Speaking Russian: Before You Begin
- First look at why you're learning Russian and how much time you have. If it's for a vacation in Russia, a few key phrases you study for ten minutes a day may suffice. Even knowing just a few words will help you communicate and understand what others are saying to you.
- To speak, read or write on a higher level, lessons with audio and written elements are necessary. And to get the best return on these lessons, studying regularly is important.
- No matter what your level of Russian is, take advantage of any chance you get to practice. Speaking (and understanding what is said to you) may be hard at first, but it will get easier with every word. So don't worry about making mistakes. Take the plunge and start speaking Russian!
Basic Russian Phrases
- Many sites have basic Russian phrases, but the best have audio files so you can hear the words and practice saying them yourself. Don't worry about what you sound like!
BBC Russian Phrases
- Visit the BBC's page of essential phrases.1
- Listen to the phrases being spoken as you read along.
- Download the MP3s to listen to whenever you can.
- Practice saying the phrases yourself.
- Record yourself so you hear how you sound.
- Print pages out to take with you!3
Omniglot Useful Russian Phrases
- Omniglot has put together a list of useful Russian phrases, showing the English phrase, the Cyrillic alphabet spelling and a phonetic spelling.4
- Click on the Cyrillic word to hear an audio recording of the phrase.5
Instant Communication: Let's Talk Russian
- Instant Communication: Let's Talk Russian is divided into sections by situation.6 Each situation is preceded by a vocabulary list and includes practice exercises.
- Select a situation.
- Review the vocabulary list.
- Do the practice exercises.
Other Fun Stuff
- Middlebury College's Russia Today website contains over 100 Russian signs, with pictures and translations.8
- Hello-World is a fun interactive site, which includes games and a pictorial dictionary to introduce you to the Russian language.9
Reading and Writing in Russian
- Cyrillic has 33 basic characters.11
- Bucknell University has an exercise to familiarize you with Cyrillic while teaching you a few basic Russian words.12
- If you're interested, Volga Writer has some background information on Cyrillic.13
Introductory Russian Lessons
Way to Russia
- This online tutorial takes you through an overview of the Cyrillic alphabet, basic grammar and conversational phrases.14
- There are seven online units, organized by topic, such as transportation, meeting people and shopping.
- In each unit, the word or phrase is spelled out in English, Cyrillic and a phonetic spelling of the Russian word.
- There's also an option to listen to the Russian pronunciation using Quick Time or Windows Media Player.
Cornell University Russian Grammar
- Cornell University has an entire course in basic Russian grammar online.15 The site is organized like a textbook, which you can access either through the Table of Contents or by a Subject Index.16 17 Before using it however, you need to download the Cyrillic fonts, so that it displays correctly on your computer.
Russian Language Lessons
- Russian Language Lessons has an introductory course online, taking you from the alphabet to the finer points of case and tense.19
- Read through the lesson.
- Whenever you see a small green box, you can click on it for pronunciation help.
- Use the exercises at the end of each lesson to reinforce what you've read.
- Test your knowledge with the "Russian Language Training" quiz at the end of each section. It's an online multiple choice quiz, which gives you instant feedback as to whether your answer is correct or incorrect.
- Move on to the next lesson after you've mastered the previous one.
- LiveMocha is an online learning community.20 You can follow their online courses, but also participate in the online community. You can ask fellow members for help with Russian and offer help to those who are learning English.
- Go to Live Mocha's home page.20
- Click on "Get Started" to register for a free account.
- Select that you want to learn Russian.
- You will receive a confirmation email; when it arrives click on the included link to activate your account.
- You have the option to upload a profile image; if you prefer click "Skip" to skip this step.
- Choose the online course "Russian 101."
- Begin with the section marked "Learn" on Unit 1, Lesson 1.
- Each lesson has four sections:
- Learn: Listen to words and phrases. Repeat the words as you hear them.
- Reading: Read words and phrases you just learned and select the correct image.
- Listening: Listen to the same words and phrases and select the correct image.
- Magnet: Now you must re-create the words and phrases. Choose from the presented words and drag them into the answer box, in the correct order.
Wikibooks Russian Textbook
- Wikibooks has an online Russian textbook designed to teach basic conversational Russian.21 As with all wiki projects, it's a work in progress. Currently it has several lessons, but no exercises or tests. There are sound files available for some lessons, but not all. It's best used in conjunction with one of the more comprehensive courses listed above.
Intermediate Russian Lessons
- Verb tenses, more complex dialogues, perfecting pronunciation: these intermediate lessons will help you become a much more polished Russian speaker.
Russian Language Mentor
- Russian Language Mentor has a number of detailed lessons including a course in Intermediate Russian Grammar.22
- You'll need to download the software for the Russian keyboard before beginning.23
- After you've successfully installed the keyboard, select the lessons from the left side of the page, in the order you wish to complete them.
- There are modules for Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Grammar Review, Cultural Literacy and Scientific and Technical Literacy, as well as "Fun Stuff" like crossword puzzles.
- The site recommends starting with the first four reading modules before advancing to the other sections.
- Each module should take 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete.
George Washington University
- These videos, hosted by George Washington University, are entirely in Russian.24 Although the instruction buttons are also in Russian, if you hover over them with your mouse, you'll get English help.
- Read the outline of the video's important points before watching it.
- Take the quiz after viewing the video.
- Bucknell University has a detailed course on Russian grammar that you can access via their online Russian Reference site.12
- Access each section through the Table of Contents.
- Sound files are available to download for pronunciation assistance.
