Ever seen a foreign film or show with subtitles that just seemed… off?
Where the dialogue or narrative just didn’t add up?
To the point where even if you didn’t understand the original language at all, you knew someone had made a mistake?
If you are an avid YouTube watcher, that has undoubtedly happened to you.
The funny thing is that many Russian learners sound just like that—a poor translation—when they try to speak in Russian.
And there is a reason for that: Russian is not an easy language to become fluent in.
With challenges ranging from consonant clusters to gender of noun rules, you really need to put in the effort if you want to sound like you could be a character in an actual, believable Russian-language movie!
The good news is that we can easily direct you to where you should be putting in that effort—specifically, helpful translation exercises.
The resources below cover a variety of exercises that will allow you to choose between answers in multiple choice questions, type full Russian translations of English texts and even interact with a native Russian speaker in having your translations checked.
It is important to practice Russian with translation exercises because they help you learn to express in Russian what you think in English, which is no easy task.
Plus, translation exercises can include a wide variety of material. Translation can be as simple as choosing the correct word, or it can get as complex as translating whole sentences or entire texts. Below, we will provide you with material to do all of this, for as long as you need to.
If you want to sound coherent, come across as intelligent and be taken seriously in Russian anywhere in the world, you must learn how to speak and write in Russian like a native speaker!
So let’s get you started.
6 Translation Exercise Sites for (Un)Believable Russian
There are a lot of options online that offer to help you improve your Russian, and it may be overwhelming deciding where to begin. Don’t fret—the six sources below are among the very best options to help you in your learning journey!
This page on Auburn University’s website provides over 600 different Russian exercises that are perfect for beginner to intermediate students, and a number of them are translation-based. This site is so comprehensive that it will likely take you weeks or months just to get through all of the material.
You can test yourself on a wide variety of topics, such as:
- and more!
Most of the translation exercises (which are clearly marked) follow the same pattern—they provide a word, phrase or number and ask you to translate it. All of the exercises have answer keys so that you can check your answers.
The translation exercises are built into a series of lessons concentrating on listening and reading comprehension. As useful as the straightforward translation exercises are, you will probably also find it useful to do the other exercises and lessons, assuming they match your level.
Remember: The key to mastering Russian is not simply to check your answers and move on, but to continue to do the exercises until you get everything right!
Got a FluentU Plus plan yet? It may interest you to know that the Plus plan includes customized translation exercises that take the form of multiple choice translation and typing translations from memory, both from Russian to English and English to Russian.
And of course, with any FluentU plan, you get access to hundreds of professional translations of Russian-language YouTube videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—which help you gain a better understanding of how to express your English-language thoughts in Russian.
You can watch any video with optional bilingual captions, pause at any time to look up a word or words you don’t understand, take a quiz on key vocab in the video and be reminded whenever you need to refresh your memory with a quiz that has been created just for you. How cool is that?
You can even practice translation by watching videos in Russian with the Russian captions only, then translating them into English and checking them against the FluentU translation. Or, turn down the volume and translate the English captions into Russian, then compare them to the Russian transcript.
What’s more, since you will be working with a huge variety of authentic videos, you can ensure that the language you are learning is relevant and applicable to your everyday life.
This online source offers 25 vocab quizzes that are divided into topics. To keep you motivated, each of the exercises is timed. Each presents a word or phrase to be translated from Russian to English and four choices for you to pick from.
Every time you come back to a certain topic, the exercises change, thereby providing you with a multitude of opportunities to practice different vocabulary.
Don’t know some of the answers? No problem! A helpful video will teach you all of the words included in each exercise.
By completing these exercises, you will learn words associated with:
- Body parts
- and more!
This site turns up the fun with Russian translation games. Hover above the menu header “Language games” to choose between these exercises:
- Crossword Puzzle
- Find Words
If you choose the Hangman option, you will be provided with an English word or phrase, and will need to guess the word in Russian. You only have so many chances before you hang yourself!
The Crossword Puzzle option also features an English word or phrase, and you must write the Russian version into the crossword puzzle.
These two games are great for helping with spelling—even if you know the right Russian term, you may not be sure about all its letters. You have the option to try a few times until you get an answer correct, giving you plenty of opportunities to improve your Russian writing skills!
Find Words provides a list of Russian words with their English translations, which you must find in a word search.
Memory doesn’t have as much of a translation element, but it still tests your vocab skills by having you match a Russian word with a picture.
Part of The Internet TESL Journal’s Activities for ESL Students, this page has various quizzes that are made up by volunteers. Because you can go from English to Russian or Russian to English, it can be just as useful for Russian students as English students.
Each activity comes in two options: Flash A and Flash B.
Flash A exercises contain multiple choice questions, and users can choose between English to Russian or Russian to English translations, in addition to choosing to have the sound on or off.
Flash B exercises contain virtual flashcards (English to Russian or Russian to English). Each flashcard contains a word or phrase and instructs you to think of the word and click to find the correct answer. You can then choose to keep the flashcard in your repertoire or discard it.
The activities range from beginner to advanced, with topics including:
- Personality adjectives
- Body parts
- and so on…
There are times when you need help translating a specific document, such as when you are preparing for a test or writing a business letter. Or, you may need to focus on a certain topic, such as medicine, law or geography. Alternatively, you may be stuck on a certain idiom or modern phrase that you can’t find in a Russian textbook or on a flashcard app, and need a real, live person to help you translate your thoughts into the Russian language.
This is where this website, Lang-8, comes in handy. It connects you to native Russian speakers (actually the site offers help in 90 languages from people in over 190 countries) in order to check your translations in a non-automated or pre-programmed way, not limiting you by pre-formed content.
Lang-8 allows users to create journal entries for free in the language they are studying, in this case Russian. Native Russian speakers will check the entries—crossing out incorrect spelling, uses of grammar and punctuation—and offer correct alternatives.
The resources in this article help you not only to learn Russian vocabulary, but to challenge yourself by translating between English and Russian, and vice versa.
With all of this, you have everything you need at your disposal to teach yourself Russian in no time!
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