A picture is worth a thousand words.
The person who coined that phrase clearly never attempted to learn Russian.
Russian is infamous for its difficult pronunciations, dense groupings of consonants and impossibly long words.
You can, of course, learn a lot from looking at the pictures in Russian magazines or books and reading accompanying captions to figure out what the pictures represent.
But just try saying some Russian words for the first time, like всплыть (to come to the surface) or even здравствуй (hello), and you’ll find they prove to be quite a mouthful.
Whether you’re trying to teach yourself Russian from scratch, or are just rushin’ to improve your Russian conversation skills, say до свидания (goodbye) to memorizing lists of words from a stuffy book and… that’s right, здравствуй to audio sources.
In fact, we definitely don’t recommend trying to say hello and goodbye in Russian without hearing them said first!
Benefits of Learning Russian with Audio
Why use audio sources to learn to speak Russian? Other than the obvious reason, which is rocking out while listening to famous Russian songs like “Katyusha” and “All the Things She Said,” there are plenty:
- It’s a better method for auditory learners: People learn in different ways; some of us are visual learners who learn more effectively when they see something, while others need to hear it. If you’re an auditory learner, you’ll understand and retain material better if you hear it the first time you encounter it rather than read it.
- You get to hear pronunciations: It’s worth stressing this again—Russian pronunciation isn’t for the faint of heart. Just as the Russian winters are brutal and the vodka is strong, this language is serious stuff. Listening to words and phrases before attempting to say them yourself can be a great aid in learning to speak like a native.
- There’s such a wide variety of audio sources: Where oh where would one find a Russian audio source? Just about anywhere! Choose from podcasts, audiobooks, music and audio courses.
- You can listen anytime, anywhere: Unless you’re an heir of Russian royalty with nothing to do with your time other than reconnect with your roots, you likely have other priorities that may compete with the time you’ll need to learn the language. The great news about audio sources is that you can listen to them anytime, anywhere.
You can multitask by driving to work or running errands and listening to a podcast, jogging to upbeat Russian music or relaxing in a soothing bath with a Russian audio course. (Not your thing? That’s okay, it isn’t for everyone!)
- Improved retention: Did you love it when your mom used to remind you to brush your teeth before bed every single night? Probably not, but it sure did stick with you for the rest of your life, didn’t it? That’s because hearing something repeatedly stores it in your long term memory and helps you retain that information. So play those audio sources over and over to improve your Russian skills!
12 Audio Resources to Teach You Russian
Looking for the best audio sources for learning Russian? Stop looking and start listening to these hand-picked options.
Podcasts and Audio Courses
Russian 101 from the FSI
This free Russian course was created by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI). It offers a wealth of information for learning Russian, with many audio options.
Listen to the audio courses right on the site or download the entire thing at once. Lessons cover the Russian alphabet, pronunciations of groupings of consonants and vowels, Russian geography, how to introduce yourself and more!
Sign up here for a free lifetime account to access over 1,000 audio lessons to help you learn Russian. These podcasts are led by knowledgeable and energetic hosts who make the experience fun.
Utilize the vocabulary learning tools, detailed PDF lesson notes and spaced repetition flashcards to learn on the go. Connect with other Russian learners through community forums to discuss lessons and ask questions.
To maximize learning potential, combine audio with video!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Plus, the videos are all naturally entertaining since they come from the shows, movies and channels that native Russian-speakers enjoy on the regular. You can watch documentary footage, television show clips, funny commericals and more all while learning the Russian language!
Take a quick look at what FluentU has on offer for yourself:
Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? FluentU makes native Russian videos approachable through interactive captions. Tap or click on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.
Don’t stop there, though! Use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that information to give you a 100% personalized experience. You’ll get extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.
With FluentU’s Russian video library and provided learner functions, you can expand your understanding of Russian culture while honing your Russian skills at the same time.
This is a useful resource to learn Russian, with pronunciations of Russian words and phrases along with Russian spellings, English translations and pronunciation guide. Learn the alphabet, basic greetings, typical sounds in Russian words, stress, consonant and vowel pronunciations, spelling rules and inflection.
Once you’ve brushed up on those basics, continue to learn about Russian nouns and pronouns, verb tenses, numbers, conjunctions and more!
The Russian Rocket Languages course is a flexible, self-paced interactive audio course you can use on your phone or any device. In addition to audio lessons, you get flashcards, pronunciation practice, progress tracking and access to a members’ forum where you can meet and chat with other learners.
If you’re looking for a way to learn Russian through audio that includes a strong element of community and support, Rocket Languages might be worth a shot.
For pronunciation purists who primarily want to learn to speak Russian well and who prefer to do it primarily through audio and independently, Pimsleur is the classic choice. Three levels of Russian are available from Pimsleur. The first level starts with the basics and the last one takes you through a high-intermediate level.
The program focuses on frequently-used vocabulary, which it gives you the opportunity to hear in context, learn, repeat and reproduce in an appropriate scenario. With Pimsleur, you’ll be guided to start speaking immediately with a near-native accent.
This website provides a host of language learning options, along with Russian podcasts, which are categorized by short podcasts (3 to 15 minutes) for beginners and extended podcasts for more advanced learners.
Instead of simply focusing on the language, the podcasts help listeners learn popular and current Russian expressions, slang and culture. For example, this podcast helps foreigners learn the appropriate way to address Russian women—from waitresses to girlfriends.
A Beginner Course of Spoken Russian
The website LingQ.com offers 28 completely free iTunes podcasts for those starting to learn the Russian language. They include MP3 files of recorded dialogue with attached transcripts. The recordings cover common phrases you would hear on Russian streets every day. Each file also contains an additional “mini-story” with questions about the recordings to help you stop and assess what you just heard, while practicing speaking on your own.
You can supplement these recordings with additional content, learning tools and community resources on the LingQ website. Signing up allows you to access lessons and interact with native speakers on the site.
Disney Songs in Russian
Remember watching Disney films when you were little? Ever thought they would help you learn Russian? Believe in the magic of Disney!
Listen to the Russian translation of “Part of Your World,” a song from Disney’s “Little Mermaid,” “Out of Thin Air” from “Aladdin,” etc. These versions include an English translation and the phonetic spelling.
Pa russki literally means “in Russian.” This site includes a collection of Russian songs with lyrics. This is a great way to learn about Russian culture and popular Russian songs, while also brushing up on the language.
The site recommends listening to the songs a few times, then reading the lyrics and trying to sing them yourself!
UCLA Russian Audiobooks
This source offers “talking books,” popular children’s stories and folktales which can be played out loud and read at the same time. Connect the spoken and the written word to learn the material, and then challenge yourself by simply listening to the story and trying to translate it yourself.
LibriVox has a library of audiobooks in Russian on various topics and in various genres. Choose between downloading Russian fables, poetry, short stories, biographies and historical texts. This is a great option for learners of different levels; while beginners can start with the easier fables, advanced Russian learners can challenge themselves with Russian poetry.
There are a multitude of ways to learn Russian, so what would you rather do?
Start learning with an audio course, dance to Russian music or be entertained with an interesting story?
Check out the above Russian audio sources to excel in your quest to learn Russian!
Renata Ilitksy 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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