The Top 8 Russian MOOC Resources for Language Learners

Available online and open to all, MOOCs are one of the fastest growing ways to learn everything from quantum physics to computer code to ancient history.

And yes, you guessed it, there are tons of MOOCs for Russian language learners.

Ready to embrace this latest trend? Read on for everything you need to know to get MOOving with a MOOC.


Why Should You Consider a Russian Language MOOC?

Before we dive into everything MOOCs can offer, let’s get our acronyms straight.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are classes offered over the internet (hence “online” and “course”) and are generally available to anyone, anywhere, with no enrollment cap (hence “massive” and “open”).

Some MOOC platforms allow students to interact with one another through discussion forums or other online tools, making MOOCs a great way to meet and interact with Russian language learners all over the world.

Many of the world’s top universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford, have made some of their regular courses available as MOOCs. Other MOOC providers include nonprofits, institutes and educational organizations. Many of the courses are free or low-cost, meaning that MOOCs are a great way to get high-quality educational content without crushing tuition fees.

MOOCs can be self-paced or run on a set schedule. While the scheduled courses will help your learning stay on track, learners with limited time can’t always keep up. For those folks, the self-paced option is a great feature.

One thing to keep in mind, though: most Russian language MOOCs aren’t the traditional, comprehensive foreign language classes you get from online language programs.

Instead, these courses often tackle a smaller concept, like cross-cultural communication with Russians, a set of essential vocabulary or a particular aspect of Russian grammar. Meaning that MOOCs are more of a supplement to the other ways you’re learning Russian, like the sour cream in your borsht or the pickle after your vodka.

So make sure you’re coupling your MOOCs with other types of resources. These could include Russian news articles, music, movies or books.

You could also use a virtual immersion software. One example is FluentU, a program that teaches Russian using short videos about a wide variety of topics. These clips include expert-edited, interactive captioning to boost vocab and overall understanding of native-level content.

If you’re struggling to understand MOOC-level material, shorter videos can be a good place to start.

How to Get the Most out of Your MOOC

You’ve decided to add a Russian language MOOC to your learning mix… but now what? How can you make the most of your MOOC?

  • Set your intention. Think about why you chose the course and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

Is it an advanced class and you’re hoping to take your language skills to the next level? Did you choose a Russian literature course with the goal of reading some of the great Russian novelists in the original language? Whatever your reason, define it from the outset so you can stay motivated and track your progress.

Make time in your weekly schedule to watch the videos and complete the assignments. If you’re following a self-paced option, you might enlist a friend to hold you accountable, or set little rewards for yourself as you complete course milestones.

  • Interact! One of the great features of many MOOCs is the interactive component, so take advantage of that. Check out the discussion forums and see what you can learn from the other students in the class, as well as how you might be able to help them.
  • Test your level. Many of the Russian language MOOCs use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages—a system for assessing language proficiency—to indicate their class level. So test yourself before looking for a course to make sure you’re choosing one that’s appropriate for you.

Get Your Russian MOOving with a Language Learning MOOC

You’re ready to tackle a Russian MOOC, so the question now is: where can you find them? Luckily, there are lots of varying options for your consideration.

Below, we’ll show you eight great options for finding Russian language courses across a variety of levels and topics.

Then, we’ll point you to three specific courses to get you started in your MOOC education.

MOOCs Offered by Russian Universities

A number of Russian universities have made some of their classes available as MOOCs. Searching for MOOCs on these sites serves as additional language practice, since much of the webpage navigation is in Russian.

Pro tip: when looking for a Russian language class on these sites, search for Русский как Иностранный (Russian as a foreign language) or РКИ for short.

  • Открытое образование (Open Education): Open Education provides access to MOOCs from major Russian universities. You’re most likely to find courses that follow a set schedule, but all of the classes are free.
  • PushkinOnline: An online project of the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, this site provides lessons tailored to each of the CEFR skill levels.
  • MOOC TSU: Tomsk State University has its own MOOC site, although the courses themselves are hosted on partner sites.
  • Universarium: This site is trying to make as many Russian university courses as possible available for free. The courses are available only on a schedule (i.e. not self-paced) but the selection provides a good variety of interesting classes for advanced Russian speakers.

MOOC Platforms

These sites connect you with MOOCs from universities and other providers. They can be a great place to start your search, since you see results from multiple providers.

  • Coursera: Coursera is a clearinghouse of over 2,500 MOOCs offered by universities all over the world. The MOOCs run between roughly $29 and $99, with financial aid options available. Many of the classes operate on a set schedule, meaning you enroll by a certain date and meet deadlines to stay on track.

This can be a good thing for learners who need some discipline, but not as helpful for folks on a tight schedule. The good news is that Coursera lets you switch to a later session if you fall behind and any work you’ve completed will transfer with you.

The Russian language offerings on Coursera are generally geared towards more advanced learners, but there are some interesting classes on cross-cultural communication that would be useful for anyone using Russian in a work setting.

  • Class Central: Class Central is also a MOOC clearinghouse, but it pulls in other providers like Udemy (more on that below) in addition to the university offerings. You can browse by subject area or search for something specific and then narrow the results with easy-to-use filters.

Class Central also publishes the MOOC report, which is essentially a blog on developments in the wide, wide world of MOOCs. If you’re hooked on MOOCs as an educational resource, this is a great place to keep up with what’s happening in that space.

  • Udemy: Udemy has a wide range of Russian language offerings at many proficiency levels. You’ll find everything from classes on essential beginner Russian to Russian sentence structure to Russian literature for dummies. Most of the classes cost around $30 to $40, though discounts are often available.

The site provides an overview of each class, telling you the number of lectures, total time and level. The classes are self-paced and the fee includes lifetime access to the course materials, making Udemy classes a great option for learners on a busy schedule.

  • edX: Like Coursera, edX partners with universities all over the world to provide their classes as MOOCs. A great feature of the edX offerings is that they’re free and many of them are self-paced. However, the options do tend to be more limited.

This platform may be ideal for advanced learners who want to take classes that are in Russian, as opposed to your typical Russian-as-a-foreign-language class. Use the search bar and the lefthand sidebar to find Russian classes that interest you.

Russian Courses to Get You Started

Here are a few specific Russian language courses to get you MOOving on your MOOC journey:

  • Beginning Russian at PushkinOnline: Created by professors from Moscow State University and Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, this course has everything you need to get started with Russian: basic grammar, vocabulary from everyday life and an interactive workshop to practice what you’ve learned.

The course exposes participants to vocabulary that’s not typically found in Russian language textbooks and covers unique subject areas such as the different Siberian nationalities.


Give these a try, and then dive even deeper into the great, wide world of Russian language MOOCs. Good luck!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe