Learning Russian is pricey.
Textbooks can cost an arm and a leg.
Paying the fees for the best Russian courses, even the ones online, can also really add up.
And, of course, you’ll need to budget some money for sampling the finest Russian delicacies (strictly for educational purposes, obviously).
With so many expenses, how can you ever get all the resources you need?
The answer is simple: incorporate free resources into your arsenal of Russian learning tools.
That’s right: you can actually learn Russian for free with the right resources.
So if you’re looking to learn Russian without spending a dime (or kopek), look no further than these 13 fabulously free resources!
How to Learn Russian for Free
Before we get into the list, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of these free resources.
First, take advantage of free trials. Many websites that usually charge for their services offer free trials. Not only can you get some learning in during your free trial, you can also figure out which websites are worth budgeting for.
For instance, FluentU offers a free trial. During the free trial, you can use all of FluentU’s innovative learning resources.
Each video is captioned and the captions are annotated with the words’ definitions, example sentences and an associated image for the words. You can even click on a word to see how it’s used in other videos.
Plus, FluentU offers a “learn mode” that turns videos, example sentences and images into engaging activities and flashcards. That’s a lot of bang for one free trial!
Additionally, there’s plenty of material out there, so you should experiment to discover what resources you like best. When you first notice that something is free, it can be tempting to just stick to that resource and never try anything else. However, even if you want to use exclusively free resources, there are plenty out there, so don’t just settle on the first resource you find. Experimenting with resources will help ensure that you find what’s best for you, which will encourage you to keep learning.
Finally, don’t hesitate to use more than one resource. Pairing several together can give you a well-rounded education. Some resources you might use for listening practice. Other resources you might use to learn more vocabulary. Either way, using several of them together can be an easy way to get a more comprehensive education than one resource alone could provide.
13 Fabulously Free Resources to Learn Russian Without Spending a Dime
Duolingo is a popular free resource and for good reason: It’s fun and easy to use.
Duolingo’s Russian program is broken down into “skills.” In each “skill” section, there are some notes to help prepare you for the lessons contained in that section.
The lessons themselves are pretty simple. They’re formatted like a quiz and you’re asked to supply answers. The lessons are brief, so you can easily fit in some studying in just five minutes a day. However, there’s enough material so that you can study for much longer at a stretch if you prefer.
Duolingo’s program is terrific for beginning through intermediate students. It starts with the alphabet but goes on to cover more advanced skills like the case system and more abstract vocabulary.
If you’re wanting to learn basic Russian for free, Loecsen should be on your radar.
Loecsen provides vocabulary on basic topics like conversation, family, colors and more. For each vocabulary word or phrase, you’ll be given the Russian word/phrase, a transliteration, the English meaning and Russian audio. Plus, each vocabulary word/phrase is accompanied by a fun illustration that shows the meaning.
Want to learn Russian like a Peace Corps member learns it? Live Lingua offers these materials online!
Through Live Lingua, you can access six different sets of Russian learning materials, including some regional variations, like Kyrgyz and Kazakh Russian. The materials cover beginning- through intermediate-level Russian.
Each set of materials is available online or as a download. Some focus exclusively on text while others focus more heavily on audio. There’s also a workbook you can use for practice.
Whenever your Russian skills need a little boost, RussianLessons.Net has your back.
It offers a wide variety of free materials for Russian learners. If you’re just starting out, you might try its leveled lessons.
But RussianLessons.Net offers so much more than leveled lessons. It also offers grammar guides, vocabulary lists and access to additional tools, and quizzes that are ideal for beginning through advanced level students.
Lessons and vocabulary and grammar tables—oh my!
Learn Russian offers some great materials for beginning and intermediate Russian students.
There are over 100 lessons to help students learn all the basics. Plus, regular tests help assess learning.
But that’s not all! If you ever need to infuse your language skills with some more vocabulary, Learn Russian offers dozens of vocabulary lists. Struggling with a grammar rule? Learn Russian’s grammar tables are quick, easy reference tools you can use to clear up any confusion.
While it isn’t as flashy as some sites, Russian for Everyone gets the job done neatly and efficiently.
Russian for Everyone offers some introductory lessons, several phrasebooks and dozens of grammar lessons appropriate for beginning through intermediate students. Additionally, quizzes and tests are staggered throughout to make it easy to see how much you’ve learned.
Plus, if you need a break at the end of a difficult learning session, Russian for Everyone offers a number of games that use the Russian language.
Russian for Free is designed to help beginning through advanced Russian learners without costing you a dime.
Russian for Free offers three levels of courses. The first focuses on reading, the second focuses on speaking and the third focuses on the case system. Lessons contain written material, audio, vocabulary lists and dialogues to help you on your road to speaking Russian.
In addition to free courses, Russian for Free offers supplemental learning materials, including grammar exercises, vocabulary games, cartoons, music and phrasebooks.
8. Cafe Russian
Cafe Russian is a YouTube channel that offers short, easy videos to help beginning and intermediate Russian students.
For instance, you might want to watch the brief video on Russian cases on repeat. The series on 10 awkward mistakes in Russian is also particularly useful to students and will teach you valuable lessons, like why you probably shouldn’t use Russian swear words.
While the Russian with Dasha YouTube channel only offers a few videos, they provide a helpful foundation for beginning Russian students. Plus, the channel is expanding little by little!
Many of the videos discuss the alphabet in depth. This is particularly helpful for tricky letters, like hard and soft consonants. More recent videos also feature vlog-style content, more advanced content and plenty of useful language and culture lessons to keep your studies going.
By the end of the videos, you’ll be able to introduce yourself, order food in Russian, speak confidently in several real-world scenarios and have a strong foundation for future learning. Plus, you’ll pick up plenty of cultural tidbits.
LearnRussianTV is an older YouTube channel that offers dozens of videos on themes that beginning and intermediate students will find useful.
Vocabulary videos like “Learn Russian: 100 Common Nouns” are a helpful way to expand your vocabulary quickly. However, there are also plenty of grammar lessons, like “Learn Russian Easily: Past Present and Future Tenses” to give you the skills you need to use your vocabulary in grammatically-correct sentences.
Real Russian Club is a YouTube channel with a wide array of offerings for beginning through advanced Russian students.
For beginning students, there are lessons on basic vocabulary, such as when to use вы and ты (formal and informal “you”).
The channel’s “Slow Russian” series is terrific for intermediate students since it features authentic Russian spoken at a slow rate. Additionally, the series covers culturally-relevant themes, like this video on a Russian luxury village.
More advanced students will benefit from the video on how to think in Russian.
GLOSS (the Global Language Online Support System) is a huge database maintained by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Centre run by the United States Department of Defense. As you can imagine, this database contains government-grade language learning tools. In other words, these lessons are fantastic!
GLOSS hosts activities and language-learning lessons for dozens of languages including French, German, Kurmanji and, you guessed it, Russian. In fact, there are over 640 free Russian lessons focused on listening, reading and writing completely for free. Plus, you can access all these lessons without even having to sign up!
To explore the Russian lessons, simply click on “Russian” in the search box. That will open the full directory of Russian lessons. If you have a more particular activity in mind, you can sort the lessons by proficiency level (1-4), modality (listening or reading), competence (the type of exercises) and topic. Topics include lessons on culture, environment, science and more.
Each lesson starts with a pre-learning activity. This can be a short matching activity or fill-in-the-blanks activity for introducing vocabulary that will be used during the lesson’s main reading or listening exercise.
After this main reading or listening clip, there are exercises for testing comprehension and practicing vocabulary. These include further matching or fill-in-the-blanks activities as well as short-answer questions that give you the chance to write in Russian. GLOSS also includes immediate and in-depth corrections to give you meaningful feedback.
Best of all, many lessons on GLOSS also have downloadable documents or audio clips.
13. Master Russian
Master Russian is an all-around Russian learning website that offers hundreds of materials for free.
Its main resources include grammar tutorials and vocabulary lists as well as in-depth explanations of grammatical structures. I mean, who doesn’t need a good, to-the-point explanation of Russian grammar points?
Some of the resources are sorted into “basic” and “advanced” levels. I would recommend the “basic” resources for those who have no Russian experience or a beginner (A1 to A2) level of Russian, and the “advanced” resources for those who are intermediate level (B1) or higher. If you click on these two subheadings in the lefthand sidebar, you can follow the lessons logically according to your level.
For resources that aren’t sorted into a particular level, you can find grammar tutorials that cover topics such as noun cases and declination, verb conjugations and pronouns. There are also in-depth tutorials on pronunciation and vocabulary topics such as eating out, seasons and holidays.
Master Russian also has a list of the top 1,000 Russian words with audio recordings so you can give your vocabulary a powerful boost. There’s also a picture dictionary as well as a podcast for Russian learners. In fact, the list of offerings from Master Russian seems to grow daily!
So if you want to learn Russian while saving your rubles, look no further than these 13 fabulously free resources!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.