- Each chapter ends with an interactive quiz. Type in your answer, and then check it by clicking on the "?" button.
Advanced Russian Lessons
- Here's where you put everything you've learned together. You'll see just how well you can really speak Russian!
- Russian Language Lessons maintains an index of Russian language articles with side-by-side English translations.25 You can hear the Russian spoken by clicking on the green icon.
- Try listening to the article first, then test your comprehension by reading the English translation.
- You can also test your comprehension by listening to Russian radio and television broadcasts.26
- These are more challenging as the pace of the speech is that of actual native speakers.
- Reading Russian newspapers and periodicals will also help you refine your skills.27
- You can access the BBC News online in Russian here.28
- Master Russian has the complete text of Anna Karenina in Russian and English.29 29 30
- Here's a collection of Russian Tongue Twisters for fun!31
Russian Videos and Podcasts
- Russian videos and podcasts can deepen your familiarity with the language.
- A Taste of Russian has podcasts you can download along with written transcripts of their contents.32 In these podcasts, you'll be listening to native Russian speakers having conversations about daily life.
- UCLA Center for World Languages has excerpts from famous Russian writers for the Intermediate to Advanced student.33
- Launch iTunes.
- In the Advanced menu, select Subscribe to Podcast.
- Enter the url http://www.international.ucla.edu/languages/technology/podcasts/russianliterature/rss.asp in the text box and click OK.
- UCLA has Business Russian Podcasts.34
- Expert Village has a video series encompassing basic Russian phrases that are needed when traveling.35
- Here's a humorous video blog introducing the Cyrillic alphabet.36
Additional Resources for Studying Russian
- Indo-European Language's Russian page has a range of lessons and vocabulary lists, from beginning to advanced.37 It doesn't have audio files, however, so it's best used alongside other lessons.
- You can build your Russian vocabulary at LanguageGuide.org.38
- The index is in Cyrillic, but you can hover over commands with your mouse to see English translation.
- Select the section you'd like to work on, and click on the section to reveal the detail page.
- Each page has an illustration with buttons corresponding to the picture.
- Hover over the button to see the word.
- Click on the button to hear it pronounced.
- You can listen to a Russian word of the day care of Declan Software's Foreign Language Learning Software.39
More Tips for Studying Russian
- While studying Russian, you'll find a Russian-English Dictionary to be helpful.40
- Check out your local university to see if they offer Russian classes or if there is a student or professor who can tutor you.
- Create or buy flash cards to test yourself. Have pictures or English words on one side and Russian words on the other. You can download flashcards to print for free at Flashcard Exchange.43
- Rent movies in Russian. Turn off the subtitles (or cover the bottom of your TV set).
- Listen to Russian music; try to understand the lyrics.
- Visit Russian restaurants where you live; if there are Russian speakers on staff, practice your Russian!
- Check out Mahalo's Guide to the Russian language.
References for How To Speak Russian
- ↑ BBC: Quick Fix
- ↑ BBC: Quick Fix MP3
- ↑ BBC: Quick Fix Pages
- ↑ Omniglot: Useful Russian Phrases
- ↑ Omniglot: History and Development of the Cyrillic Alphabet
- ↑ Instant Communication: Learn How to Speak Russian Quickly
- ↑ Wikitravel: Russian Phrasebook
- ↑ Middlebury College: Russian Signs
- ↑ Hello World: Hello-World Learn Russian online: Games, activities and songs!
- ↑ Wikipedia: Cyrillic Alphabet
- ↑ PBS: Face of Russia: Cyrillic Alphabet
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Bucknell University: An On-line Russian Reference Grammar
- ↑ VolgaWriter: Cyrillic History
- ↑ Way to Russia: Russian Language Online Tutorial
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Cornell University: Beginning Russian Grammar
- ↑ Cornell University: Beginning Russian Grammar Table of Contents
- ↑ Cornell University: Beginning Russian Grammar Subject Index
- ↑ Cornell University: Beginning Russian Grammar Cyrillic Fonts
- ↑ RussianLessons.net: Russian Language Lessons
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Live Mocha
- ↑ Wikibooks: Russian
- ↑ RussianMentor.net: Russian Language Mentor
- ↑ RussianMentor.net: Russian Keyboard
- ↑ George Washington University Videos: Golosa
- ↑ RussianLessons.net: Russian Language Articles
- ↑ Broadcast Live: Live Radio and Television from Russia
- ↑ MIT: Russian Language News and Magazines
- ↑ BBC News: BBCRussian.com
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 Master Russian: Leo Tolstoy
- ↑ Master Russian: Anna Karenina, English
- ↑ Uebersetzung: Russian Tongue Twisters
- ↑ A Taste of Russian: Educational Podcasts
- ↑ UCLA: Russian Literature Language Podcasts from the UCLA Center for World Languages
- ↑ UCLA: Business Russian Podcast
- ↑ Expert Village: Basic Russian for Travel & Getting Around
- ↑ YouTube Video: RL101 - 1 :Some Enchanted Evening to Learn Russian! (Time: 9:57)
- ↑ Indo-European Languages Tutorials: Russian I
- ↑ LanguageGuide.org: Russian: Vocabulary Guide
- ↑ Declan Software: Audio Word of the Day
- ↑ Amazon.com: Russian-English Dictionary
- ↑ RusUSA.com: English-Russian Dictionary and Russian-English Dictionary Online
- ↑ Alta Vista: Babel Fish Translation
- ↑ Flashcard Exchange: Russian Flashcards