Babies don’t need to practice.
I know, I know.
It doesn’t seem fair.
Little baby Russian speakers can learn the language without all the textbooks, vocabulary drills or speaking practice…
Wait—let me stop you there.
They’re actually practicing all the time. They’re babbling and cooing and trying to reproduce the sounds they hear around them, until one day real words start to come out.
To start speaking Russian, whether you’re a kid or a foreign language learner, you’ve got to put in those practice hours.
So how can you accomplish that as an adult language learner?
We’ll show you three different methods that you can mix and match for effective Russian speaking practice. We’ve included lots of online practice resources to help you start one or more of these techniques right away and get the most out of them.
Speak Up! The 3 Most Effective Russian Speaking Practice Tips
If you’re already in a Russian-speaking country, you have tons of options for practicing Russian. Just go outside and speak to the next person you see.
If you don’t have the opportunity to speak to actual Russians face-to-face, you can utilize technology to get the next best thing. You can teach yourself Russian from home, or anywhere really, by utilizing the resources below.
1. Build a Foundation Solo
Many people are intimidated by speaking in Russian because they don’t think they’re ready. It can be difficult to start a conversation if you don’t feel you’ll have the words to hold it up.
Of course, one of the best ways to get over that fear and make real progress is to just start speaking as soon as possible! But for practice that’ll help you feel more prepared going into your next conversation, try these great options below.
This video lets you practice speaking Russian by yourself. Presented by Real Russian Club, it uses a question-and-answer format. This helps viewers follow the context of the material and answer questions to practice listening and speaking skills through the art of storytelling.
The video asks basic questions and provides answers about topics such as describing the looks and age of a person, locations, the weather, colors and directions. Don’t be afraid to speak out loud and compare your answers to the video’s!
By utilizing the same words over and over, it makes it easier for students to learn how to phrase questions and provide answers when conversing with others.
Want to learn to speak Russian the way native speakers actually use it? FluentU is a fun, fast way to do just that. FluentU provides real-world Russian videos like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into learning experiences.
Each video comes with interactive captions—click any word for an instant definition, visual learning aid and native pronunciation. You’ll also see other videos that have the word, so you learn how to use it in any context. You’ll be actively building your vocabulary while absorbing real Russian.
Plus, since you’re watching the stuff that native speakers actually watch themselves, you’re diving into Russian culture and building up your stockpile of Russian conversation topics!
The videos also come with tailor-made flashcards and exercises to make sure you remember what you’ve learned when you’re done watching.
FluentU has a huge variety of videos, 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.
You can go from beginner to advanced with FluentU by your side. The videos are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find something that works for you. FluentU also remembers what you’ve watched and suggests further videos based on that info, so you get a truly personalized experience.
2. Set Up an Online Language Exchange
Language exchanges are a tried-and-true method for foreign language speaking practice. And thanks to awesome online resources like the ones below, they’re now easier than ever to set up.
Here’s how they work. You’ll be partnered up with a native Russian speaker who’s learning English (or your native language, if not English). You’ll spend part of the time speaking one language and part speaking the other. This way, everyone gets the speaking practice they need—and you might make a great new friend in the process!
WeSpeke is an app that helps you connect with native Russian speakers. You’ll get to practice speaking as well as reading and writing, since there are options for instant messaging or audio/video chat.
You can find partners based on common interests and discussion topics, so you won’t have to worry about awkward conversation lulls!
Utilize the WeSpeak virtual notebook to write down notes from your exchange sessions or anywhere else on the web. Another cool feature is WeSpeke’s easy timezone navigation, which helps you and your partner quickly figure out a compatible schedule no matter where you’re both located.
Tandem is a free language exchange app. Unlike with other similar products, you don’t need to make any commitments to speak to another person. You simply create an account and log on, browse profiles of language learners who are online and message or call someone interesting!
There’s even the option for users to leave references for one another after chatting, which are an added tool as you’re browsing for who to reach out to.
If it’s a good fit and you both feel you can contribute to each other’s learning, you can make a plan to speak again later. If not, you can keep looking!
To squeeze some extra writing practice in, you can text message language partners through the app. There’s even a “correction” feature that makes it easy to point out each other’s errors in a judgment-free way.
In addition to the language exchange feature, Tandem connects users to “Tandem Teachers,” who can help with a variety of ways to learn Russian. We’ll talk more about tutoring for Russian speaking practice below, but this is a cool way to get the best of both worlds. If you need help with a particular pronunciation or just want an expert’s opinion on your speaking abilities, Tandem Teachers is a great option. The first lesson is free!
The Fluency Project is one of several programs run by the nonprofit Break Diving. Its purpose is to make free Russian speaking practice easy and accessible for all learners.
It’s a little different from the resources above as it’s not specifically designed for one-on-one language exchanges. It’s a more informal community for Russian learners, where you can meet other students or Russian speakers to set up conversations with. The whole idea is to introduce you to a supportive language community and connect you with other Russian speakers.
Just click the “Start Chatting” button and you’ll get an invite to Break Diving’s Slack—an online chat space. Once you’re signed up, just navigate to Channels and then select “fp-russian.” Now you’re in a Russian-only online chat! This is a perfect resource that forces you to speak in Russian because there’s absolutely no English allowed!
While this space is primarily for written communication, you’ll meet plenty of other Russian speakers and language lovers that you can set up video chats with for speaking practice.
Plus, the site encourages you to keep up with your studies by sending you weekly reminders asking you to share your experience throughout the last week. You’ll even get additional resources, such as a language learning blog, a vocabulary builder, quizzes and more!
3. Get Focused Practice from Virtual Tutors
Looking for some focused, productive speaking practice? Online Russian tutors will get you on the right track. The trick is weeding out the inexperienced fakes and finding a good deal on studying with a quality teacher. The sites below are trusted resources for connecting with a virtual language tutor.
Verbling is an online site that connects users with thousands of native-speaking teachers around the world. You can get access to a multitude of Russian tutors that’ve been hand-picked by Verbling.
The site’s belief is that students learn best through communication. Keeping in mind that everyone has a unique learning style, Verbling allows users to try an unlimited number of Russian tutors before they settle on the right one.
As with most similar sites, every tutor’s profile has their name, image and profile, along with reviews. What’s cool about Verbling is that it features the tutor’s schedules, helping you avoid the tedious back-and-forth emails to try to set up a time while accounting for the time differences.
Preply is another site that connects students with virtual tutors on Skype. They have highly-reviewed Russian tutors that can help you with your specific learning objective. Each teacher’s profile states whether they specialize in teaching children, adults or college students.
You can do a trial lesson with a teacher, and can even private-message each potential candidate before making a decision about who’ll be the best tutor for your needs.
If you’re short on time, Preply will actually help you with this process. You can email your preferences and Preply will find a teacher for you!
When learning Russian, don’t focus all of your energy on just learning the letters and grammar rules. Remember that a language is meant to be spoken, and you must practice it to master it!
Renata Ilitsky is a professional content writer with over 10 years of experience. She specializes in creating unique and engaging content for any industry. To read some of Renata’s other work, please view her writing portfolio.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.