The Top 8 Russian MOOC Resources for Language Learners

Available online and open to all, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are one of the best ways to learn everything—from quantum physics to ancient history.

For starters, they’re often high-quality, owing to the fact that many are offered by prestigious educational institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They’re also a great way to meet fellow learners from around the world, since they’re usually supplemented by discussion forums.

Lucky for you, there are tons of MOOCs for Russian language learners, as well as Russian history/culture enthusiasts in general.

Before we get into the right Russian MOOC for you, it’s important to note that most of them aren’t like the traditional, comprehensive foreign language classes you know.

Instead, these courses often tackle smaller concepts like cross-cultural communication with Russians, a set of essential vocabulary or a particular aspect of Russian grammar. In other words, MOOCs should be more of a supplement to the other ways you’re learning Russian—like the sour cream in your borscht or the pickle after your vodka.

Ready to embrace Russian MOOCs for your studies? Read on for everything you need to know to get MOOving with a Russian MOOC.


1. Открытое образование (Open Education)


Price: Free (but certificates may require payment)

Let’s kick off with the Russian equivalent of Udemy/edX/Coursera! provides access to MOOCs from major Russian universities.

As you can see, most of the courses on the site are in Russian. For that reason, this site works best for intermediate to advanced learners. If you’re looking for courses on “Russian as a foreign language,” you can type in Русский как Иностранный or РКИ for short.

In case you have questions about enrollment or how to use the site, go to their English language FAQ section.

2. PushkinOnline


Price: Free

An online project of the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, this site provides lessons tailored to each of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) skill levels—A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

You can also sort the courses according to subject: Russian as a foreign language, Russian language, Literature, Regional geography, Culture, Science and technology, Physical education and sports and History. If you’re just starting out in your Russian studies, go here.

3. Universarium 


Price: 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.

Again, if you’re looking for classes that specifically teach the Russian language, type Русский как Иностранный or РКИ into the search bar.

4. Stepik


Price: Depends on the course

Like Universarium, Stepik is a repository of Russian language courses for advanced learners.

Many of the courses are in Computer Science, so if you happen to be studying Russian and are in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field, this site allows you to kill two birds with one stone. You can also sort courses according to whether they offer certificates and/or whether they’re free. 

5. Coursera


Price: Depends on the course (with financial aid options available)

Coursera is a treasure trove of MOOCs offered by universities all over the world. Many of the classes operate on a set schedule, meaning you need to 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 toward more advanced learners. The available courses at the moment can take anywhere from one week to six months to complete.

6. Udemy


Price: Depends on the course (discounts are available now and then)

Udemy has a wide range of Russian language offerings for different proficiency levels. You’ll find everything from classes on essential beginner Russian to Russian literature for dummies.

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.

7. Class Central


Price: Depends on the course

Class Central is similar to Coursera, in that it has courses pulled from universities as well as other providers like Udemy. You can browse by subject area, provider, university and institution (Google, Microsoft, etc.), or type what you’re looking for into the search bar. For example, if you type in “Russian,” you’ll get this.

Once you have a bunch of results, you can filter them further according to level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), according to the type of course (with/without certificate, university course, non-university course), length of time, subject and language.

8. MIT OpenCourseWare


Price: Free

MIT OpenCourseWare is arguably one of the pioneer MOOC platforms, and it’s still going strong.

Although it doesn’t have any “Russian as a foreign language” MOOCs, it does have a handful of courses for those interested in Russian history, culture and politics. For example, there’s “The Making of Russia in the Worlds of Byzantium, Mongolia, and Europe”, “Imperial and Revolutionary Russia: Culture and Politics, 1700-1917” and “Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, 1917 to the Present.”

You’ve probably already heard that language and culture cannot be studied independently of each other. So, if there are any aspects of the Russian language or culture that don’t make sense to you, perhaps these courses can shed light on some of the more inscrutable aspects of Russia!

How to Get the Most Out of Your MOOC

  • 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 intention 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.
  • Do the work. We all know there’s no easy road to mastering Russian, so prepare yourself to do the work the MOOC will require. 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.
  • Reach out to other learners. 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—and how you might be able to help them.
  • Test your level. Many of the Russian language MOOCs use the CEFR—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.

For example, you can take some Russian language quizzes on the platform FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Russian and want to immerse yourself with authentic materials from Russia, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

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FluentU has a very broad range of contemporary videos. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of Russian-language content available on FluentU:


FluentU makes these native Russian videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.


Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.


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