They say that learning Russian is a challenging adventure that is not for the weak of heart.
Actually, it isn’t all that bad.
The right resources go a long way to making the experience fun and easy.
So, you might find that the biggest challenge is choosing which learning path to follow on your road to fluency.
When you decide to learn the Russian language, all the options out there can seem daunting. Which path will you take to learn most expediently? What approach is best for you? Why can’t forks in the road just be a less threatening spoon instead? (That would be much more appropriate for borscht, anyway.)
However, you boil all those options down and you will find that there are two main components to learning a language: audiovisual and textual.
Audio is a great way to learn by hearing how natives use their language in speech. Even listening to music can help you learn the sounds and rhythms of Russian. As for text, Russian novels, articles, blogs and learning books will most definitely help you improve all your language skills.
But how can you combine the convenience of audio with the learning power of books?
Audiobooks are the answer, and they will let you take several paths at once!
Why Listen to Russian Audiobooks?
Russian audiobooks are convenient. Unlike paper copies of books, you can enjoy an audiobook anywhere. Whether you are driving or working out, you can also drive forward your learning and work out your Russian skills.
If that is not enough to get you hooked, Russian audiobooks are entertaining. Everyone enjoys a good plot! And with so many options, you are sure to find a Russian audiobook you will enjoy. Enjoying listening to the audiobook will make learning Russian that much sweeter.
Best of all, Russian audiobooks provide you with multiple learning options. You can use just the audio, or you can find a corresponding Russian text to read along in Russian. If you aren’t as confident in your Russian skills, you can also read the English-language version ahead of time so that you already understand the plot of the book and can focus entirely on the language. This versatility makes Russian audiobooks a great tool for any learner. Just choose the route you are most comfortable with!
The 5 Best Russian Audiobook Resources and 10 Highly Recommended Titles
LibriVox is a website dedicated to providing free audiobooks for works in the public domain. Since they have volunteers all over the world, many of these audiobooks are available in several languages, including Russian.
To access Russian-language audiobooks, go to their catalog and click the “Language” tab. Then, click “Russian” to choose from over 60 Russian-language audiobooks. You can listen online or download the audiobooks to a mobile device.
This classic set of children’s stories is a good option for beginning and intermediate Russian students. Each story is relatively brief which makes them more approachable than longer works. Plus, given the number of animal stories, it will certainly help reinforce animal names for any beginning Russian student.
“Childhood” by Leo Tolstoy
“Childhood” is Tolstoy’s first published novel, though it is largely autobiographical. It is the story of the young son of a landowner as he grows up in 19th-century Russia. Given Tolstoy’s important role in Russian literature, this is an important work for any Russian language and/or literature student. However, due to the complexity of the language, the audiobook is best for advanced students.
Audible is a subscription-based audiobook service from Amazon. For about $15 a month, it provides a wide selection of audiobooks, including Russian-language audiobooks. With their free app, you can listen from any mobile device.
To find their Russian-language content, use the “Browse Audible” drop down menu to access the “Foreign Language” category. Scroll down to “Russian Language Best Sellers” and click “See All” to view over 2000 Russian audiobook options.
“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
This Russian classic is the story of the devil and his pals arriving in Soviet-era Moscow. “The Master and Margarita” is a witty satire often hailed as one of the finest novels of the 20th century.
This audiobook is aimed squarely at beginning Russian learners. If you want to learn Russian in a more traditional style but don’t want to use a textbook, this audiobook will help you get the basics down through listening and repetition.
Yes, your favorite place to watch adorable cat videos can also provide you with terrific Russian-language audiobooks.
Just search “аудиокнига” (audiobook) or “audio kniga” for a wide selection of Russian-language audiobooks accessible via YouTube’s website.
“War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is one of the best known works of literature in world history. It follows the French invasion of Russian in the early 1800s and how it impacts several families. It is largely philosophical and uses advanced language, so it is best for advanced students. However, given the importance of the work, it is an ideal novel for language learners and literature aficionados to familiarize themselves with.
“Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling
Yes, Potterheads rejoice. You have an opportunity to practice your Russian and an excuse to catch up with your favorite boy wizard all rolled into one great audiobook. While it is not a Russian novel, it certainly is popular and a valuable tool for language practice. While it is a children’s book, which would usually make it great for beginning learners, the presence of specialized terminology makes this book most appropriate for advanced learners and Potter-obsessed intermediate learners.
Audiobooks.com is a subscription service that allots you one audiobook per month for a $14.95 subscription. Just download the app to stream from your mobile device.
Since there is no separate category for Russian language titles, the fastest way to find them is by searching “Russian.” Then, browse through the pages to find books you might be interested in. The easiest way to see at a glance if they are actually in Russian is by looking at the title page. If it is in Russian, the audiobook is too.
“Child Care: The Main Rules” by Svetlana Antonova
This Russian parenting audiobook will introduce you to both new ideas and new vocabulary! You’ll hear words and phrases related to babies, children, families and parenting. Listening to audiobooks in the health and wellness genre can be helpful for beginner or intermediate students, because you won’t have to follow along with a complex story.
“Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Follow Raskolnikov as he decides whether he should commit a crime. The vocabulary and plot of “Crime and Punishment” are quite complex, so this audiobook would best suit advanced learners.
Audiobooks in Russian is an app available through iTunes. While it is free to download, accessing audiobooks requires in-app purchases. There are over 1000 audiobooks available, including books on economics, psychology and humor. Even the popular “50 Shades of Grey” series is available if that’s your thing. The selection is diverse, so there is something for every level of language learner.
“Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki
This popular personal finance audiobook will make you think harder about money. Though it was not originally written in Russian, listening to the Russian translation will definitely benefit you. It will simultaneously improve your Russian and financial literacy. It is best for advanced speakers since there are advanced terms and concepts. However, any advanced speaker who is interested in business or finance will benefit from this audiobook on several levels.
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand
Though originally written in English rather than Russian, the Russian-language audiobook of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel is still a strong choice. By featuring a society in which industry has collapsed, “Atlas Shrugged” explores concepts like capitalism and government regulation. Due to the language and concepts, it is best for advanced Russian students.
So if you don’t know if you want to go down the audio route or the book path, why not take both roads at once and give audiobooks a try?
And One More Thing…
If you enjoy learning Russian with audiobooks, you’ll love learning with FluentU.
FluentU takes all kinds of real-world videos and turns them into language learning experiences, as you can see here:
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 vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.