You’re working hard at learning Russian.
But sometimes you just want to take it easy and watch a movie, maybe get caught up in a romantic comedy or ride along with the thrills of an action flick.
Good news! You can enjoy your movie and learn Russian at the same time by watching Russian dubbed American movies. It’s a fun and easy way to expose yourself to native Russian speakers’ intonation and vocabulary—and it doesn’t even feel like work!
Just pop some popcorn, dim the lights and kick back on the sofa to enjoy one of your favorite movies…dubbed into Russian.
Why Watch Movies Dubbed into Russian?
Plenty of high-quality cinema comes from Russia, and you definitely should check out these films.
But when you’re still learning Russian, it helps to make the context of the language as simple as possible. That’s where watching a dubbed American movie comes in.
If you’ve already seen the film in English, you understand the context of a scene—or for some movies, even the dialogue, word for word. You can focus on really listening to and comprehending the Russian language instead of trying to figure out what’s going on in the plot.
Watching a familiar film also helps you learn new vocabulary. You can hear how a Russian speaker phrases thoughts or makes plays on words.
Plus, you’ll hear how a native speaker uses intonation that might differ from that of an English speaker. The natural rhythm of movie dialog is easier to follow—and more useful for you in the long run—than the stilted exercises you read aloud from textbooks.
How to Get the Most out of a Dubbed Movie
After you select a movie, here are some tips for using it the most effectively:
- If the video supports an English audio track as well, watch a scene or two in English before you switch to the Russian dubbed track. Though it might feel repetitive, getting really familiar with the dialogue will help you understand the Russian version more quickly.
- If the video doesn’t contain the original audio track, try to find the original English version of the movie. Then you can watch a scene or two from the English version before switching to the Russian one.
- Initially, limit your viewing to just a couple of scenes at a sitting so you don’t get overwhelmed. Even better: Watch the same scenes several times to acclimate yourself to the actors’ voices and the speed at which the dialogue flows.
- Try writing a dictation of what you’re hearing in Russian, and make notes of words to look up later in the dictionary. This written tool will help you follow along on repeated viewings.
- Pause the video to repeat lines of dialogue aloud, being careful to imitate the actors’ accent and intonation.
- If available, turn on the Russian subtitles and read along out loud.
Tips for Picking a Good Dubbed Movie
When you’re going through your options for which Russian dubbed movie to watch, keep these points in mind:
- Look for films with lots of dialogue. Sweeping landscape shots are beautiful, but they’re not going to help you learn new vocabulary. You need scenes where people are talking.
- Think about the genre. Pay attention to the time period of the story because it will affect the vocabulary the characters use. You might notice that even American classic movies have English dialogue that’s a bit old-fashioned. Same goes for cartoons and films oriented toward children. This new vocabulary, though useful, may not be what you want to focus on learning unless you plan to speak with Russian-speaking kids.
- Most important—watch something you find interesting. If you can barely follow along in English because you don’t find the plot captivating or if it’s too violent, you’re not going to enjoy watching it in Russian, either.
3 Great Places to Find Russian Dubbed American Movies
A quick note about streaming Russian-language movies—always ensure your computer’s antivirus software is up to date before visiting websites that originate in Russia.
Although viruses and other malware can come from anywhere in the world, several well-known infections have been traced to Russian hackers.
Never download files from sites that you’re not 100 percent sure about, and scan everything with your antivirus software of choice.
Though the majority of sites can be trusted, adhere to the well-known Russian proverb Ronald Reagan learned from his negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev: «дoверяй, но проверяй» (Trust, but verify).
This site offers a wide range of genres, from the newest blockbusters to drama and from comedy to documentaries. To watch a movie, click Cмотреть (watch), scroll down to an image of the DVD wrapper for the movie and click the white arrow. For the smoothest streaming and easy-to-control navigation, click the YouTube icon on the lower-right side of the video window to open the movie in YouTube.
Note that on this site, music videos and casino advertisements that feature scantily clad women play frequently, so if you’re not up for viewing that type of content, be warned. Also, not all of the movies are available to stream, but many are, and more are added regularly. The site also features Russian-made films, which you can also use to help you learn the language.
Some of the Russian dubbed films available recently include Tom Hanks’s thriller «Инферно» (Inferno); the big-screen adventures of America’s favorite family from Springfield in «Симпсоны в кино» (The Simpsons Movie); a dramedy featuring Jack Nicholson, «О Шмидте» (About Schmidt); and the journey of the Pevensie children into the world of Narnia, «Хроники Нарнии: Лев, колдунья и волшебный шкаф» (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
On this site, you can watch movie trailers for current and upcoming releases, from the minion-filled «Гадкий Я 3» (Despicable Me 3) to Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s space drama «Пассажиры» (Passengers) to the CGI wonder of «Планета обезьян: Война» (War for the Planet of the Apes).
Search on YouTube for the original English-language clips of these teasers, then watch them back-to-back with the Russian version to check your comprehension. Check the site frequently for new releases.
Buying DVDs over the Internet
Several websites sell DVDs of English-language movies with Russian dubbing. However, keep in mind that DVDs from other countries will likely not play in an American DVD player because of incompatible coding.
It’s possible to purchase a region-free DVD player. But to ensure a good-quality dub job and to avoid accidentally purchasing a pirated version of a movie, stick with searching on reputable websites like Amazon for Russian dubbed flicks. When searching, be sure to look at the “Product Details” on the bottom of the Amazon page to make sure the movie is dubbed in Russian.
A recent search on Amazon revealed movies that suit any taste, from a documentary about sharks to a childhood favorite, “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” You can also watch Tom Hanks solve a religious riddle in “The Da Vinci Code” and live for a while in an airport in “The Terminal.”
A benefit to purchasing a Russian dubbed DVD is that you can watch it over and over without waiting for a streaming video to download.
Brick and Mortar Sources
In cities that have large Russian-speaking populations, like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, local libraries may have some Russian dubbed DVDs or videotapes that you can borrow.
Bookstores that carry Russian products might also carry dubbed American movies. Berezka in the Boston area and Moscow on the Hudson in New York are good places to try. Plus, a visit to one of these магазины (stores) is the perfect excuse to practice speaking with a native Russian speaker.
Press Play Already!
Including dubbed movies in your Russian-learning arsenal is a fun, relaxing way to immerse yourself in the language. Though films won’t completely replace grammar lessons, they give you an outlet to hear and practice how the lessons from textbooks are used in real-world speech.
And One More Thing…
If you’re looking for more fun, chill ways to learn Russian, you’ve got to check out FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks, 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.