Review of: Russianpod101
Use: Russian learning program made up of audio lessons. The lessons are organized in the style of individual podcasts.
Engaging podcasts help you learn words in context. But you'll have to practice speaking on your own
Free content and monthly plans at $4 to $47 per month
Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.
Ease of Use
Digital immersion without the tedious work
Podcasts are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.
- Over 1,200 podcast lessons
- Free content and affordable price
- Lessons are fun and interesting
- Built in flashcard system
I Don't Like
- No speaking required
- Limited community features
Summary: At prices from $4 to $47 per month Russianpod101 features over 1,000 audio lessons (podcasts). You are able to work through the podcasts in order of difficulty level or you can bounce around listening to the lessons you find most interesting.
Russianpod101 is an ideal tool for intermediates or those just starting out. If you’re more proficient in the language than it may not be a good fit for you.
The site’s strength is in the way it can help you practice pronunciation and listen to Russian native spekers. It’s also an engaging way of learning new vocabulary and grammar.
You can access all on the content through the website or through their mobile app. Being able to listen and practice with your smartphone is a great feature.
The site has free content and a 7 day trial available (no credit card required). This makes it easy to try the site out and see if you like it.
Subscription plans starting at $4 per month (Free plan available too)
Is Russianpod101 right for you?
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or have an intermediate level of proficiency in the Russian language, Russianpod101 is a great learning tool.
If you’re Russian speaking abilities are more developed then you might not get as much value from the site because most of their content is for the lower learning levels.
Because Russianpod101 is by and large an audio based site it’s an effective way to practice listening to native Russian speakers. The lessons use primarily scripted conversations and do a good job of explaining new vocabulary and grammar.
Also, if you’re looking for a learning app, Russianpod101 is available for Iphone, Ipad, and Android. It’s a great way to study Russian no matter where you find yourself (assuming you’re not in Siberia and have a phone connection).
Russianpod101’s podcast episodes generally run 10-15 minutes long. Every podcast functions as a Russian language lesson centered on a Russian conversation that has to do with either a grammar rule, cultural fact, or common Russian phrase.
The Russian conversations are always based on a scenario likely to happen in real life. You listen to a conversation where two people are chatting in a restaurant or accidentally bump into each other on the street. Russianpod101 tries keep their content applicable to the real world so that you learn Russian that you are likely to use.
Conversations are natural and interesting
The podcasts flow fairly naturally. Often the hosts will chime in and share stories or facts that help support the lesson material.
The tone of each episodes tends be light and sometimes even fun. This helps keeps the podcast fresh and interesting. Other Russian audio course could learn from this.
Tools & Resources
Russianpod101 also includes an array of learning tools and resources ranging from a russian dictionary, grammar sheets, to word lists. The majority of these tools can be found on the internet for free.
Still there are features available at the premium and premium plus subscription levels that are worth noting; like the flashcards, slow playback, and lesson transcriptions.
If you see word in a lesson that you want to review later simply choose it and add it to your deck. Anyone who’s spent hours compiling their own Anki deck will appreciate this feature.
You can listen to any Russian word from the podcast at normal or reduced speed. This is a great feature that will help you improve your Russian pronunciation and listening skills.
One of the more helpful features are the lesson transcripts. They are great for reviewing and confirming what you hear in the dialogues.
They are one of my favorite study tools because I copy and past the phrases and sentences into word doc and create cheat sheets for the next time I talk with a native speaker.
Russianpod101 comes with 3 different monthly subscriptions: basic, premium, and premium plus. The more months you pay for up front the less you end up paying per month (it’s like buying in bulk).
The basic level starts at $4 a month (for 24 months) and goes up to $8 per month (1 month). You pretty much get all the podcast episodes and not much else.
The premium level can be as cheap as $10 a month (24 months) or as expensive as $25 per month (1 month). Here you’ll get the entire podcast and the learning tools and resources.
The premium plus level is the highest priced at $22.88 per month (24 months) or as much as $47 per month (1 month). Here you get everything in the premium level along with personal assessment and instruction from a Russian teacher.
Which subscription is the best?
I’m tempted to say the basic level. In the end do you really have to have much more than the podcast catalogue? At it’s price point it’s a pretty good deal.
The premium level isn’t horrible either. It’s almost worth the price just for the lesson transcripts. The premium plus is the only one I’m weary of. The price is pretty high. You could probably get by with the basic level and then use the money you would’ve spent on premium plus to hire a tutor on Italki.
Shortcomings of Russianpod101
No speaking needed
Russianpod101 is a reputable learning tool, but it can’t meet all of your learning needs. It’s great for receiving inputs in the Russian language, but you will need to find Russian speakers in the real world or online to practice producing your own outputs.
No language learning community
It wouldn’t be hard for Russianpod101 to add to their site a way to connect with other people who use it to learn Russian. With language exchanges and learning sites popping up all the time it’d be cool to see Russianpod101 step up their game a little here.
Best way to use Russianpod101
Study & review
Russianpod101 works best a daily learning tool to go alongside a Russian course or learning method. To get the most out of it set aside a regular time each day to listen to an episode or two and review a few flashcards.
You can do this in about 15 minutes depending on how many episodes you listen to.
Listening & pronunciation
I probably don’t have to tell you that Russian pronunciation can be painfully difficult.
Use Russianpod101’s slow playback and episode transcripts to help you learn the individual sounds of Russian words and help take the edge of the language’s sound system. Then try to mimic what you hear in your own Russian accent.
Get most from your time
Most likely your day is full of short periods where you're waiting, going somewhere, or simply have nothing to do. With Russianpod101 on mobile you can use these periods to get some extra Russian practice in.
Alternatives to Russianpod101
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Russian is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Russian).
Rocket Russian is more structured and comprehensive than Russianpod101, and it's also well balanced and provides plenty of content on reading and writing in Russian.
Starts at $15 per month
5+ minutes a day
Fluentu is a site that helps you learn a language through native videos. Use in site flashcards, captions, and games to learn new words in context while watching Russian TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and Russian vocabulary.
30 minutes a day
They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
Russianpod101 is a fun and effective way to take the edge off your regular russian learning. The podcast lessons are interesting, if not entertaining, and will improve your Russian pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
But even with all its strengths Russianpod101 lacks the structure of a full Russian course so make sure you use the site along with other Russian materials.
Russianpod101 features a free trial that doesn’t requires any payment info, so it’s certainly worth signing up and using the site yourself to test it out.