11 Authentic Russian News Resources All Learners Should Know
Watching and reading the news is a great way to learn Russian. It gives you a Russian language cultural perspective while learning about current events in the Russian speaking world at the same time.
Not sure where to look? Check out these 11 resources, ranging from Russian national news websites to podcasts for language learners.
- 11 Russian News Resources for Learners
- Russian News Podcasts
- Why Learn Russian with the News?
- Tips for Learning Russian with the News
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11 Russian News Resources for Learners
Real Russian news is easy to access these days, but you have to know where to look. Try these 9 news outlets for some fresh insight from the Russian perspective.
TASS, the Russian-government-owned news channel, is the fourth-largest news agency in the world. Though you can toggle between the Russian and English versions of the site, the stories don’t appear in the exactly the same places on the screen in each version.
However, you can search for the English version of a Russian story to help you learn more difficult terms or those you can’t figure out through context.
Back in Soviet times, Известия represented the views of the government. Today, this privately owned agency is Russia’s most-read daily paper. Its free online website offers sections familiar to any newspaper reader: politics, economics, sports, culture.
You can start with a straight news story about a current event, read some of the opinion pieces listed on the right side of the screen, or learn about what historical events occurred on the current date.
3. BBC News Russian Service
The BBC Russian Service is another news outlet with a long history. First broadcast over the radio waves in 1946, the BBC moved the Russian service to an online-only format in 2011.
Like Известия, this website also offers news in all the familiar topics, but this time, from a British/Western perspective. The BBC also offers a weekend news roundup show, «Пятый этаж». This broadcast is also available as a downloadable podcast, you can listen to it at your leisure, as many times as you’d like.
4. Вокруг света
Вокруг света is sort of the Russian version of a National Geographic-type monthly publication. In print since 1861, this magazine publishes stories that are more human interest or analysis than breaking news. For example, you can learn about the mandarin orange season in November or the opening of the new Gotthard Road Tunnel in Switzerland.
Check out the photos of the day where you can not only enjoy the beautiful photography but also practice translating the short captions for each shot.
First published in 1899, Oгонёк, which means “little flame,” is one of the oldest weekly magazines in Russia. The publication reached its peak of popularity in the 1980s during the time of perestroika and glastnost, thanks to its pro-Western, pro-capitalism lean. Today, it still offers strong reporting on world issues.
Правда (Truth) has a bit of a complicated history. It used to be a very popular newspaper run by the Communist Party. However, a split in 1996 has led to there being two different newspapers under the same name: one run by the Communist Party and one that is privately owned and Russia’s first online newspaper. This Правда is the privately owned Правда. In spite of being privately owned, it is still accused of being a propaganda tool, so be sure to be a discerning reader.
Правда offers print stories, though some of the stories also have accompanying videos.
In addition to offering Russian language articles, there are printed articles in English. This is a great way for any beginning Russian learners to get a Russian take on events without the language barrier.
Slideshows like «Хорошего вам настроения!» (“Have a good mood!”) are particularly good for beginning learners. Each photo has a brief caption, so you won’t be overwhelmed by a lot of text. Plus, who can resist cute animal pics?
7. Вечерняя Москва
Вечерняя Москва (Evening Moscow) is a daily newspaper that has been published out of Moscow for over 90 years. It is not government-run, but it does have the government’s support, and this could influence the material.
Most news stories offer both printed text and an accompanying video.
Вечерняя Москва offers a lot of news stories focused on local culture and events. For instance, if you like cheese and fun, read or watch «Фестиваль „Сырные дни“ могут проводить в Москве ежегодно» (“Festival ‘Cheese Days’ are held annually in Moscow”) to learn more about the unique festival as well as some helpful vocabulary related to cheese and festivals.
8. Московская правда
Московская правда (Moscow Truth) also goes by МосПравда. It is a popular daily newspaper out of Moscow that has been published for nearly 100 years.
The focus is almost entirely local news, and all articles are print articles. If you like the look of a traditional newspaper, you can download PDFs of the newspaper.
A fun way to encourage yourself to practice your reading is the Московская правда Гороскоп (Horoscope) section. You will learn everyday vocabulary along with astrological terms (which everyone knows are essential to a well-rounded vocabulary).
9. Russia Today
Russia Today (also known as RT) is a television network launched in 2005 and based in Moscow. It is funded by the Russian government, so the coverage is shaped by this. The network has previously been accused of being a propaganda tool and spreading inaccurate information, so it is always important to consider the information they provide carefully in context.
With that in mind, Russia Today is still a useful tool for anyone looking to learn Russian. They offer both videos and printed text on topics including world news, Russian news, the economy and sports.
Russia Today also offers an English channel to provide you with a Russian take on news stories. It is interesting and educational to read and watch RT’s take on recent world events.
Russian News Podcasts
The beauty of listening to downloaded podcasts is that you can listen to them any time, anywhere you want to.
10. The News in Slow Russian
The News in Slow Russian offers both free content and more thorough teaching for paid subscribers. Transcripts are shown for each story, so you can follow along with the announcer as he or she speaks.
Some words and phrases in the transcript are in bold, indicating that a translation will pop up if you hover your cursor over the words. After you feel comfortable listening to the slow-speed broadcast, try challenging yourself by listening again with the speaker speaking at a regular tempo.
You can pick from several story categories, such as animals, science or people—whatever suits your interest.
11. Slow Russian by Daria Molchanova
Daria Molchanova is a Russian historian who also teaches Russian to nonnative speakers. Her service is similar to The News in Slow Russian, but she offers mostly human interest and cultural stories, such as whether Halloween is celebrated in Russia.
Daria first reads her story in Russian very slowly. Then she goes back to translate each sentence into English, pointing out any unusual grammar constructions that she encounters in the Russian text.
A Russian and English transcript is shown below the audio player, so listeners can follow along while Daria reads aloud. In the Russian text, a couple of words or phrases are boldface and are defined lower on the page. Daria is certified as a teacher of Russian as a foreign language, and she uses her skills to ensure her podcasts are efficient and clear.
Why Learn Russian with the News?
Memorizing grammar rules doesn’t make the cut for the list of best language learning strategies. Rather, real learning is best achieved by communicating in your new language while learning about other topics.
News outlets offer an effective way to stay on top of current events while learning a foreign tongue at the same time. And Russian language learners are in luck: A number of online Russian-language news sources are out there from which to choose.
Apart from the generally immersive nature of learning with the news, these resources offer many more benefits:
- Learn another perspective.
In addition to providing opportunities for language learning, reading newspapers or listening to news shows from other countries also enables you to appreciate another culture’s take on world events.
- Get constantly updated material.
New stories are published every day, if not more frequently, so you can always find a topic to suit your interests. Plus, by reading Russian stories about familiar subjects, you can pick up the gist of the reports easily.
- Learn real-world vocabulary.
Pens, erasers, blackboards and wastebaskets are important in life. However, when you’re trying to converse with someone in Russian in the real world, these words are likely not the ones you’re reaching for. You want key words to share facts, express opinions and counter arguments.
So, go ahead, grab some news. Read about recent elections, upcoming movie releases or even unusual foods that different cultures relish during the holidays to expand and enrich your Russian conversational repertoire. Your vocabulary will grow to encompass all these topics in no time.
Tips for Learning Russian with the News
Chances are, especially if you’re a beginning Russian language learner, you’re not going to be able to translate every story you read word for word. That goes double for video and audio news clips. But that’s okay.
If you can pick out just a couple of words here and there, you’ll be surprised at how much of the story you really can follow.
- Start simple.
Start with simple stories about topics you’re familiar with, whether a short piece about a sports team you follow, the follow-up from a presidential speech you read in English or a story about your favorite celebrity.
You can also read about a topic in English first, then transfer your knowledge to the Russian version. Take a stab at figuring out words you don’t know. Of course, you can always keep a dictionary close by to help out.
- Read at your own rhythm.
You can read a written story in an online paper, watch an anchorperson deliver the news in a video, or listen to an announcer in a podcast. Either way, you’re going to learn.
Reading has a lot of perks. It exposes you to more words, and another nice plus is that you can go at your own pace. If you didn’t quite understand something, you can take a few minutes to reread it. Break out your dictionary if need be, or mark up any paper copies of the news you have on hand with your thoughts, questions and translations.
- Listen actively.
Listening to a foreign language isn’t the passive action some may think it is. Focusing on someone speaking Russian forces you to keep up and not get bogged down if you don’t know or misunderstand a word. The key to learning a foreign language is to increase your exposure to hearing it.
You can do this by using authentic video focused programs like FluentU. This tool has authentic videos in Russian, including news clips, for you to learn with. Accurate Russian and English subtitles make it easier to listen actively and actually understand what you’re hearing, while flashcards and personalized quizzes will help you remember new words.
- Pick news that interests you.
There are many types of news, so you have a lot of options. For instance, you can select from world news, entertainment news, business news, sports news, science and technology news, celebrity news, etc. Choosing a topic that interests you will help motivate you to keep reading or watching the news.
- Use TV news, newspapers or both.
TV news will help you with listening practice. Newspapers will help you with reading practice. If you use TV news and newspapers together, you will get ample practice with both listening and reading. You don’t need to have cable service in Russia to watch shows though—you can easily find good news programs while watching Russian TV online.
- Make vocabulary lists based on news stories.
While watching or reading, jot down the specific vocabulary that sticks out as related to topical events, or that you hear repeated frequently on the news. Seek out vocabulary lists loaded with political and legal Russian vocabulary words, since that is what you will likely encounter. All of this will help you learn unfamiliar words while watching and reading. Since words are often repeated between news stories, this will help you understand other stories in the future. You can also seek out different stories from different Russian news resources on the same topic, so you can see those words used in different ways.
- Keep in mind that every news source has its bias.
Like it or not, 100% of news stories are slanted, and there’s no way around it. Inherently, journalists must decide what information to include and what not to include, and this is often based on the policies and/or agenda of the news agency. Because of this, it is important to use multiple news sources to get a more accurate idea of what’s going on in the world.
Paying attention to the news can seem futile at times. You can’t stop the wars. You can’t give celebrity couples the marriage counseling they so badly need.
But with a little effort, you can use the news effectively to learn Russian.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)