Have you ever tried to run wearing only one shoe?
What about driving with a flat tire?
If so, you know what it’s like to try to deal with something that’s imbalanced or uneven.
The same thing can happen to your Russian skills if you’re not careful.
And if you’re just starting out, it’s especially important to keep your skill set balanced.
There are tons of resources to teach you the alphabet, but how will you learn Russian cursive?
There are plenty of ways to get a little listening practice, but what about speaking practice?
Luckily, there’s quite the variety of Russian resources out there to help you acquire a balanced basic skill set, and you may find them where you least expect it: YouTube.
While YouTube has a reputation for being great for listening practice, it’s not as well known for rounding out other skills, like speaking, reading and writing.
But if you know your way around YouTube (or if you just check out our list below!) you can find plenty of videos to give you the well-rounded Russian practice you need and get balanced study right out of the gate.
So below are eight YouTube videos to target and build up your basic Russian!
Why Target Different Russian Skills with Videos?
YouTube videos can be like one-on-one tutoring. Since the videos on Russian learning channels often feature one well-informed speaker giving instruction, watching them is a lot like having your own private Russian tutor (but cheaper).
Plus, YouTube videos allow you to mix and match to improve your weakest skills. YouTube channels cover all sorts of topics, so you can choose videos to target whatever you need to work on as well as your level. For example, as a beginning student, you can benefit from the learning videos below, and as you advance, you might further hone your listening skills and vocabulary by watching authentic Russian vloggers.
Finally, videos are a uniquely engaging medium, especially if you use FluentU along with instructional videos like those on our list. FluentU takes real-world Russian videos from YouTube—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
Tip: The videos below do cover all your basic Russian skills, but they’ll be most effective if you supplement them with vocabulary learning through authentic videos on FluentU.
Russian YouTube for Beginners: A Video Learning Guide
If you’re just starting out, getting accustomed to reading Russian words can be tricky. Cyrillic isn’t for the faint of heart.
However, “How to Read Russian” from RussianLearnsYou can help ease you into reading. This video begins by teaching you the alphabet. It goes on to discuss letters in more depth and provide plenty of examples of words that use different letters, giving you the opportunity to connect the written words with their pronunciations. This makes reading in Russian a lot less intimidating!
“Russian Reading Practice for Beginners: Репка” (“Russian Reading Practice for Beginners: Turnip”) from College Russian is the perfect jumping-off point for reading stories once you’ve picked up some basic vocabulary.
This video features the text and illustrations of a children’s story as the speaker reads the story aloud slowly and clearly, all while pointing to each word so you can connect the letters to their sounds. You can think of this like your teacher reading books to you in elementary school.
There’s no English translation, so you might not understand all the words at first, but this is a great way to test your early vocab knowledge, and the illustrations can help you fill in vocabulary gaps.
When you need some Russian listening practice and 30 minutes just isn’t enough, “31 Minutes of Russian Listening Practice for Beginners” from RussianPod101 can hook you up.
If you’re at a mid-range beginning stage through an intermediate level, there should be material in this video that will benefit you.
In this video, you’ll be asked a question. Then, you’ll hear a dialogue exclusively in Russian before being asked the question again. This gives you an opportunity to focus exclusively on listening. Next, you’ll hear the dialogue again, but this time, it will be captioned in both Russian and English, allowing you to understand anything you may have missed.
“31 Minutes of Russian Listening Practice for Beginners” is a helpful video for fine-tuning your listening skills to prepare for real-life conversations. If you enjoy this video, you can get plenty more from RussianPod101 by subscribing on their website, along with extras like PDF lesson notes, vocab learning tools and flashcards.
This video from Real Russian Club is a listening activity that revolves around a discussion of the book “Treasure Island.” Not only is this a great way to practice your listening skills, it’s also a fun way to learn vocabulary sets related to books and pirates (both of which are obviously essential).
The speaker speaks very slowly and clearly, so it should be easy for anyone with some basic Russian skills to pick out at least a few words.
Plus, at the beginning of the video, there are some key vocabulary words presented to help you out along the way.
If you’re struggling or just want a little extra help, you can also turn on subtitles, which are available in English and Russian.
“Learn Russian – Daily Conversation Practice” from Eko Languages is designed to help you practice saying useful conversational phrases.
A phrase will appear on your screen in English and Russian, along with Romanization of the Russian to help you with the pronunciation. You’ll hear each phrase first in English. Then, you’ll hear it three times in Russian, with plenty of time in between to repeat the phrase aloud.
The video is nearly two hours long, so you’ll have the opportunity to practice a nice array of phrases, covering topics like shopping, getting to know you, feelings and so much more.
“Practice Speaking Russian” from Real Russian Club offers a well-balanced combination of speaking and listening practice.
An image is shown in the video, and all of the listening and speaking revolves around this image. First, you’ll hear a question in Russian. Then, there will be a moment for you to respond. There’s no one correct answer, so if you’re unsure of what to say, you can just go with whatever you want. After that, the speaker will give you one potential answer, spoken slowly and clearly.
If you want a little extra help through the video, subtitles are available in Russian and English.
Whether you need a refresher of the Russian alphabet or are already familiar with the print alphabet but need more work with cursive, “Russian Handwriting” from RussianLessons.net can help you pick up some valuable skills.
This video goes through each letter of the alphabet, one at a time. As the speaker names each letter, the letter also appears in printed text and in cursive. The cursive version even shows a pencil writing the letter so that you can learn how to form the letter for yourself. To get practice writing letters, all you need to do is have a pen and paper handy to mimic the movement the pencil shows.
Do you know the Russian alphabet by heart by now? What about Russian cursive?
To be fair, even if you think you know Russian cursive, there’s a strong chance you might benefit from a little extra practice. After all, connecting those complex but beautiful letters into actual words can be a real beast!
“How to Write Russian Words and Phrases” from Maria Zdorovetskaya can help you learn Russian cursive. The video begins with printed text. Then, the speaker rewrites some of it in cursive while pointing out similarities and differences. She also suggests a method for you to practice Russian cursive.
Instructions are given in Russian (perfect if you want to work in a little listening practice). However, if you need some help, subtitles are available in English and Russian.
So the next time you’re looking to round out your Russian skills, look no further than YouTube!
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