20 Free Russian Learning Resources That Won’t Cost You One Thin Ruble!
Learning Russian is pricey.
There are plenty of online resources like learning websites. Luckily, some of the best websites to learn Russian are even free.
So if you’re looking to learn Russian without spending a dime (or kopek), look no further than these 20 fabulously free resources!
- Russian Apps
- Russian Websites
- More Traditional Russian Courses
- Comprehensive Russian Learning Tools
- Russian Audio Tools
- Russian Video Lessons
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 are pretty simple and formatted like a quiz and you’re asked to supply answers. The lessons are brief, so you can easily fit in some studying in 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.
It’s important to supplement Russian lessons with Russian content (like vlogs, news reports, etc—see our last section on this blog post). This will help you understand that what you’re learning corresponds to how authentic Russian actually sounds—and experience the thrill of understanding native-level Russian.
To achieve this, consider a virtual immersion platform like FluentU. This program takes authentic Russian videos like movie trailers, music videos and news clips, and adds interactive subtitles to them. You can tap on any word for an instant definition. Plus, you can also add your words to flashcard decks for later review.
The content is sorted by difficulty and genre, which can help you find something you can understand and want to understand.
There are also review quizzes with multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks and speaking exercises. You can type a word into the search bar to see its definition both in text and a picture, as well as its context in video/written format since you’ll see any videos where the word appears.
Multimedia transcripts, personalized quizzes and keyword lists for each video mean the FluentU program and iOS / Android app can be used at any stage in your studies.
2. Nemo Russian
Nemo Russian’s exercises consist of cards with audio, many words and phrases used in conversation, and no prior knowledge of the language is necessary to start using it!
3. Russian Alphabet Mastery – Learn Cyrillic in 3 Hours
True to its name, this app will teach you the Cyrillic alphabet in less than a day, making Russian’s straightforward writing system even easier to master. Fire it up on your phone for easy reference whenever you come across any tough spelling.
4. SpeakEasy Russian
This vocabulary mobile app is a personal favorite of mine, with its crisp audio, flashcard feature and “Getting Around” section, which will come in handy if you need some basic travel vocabulary.
SpeakEasy Russian also helps you learn some more practical everyday phrases not covered by other apps, and its paid version is worth the upgrade, offering hundreds of more phrases on topics like the environment and medicine.
If you’re wanting to learn basic Russian for free, get Loecsen on your radar.
Loecsen provides vocabulary on basic topics like conversations, 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.
6. Live Lingua
Want to learn Russian as a Peace Corps member learns it? Live Lingua offers online materials!
Through Live Lingua, you can access 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.
One drawback, though, is that these materials are often a bit dated and can be difficult to use.
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.
8. Learn Russian
Learn Russian offers some great materials (lessons, vocabulary and grammar tables) 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.
9. Russian for Everyone
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 language-boosting games.
10. Russian for Free
Russian for Free is designed to help beginner through advanced Russian learners, without costing a dime.
This platform 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.
More Traditional Russian Courses
11. Headstart2 Russian
Headstart2 is an online module-based course found on the DLI’s website.
As the name implies, Headstart2 is meant to give soldiers and other government personnel a “head start” for those soon deploying or traveling to areas where little English is spoken, in as little time as possible
The program consists of two units with interactive exercises: “Sound and Script” and “Military.”
- “Sound and Script” covers the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, basic phrases and key pieces of culture—like a sing-along version of the song “Kalinka.” This provides you with an informative cultural backdrop for Russian that goes beyond learning the basics.
- “Military” includes stages that introduce you to the language used in action and emergency situations. This group of vocabulary and phrases can be useful to anyone—travelers or learners dealing with Russian authorities, are interested in military history or a journalist or a writer working in areas like eastern Ukraine. Each of these two parts consists of 10 “Modules,” each containing 2-5 “Tasks.” Visual learners will enjoy the lesson’s illustrations and digital animation to grasp Russian.
Altogether, Headstart2 adds up to 15-20 hours of immersion that combines an excellent foundation in basic Russian with an added practical edge.
Register for the self-directed program on DLI’s website and you’ll be on your way to receiving an official Headstart2 certificate of completion for the course.
12. “Golosa: A Basic Course in Russian”, 5th Edition
“Golosa” (Voices) is the premier textbook for beginners of Russian and teaches how to actually write cursive characters.
It also covers in detail the nuances of Russian pronunciation, and the website includes free online student activities, grammar supplements and vocabulary cards, among other resources. “Golosa” is great to use along with other great online courses for learning Russian.
Comprehensive Russian Learning Tools
13. GLOSS (Global Language Online Support System)
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.
GLOSS hosts activities and language-learning lessons for dozens of languages including French, German, Kurmanji and, you guessed it, Russian. There are over 640 free Russian lessons focused on listening, reading and writing completely for free—and don’t require signing up!
Simply click on “Russian” in the search box to access the full directory of Russian lessons. 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, like a short matching activity or fill-in-the-blank activity for introducing vocabulary later used during the lesson’s reading or listening exercise.
After this 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 write in Russian short-answer questions. 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.
14. Master Russian
Master Russian offers hundreds of free materials.
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 declinations, 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, with a daily growing list of offerings!
Russian Audio Tools
15. News in Slow Russian
News in Slow Russian is an amazing resource for all learners who already know the Cyrillic alphabet.
When you enroll, you get lifetime access to over 500 news articles, interactive transcripts with stress accents on every word and over 50 hours of audio.
The biggest advantage of using this site is that the articles are divided into three levels:
- Level 1: This level can be used by upper beginners. The audios are really slow so you’re able to understand everything, and the articles have been redacted to include mainly simple tenses. This level will help you build a vocabulary of around 1,500 words.
- Level 2: The second level is ideal for intermediate and upper-intermediate learners. The articles for this level include the perfect tenses and will help students broaden their vocabulary while they listen to real Russian at the speed they choose (slow or normal).
- Level 3: The level for advanced students includes challenging grammar constructions, collocations, phrases and idioms. Learners will have access to more difficult pieces of news, and they’ll get to decide when they’re ready to change the speed of the audio.
With over 1,750 video and audio lessons, Russian learning tools, flashcards, lesson notes and a comment section, learners who decide to buy a subscription to RussianPod101 will have access to hundreds of hours to learn the language of Dostoevsky.
If you’re not sure whether RussianPod101 is for you or not, you can buy a trial for one dollar and you’ll get 50 lessons, 30 days of Premium Access, one downloadable product of your choice and a seven-day Fluency Fast course.
Russian Video Lessons
17. Real Russian Club
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.
18. 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.
19. Russian with Dasha
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.
With all of these resources available, you’ll have no problem learning Russian. Keep practicing and best of luck!