We would like to announce an important Russian skill you may have overlooked: listening.
You heard right.
The good news is that listening can also be one of the most fun skills to practice.
These Russian listening practice resources can be great for learning grammatical concepts for the first time, building your vocabulary and improving your overall language skills.
Just hear us out and we’ll tell you about some outstanding ways to practice your Russian listening skills.
Why Is Russian Listening Practice Important?
- Listening practice or audio learning of any kind improves listening comprehension. When you’re learning to listen in Russian, it can be hard to hear where a word stops and the next word begins. Because of this, you might not even be able to understand the words you’ve already learned.
The more often you practice listening or opt for learning through audio, though, the more words you’ll pick up. Listening to authentic Russian resources intended for native speakers will help intermediate and advanced students progress towards fluency. However, listening options that are learning-based will gently guide any level of learner towards better listening comprehension without being overwhelming.
- Additionally, listening practice improves your Russian pronunciation by exposing you to native speakers. Everyone has an accent in any language. Surely, you’ve heard people who speak English with a recognizable accent of some kind. If you practice listening to Russian spoken by native speakers, though, your pronunciation will improve. Not only will this make you sound more like a native, it will also make it easier for native speakers to understand what you’re saying when you speak Russian.
- Finally, listening practice teaches you new Russian vocabulary words. Inevitably, there will be some words you don’t know whenever you listen to something in Russian. When listening to authentic resources intended for native speakers, you’ll probably encounter quite a few new vocabulary words. Learning-based listening practice, on the other hand, usually paces the introduction of unfamiliar words so as not to overwhelm learners.
Regardless of your level or choice of listening content, practicing Russian listening will teach you not only how to pronounce words, but also how to use them in context.
Now Hear This! 8 Great Resources for Russian Listening Practice
YouTube offers both authentic and learning-based videos. Authentic videos focus on real Russian—the sort of language that native speakers use with each other. Russian learning channels on YouTube focus more on speaking in a manner that Russian students can understand, and learning channels focus on covering topics that Russian students will benefit from.
For instance, Россия 24 (Russia 24) is a state-owned Russian TV station that offers a YouTube channel featuring authentic news clips.
You might imagine that the above-mentioned authentic videos are best, or only suitable, for advanced learners. But that’s no longer the case. FluentU’s Russian program offers the best of both worlds, using authentic videos in a learning-based context.
FluentU uses real-world videos like news, movie trailers, music videos and more. But you’re not tossed in without support! Each video is captioned, and every word is annotated. If you don’t know what a word means, you can refer to its in-context definition and several example sentences. You can also see other videos across the site that contain that word.
What’s more, FluentU also offers “learn mode,” which converts videos into Russian lessons by creating exercises and flashcards from video clips, pictures and example sentences.
Plus, FluentU is tremendously flexible. You choose what videos you watch, so you choose what you learn. Additionally, FluentU uses the learner’s history, so questions are appropriate for your level and build on what you’ve already learned.
Russian podcasts offer an easy, downloadable listening option.
Like YouTube videos, some are authentic while others are learning-based. Authentic Russian podcasts are intended for Russian listeners and cover all sorts of topics. For advanced learners, this is a terrific way to perfect your listening skills. Learning-based podcasts are designed specifically for Russian learners. While they cover things like grammar and vocabulary, they also often cover topics related to Russian culture.
There are good options out there, whether you prefer authentic or learning-based podcasts. TuneIn offers a nice selection of both.
For instance, if you’re an advanced student looking to practice listening with authentic Russian, you might try SBS Russian, which focuses on news.
If you’re an avid TV fan, watching Russian TV might be the ideal listening practice for you. Russian cartoons and other Russian TV shows offer an entertaining and effective way to improve your skills.
Watching Russian TV is particularly effective because if you don’t understand all the words, you can still usually figure out what’s going on by paying attention to what you see on the screen. Plus, TV episodes are fairly brief, so they aren’t too daunting.
Perhaps best of all, you can often watch Russian TV online, so it’s convenient.
If you really want to dive into watching Russian TV, DIRECTV is an excellent option. DIRECTV subscribers can add a Russian TV package for $14.99 to $34.99 per month.
Russian movies are useful listening practice for any Russian student willing to commit about two hours to the activity.
Like with TV shows, you can often determine what’s happening based on the context even if you don’t understand all the words. However, beginning students may get overwhelmed by the length of listening practice a movie will provide.
But for movie buffs, there are lots of good options to practice listening with movies.
Amazon offers a number of Russian films for sale—simply search “Russian movie” to see some options. For instance, “Возвращение” (The Return) is in Russian with English subtitles. It’s a drama that follows two brothers whose father reappears after abandoning them.
DIRECTV is another good choice for anyone looking to watch Russian movies. A number of the channels in their Russian package air some movies.
Russian music is a fun option anyone can use to practice listening and to learn Russian.
Russian music is particularly helpful because it’s easy to memorize songs you like if you listen to them often. This will help you improve your pronunciation, but you can also use the songs as models for grammar rules. Additionally, you can play through the song in your head if you need to remember any vocabulary words it contains.
Russian music is a good option for passive listening. In active listening, you’re engaging with what you hear. In passive listening, you’re simply exposing yourself to it. Since music is easy to have on in the background, it’s a good option for passive listening. Over time, this will familiarize you with Russian sounds and improve your pronunciation.
Shazam is a good option for anyone looking to listen to Russian music. It offers a list of the top 100 songs in Russia. Some are in English, but many are in Russian. You can listen to clips of the songs through Shazam, or follow a link to download them from iTunes.
Interacting with a native Russian speaker is an ideal choice for Russian listening practice. This will help you practice understanding real spoken Russian in a conversational setting.
If you don’t live somewhere with a large Russian population and are not traveling to Russia any time soon, though, finding a native Russian speaker to talk to can be challenging. However, there are a number of websites that will help with this.
MyLanguageExchange.com will help you find native Russian speakers to chat with online.
Russian audiobooks provide good listening practice and can also familiarize you with important literature.
Russian audiobooks are convenient for listening practice because you can listen to them anywhere. Plus, the interesting plots will keep you listening, and the more you listen, the better your skills will get.
Additionally, since audiobooks are usually intended for native speakers, there are options for all ages, which means there’s something appropriate for any level of Russian student.
Audible, the king of audiobook providers, offers a lot of options ranging from Russian learning books to kids books to Russian literature to international books that have been translated into Russian. You might enjoy anything from “Большая Книга Анекдотов” (Big Book of Jokes) to “Everyday Russian for Beginners” to the Bible depending on your interests and learning level.
Loyal Books also offers a number of Russian audiobooks, and many of these options are free. Loyal Books focuses primarily on classic literature; Russian students can enjoy classic audiobooks like Pushkin’s “Дубровский” (Dubrovsky), a story of ill-fated romance.
So perk up your ears and prepare for Russian listening practice with these eight outstanding strategies!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.