well.

The book consists of 20 chapters (short stories) that focus on topics such as family, school, work, holidays, weather and other everyday topics of conversation.

The words have accent marks to help with pronunciation, plus questions at the end of every story that encourage you to answer in Russian based on the vocabulary you picked up from the story.

How to use it:

  • Concentrate on one story at a time. Read it until you understand it!
  • Use the stories to compile vocabulary lists or make flashcards of unfamiliar words you find in each story.
  • Make sure you answer the questions at the end of each story. Say your answers out loud to utilize the words you have just learned and practice putting them together in sentences.

Second Base: Listening

When using Russian textbooks or workbooks to learn Russian, you will likely learn to read and write, but you will not actually hear spoken Russian. Listening is essential not only for hearing correct pronunciations but for being able to understand Russian speakers, watch Russian movies or listen to Russian radio.

100 Russian Audio Phrases

What it is:

This online resource provides 100 common Russian phrases. It is incredibly easy to use and convenient to access on a computer or phone (or whatever device you happen to be using).

This list includes words and phrases that will teach you to navigate some of the most important basic scenarios in a typical conversation. These audio phrases teach you to greet people, say thank you, ask basic questions, count and more.

Each phrase is written in Russian and has an English translation and an audio component so you can hear the words said in clearly enunciated native Russian.

How to use it:

  • Try to read each word out loud before you play the recording. Then listen to the audio and see how good your reading and pronunciation was.
  • Cover the right side of the screen (with your hand or a piece of paper). Then play the recordings one by one and try to figure out the meaning of the word based only on its audio. How many words can you get right? Mark down the ones you didn’t know and study them!

Russian Audio Podcasts

What it is:

To call this site a comprehensive resource for perfecting your Russian listening skills would be an understatement, as it has over 220 Russian podcasts!

Although you may think you are not ready for podcasts, do not fret—these are actually short Russian audio lessons that focus on beginner and intermediate topics.

The host reads dialogues at various speeds and explains words and phrases to help you understand better.

The podcasts cover topics such as cooking, going out, shopping, making reservations and so on.

How to use it:

  • Do not listen passively! Take notes while you listen to the podcasts to write down words, rules and tips as you follow along.
  • Use what you learn to practice the other skills, such as saying the words out loud or writing them down.

FluentU

What it is:

Want to practice listening to authentic Russian? Use FluentU! FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Browse videos by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.). You are sure to find something that interests you!

FluentU is not just about watching videos—it is about learning and actively practicing the language you hear in videos. Use the interactive subtitles, flashcards and vocabulary lists to learn Russian phrases and words better than ever! Or dive into “Learn Mode,” which takes your learning history into account and asks questions based on what you already know.

Watching Russian FluentU videos gives you plenty of listening practice, along with the visual context for understanding the words. When it comes to listening practice, nothing beats FluentU!

How to use it:

  • Select videos based on your interests and Russian language level for an optimal learning experience.
  • Practice daily: The short nature of the videos makes it easy to fit listening practice into your schedule.
  • Turn off the subtitles and see how much you can understand on your own.
  • Having trouble understanding a particular word? Add it to your vocabulary list! Then click on it to see it used in videos in other contexts.

Third Base: Speaking

This is typically one of the hardest parts of learning Russian, as it is not an easy language for Americans to pronounce. Consonant clusters and the rolling r can be challenging, but the two sources below can help you master speaking in Russian.

Red Kalinka

What it is:

Wouldn’t it be great to speak to actual Russians or learn from qualified Russian tutors who are masters at teaching their language? You do not need to purchase a ticket to Moscow to make that happen, thanks to the beauty of modern technology!

Skype has made it possible to connect with Russian teachers around the world through your phone or mobile device. You can trust this site as an expert at teaching Russian. Why? Because while other similar websites offer Skype lessons in a multitude of languages, Red Kalinka only has one specialty—Russian!

How to use it:

  • Set up a trial Skype lesson for yourself for just 1 Euro. You can use it to see if the tutor you picked is a match for your needs. If not, you can set up lessons with other tutors.
  • It is helpful to have a goal in mind when using Skype to learn Russian. For instance, you might want to practice having conversations, focus on specific topics or improve your grammar.

Pimsleur

What it is:

Do you want to learn to speak Russian fast? As fast as 30 days or less? Pimsleur has a course that promises to do just that, and get you to intermediate fluency in a flash!

By devoting just 30 minutes per day (and $99.95 for the entire course), you can utilize the Pimsleur method to not just learn Russian but to actually learn to speak in Russian. The unique angle of this course is that it uses the conversational approach to help you learn this foreign language just as you learned your first, native language—by listening and speaking to others!

Designed by Dr. Pimsleur, this course does not require you to repeat and memorize words. Instead, it focuses on using a special method for moving concepts from your short-term memory into your long-term memory.

Plus, instead of managing your own studies, you work with a tutor who stays on top of your progress the entire way!

How to use it:

  • Create a daily schedule to make sure you log in and keep up with your studies daily. Hold yourself accountable for missing study sessions!
  • Work with your individual tutor to set up a plan with specific goals for your Russian studies.
  • Keep detailed notes of what you learned so that you can review the material after the course is over.

Fourth Base: Writing

The final base of learning Russian is being able to write. Writing trains your brain to form letters into words and helps you remember them better. It will help you improve your reading skills and give you access to online communication with other Russian speakers and learners.

Branah Typing Practice

What it is:

Let’s face it, modern technology has largely replaced the meaning of what writing is. While we required a pen and paper to write previously, nowadays, we usually just type.

This means that to write in Russian like a modern day Russian person, you must learn to type. Remember that Russian utilizes the Cyrillic alphabet (which you learned with the help of the sources above), so you will need to undergo a few steps before you are able to type in Russian.

To do so, you can purchase a Russian keyboard, tape Russian letters on the keyboard to learn their place or find an online site that will do the work for you.

Branah offers a virtual Russian keyboard that shows the corresponding place for every Russian letter on your American keyboard.

You can practice typing on the site to help you memorize the order of the Russian letters so that you can eventually learn to type without having to look (touch typing).

How to use it:

  • Prepare Russian text from a blog, website or a book that you want to retype in the system. This will help you familiarize yourself with the placement of Russian letters on a keyboard and the spelling of Russian words. It will also make you more aware of sentence construction, through the act of writing them down.
  • As you advance, you can test your progress by typing without looking at the keyboard. Then try typing from an audio source and see if you can spell the words correctly.

Lingua Lift

What it is:

Although you may not remember the last time you picked up an actual pen to write something down, we cannot forget that Russian, just like English, is written in print and cursive. To truly learn to write in Russian, you need to brush up on both!

This site offers individual Russian letters organized in alphabetical order. The letter is first written in print in both capital and lower case, and then in cursive.

How to use it:

  • Download and print a cursive practice sheet so that you can work on your Russian penmanship.
  • Spend some time writing each individual letter a few times until you perfect it.
  • Once you have your letters down pat, you can start combining them into words, and then phrases, in cursive.

 

You have now completed a home run and can consider yourself a winner! You have covered the four bases required to learn basic Russian and can utilize that knowledge to study intermediate and advanced levels to become a truly bilingual person!


Renata Ilitsky is a professional content writer with over 10 years of experience. She specializes in creating unique and engaging content for any industry. To read some of Renata’s other work, please view her writing portfolio.
 


 

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