With over 150 million native Russian speakers in the world, spread across numerous countries, it's no wonder that many people are attracted to learning the Russian language.
With so many would-be Russian learners out there, many language learning companies rushed to the market pitting their course among others with the hopes of attracting new students of the language.
The upside of this is that students of Russian have a good variety of courses, programs, and apps to choose from. The downside is that with so many choices, it's hard to tell which learning tools are worth using and which aren't.
In this article we hope to cut through the fog and give you our top five courses for learning the Russian language. But before we do that, we should probably talk about what exactly makes a Russian course good...
What makes a Russian course good?
It's not afraid of Russian grammar
Russian is a language from the Slavic family of languages, which means it's further from English than other popular foreign languages like Spanish, French, or even German.
Thus there are multiple aspects of the language that you simply don't find in English. Some of these include grammatical gender (Russian has three), verb conjugations, reflexive verbs, differing verbs of motion, and most notably...the dreaded Russian case system.
Russian's grammatical case system
Beginners often struggle to make even some of the most basic sentences when learning Russian. The culprit is the case system. Russian nouns take different forms based on their function in a sentence.
To keep from turning this post into a grammar post you can check out the video below for a better explanation of grammatical cases in Russian. You can also check out some of our posts on the subject.
A good Russian course will help you tackle the 6 cases
All this to say, a good Russian course will help you not just use the Russian cases, but also understand and internalize them. A cardboard cutout of a Spanish language course simply won't do justice to the Russian language.
It teaches Russian holistically
Just about every modern language can be broken down into four parts: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Here at Live Fluent we stress the importance of learning Russian (and any other language) by using all four of these aspect for a holistic approach.
This is because it's a lot easier to internalize a word or phrase that you've read, heard, spoken, and written. Each aspect of the language reinforces the other three.
Learning this way also helps you understand the Russian language as a unified system. One skill in the language isn't divorced from the others.
A good course or program will give you the resources you need to learn each of part of the language as you see fit.
Our top 5 picks for learning Russian
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).
The course also features a separate category of lessons (called language and culture lessons), which break down Russian phrases into their separate grammatical parts. This allows you to learn the trickier parts of Russian grammar while you see them in action.
Overall Rocket Russian is a comprehensive course that does a great job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
If you're looking for a primary Russian learning tool that will take you from beginner to intermediate, then Rocket Russian might be the program for you.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Russianpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Russian conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Rocket Russian it's still a substantial learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
5+ minutes a day
Duolingo is usually one of the first courses we recommend for learning a foreign language. It's free, effective, and fun to use.
The app is built around a game-like format and largely teaches grammar via example sentences and definitions. Users are required to listen, speak, read, and write while using the app.
Duolingo is easily one of the most popular language learning apps out there.
It's success and popularity pretty much speak for itself. As said before the app is free to use, so if you haven't already, go and check it out!
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
The program uses 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.
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 vocabulary.
For the new Russian student the amount of available options for apps, courses, and programs can feel overwhelming. Hopefully this article helped clear of the smoke, and gave you the information you need to help you choose the program that's right for you!