Russian is definitely not an easy language. But it’s also not as hard as some people make you believe. A lot, of course, depends on which language is your native language.
But regardless of which language is your native language, I’m absolutely sure that the resources on this page can help anyone get started with our improve his knowledge of the Russian Language.
For me personally, it goes without saying that learning at least a bit of Russian is worth the effort if you’re considering to spend at least a bit of time in Russia. So, without further ado, here are the resources.
If you’re mainly an auditory person like myself audio courses are a great way to learn a new language. They imitate the way in which a human acquires a language as a kid and therefore they seem quite natural. Instead of being all tense while studying the language with audio courses you relax and absorb the language.
Pimsleur Russian Courses
Many people are critical about Pimsleur courses, because they don’t go very deep. And, although I agree with this criticism, I also know that the Pimsleur program has been an invaluable resource for me. Pimsleur doesn’t teach you a lot of the language, but it literally engrains the information in you.
Because the lessons are not very difficult they are a great place to start for the beginner. You can easily listen to the lessons while doing the dishes or going out for a stroll.
So, whereas Pimsleur surely does have its limits I think they are great for a beginner. I remember travelling to Belarus (where they also speak Russian) after not having studied more Russian than is taught in the Pimsleur course and being able to order something in Russian just fine. Actually my accent was so good after having listened to the Pimsleur method that people actually believed I was Russian, but when they started talking back to me I was not yet able to respond. So that is about the level where a not very active study of Russian with the help of Pimsleur’s audiocourses can take you.
Russianpod101 is another amazing resource that you can use to improve your Russian. Actually, Russianpod101 has a much wider offer of courses than Pimsleur. I didn’t use Russianpod101 when I didn’t know any Russian yet, that’s why I tend to think Pimsleur might be better for the absolute beginner.
But if you want to have more in depth knowledge, Russianpod101 is definitely better. They just have much more material. I just tried it for a week myself, but I am convinced that with enough discipline you can make huge improvements to your Russian with a resource like this.
Whereas with Pimsleur you pay per course, with Russianpod101 you buy a subscription. Prices are very reasonable and they often have discounts.
Check out the current prices at Russianpod101 right here.
Although I am a big fan of audio courses for language learning, I don’t believe you’ll get far if this is the only thing you’re doing to master the language. As Barbara Oakley describes in her book A Mind for Numbers, the brain needs to be approached in different ways in order to tackle a difficult subject. A great book, which I recommend.
The Best Book ever About Russian Vocabulary
Russian Learners’ Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order by Nicholas Brown is the best book ever about Russian vocabulary.
I know that many people don’t want to learn vocabulary, they prefer some more passive form of language acquisition. You should, however, realise that without a good basic knowledge of Russian vocabulary, you won’t get very far. According to a well-known theory, 95% of any language is covered by around 4000 words. So, if you would know the 4000 most used words in Russian, you would be able to understand 95% of all texts and conversations. Of course 95% is not perfect, but it’s a very solid basis
But when you’re starting out with a new language and you are compiling your own lists of vocabulary it all too often happens that you’re focussing on the wrong words. This super hard word that you were so proud you learned by heart? You will never hear it again. This can, of course, be frustrating.
With the help of this book you can avoid such ‘wasted effort’ (of course it’s not completely wasted, rather ineffective). This book will tell you exactly what you should focus on. Admittedly, it will still take effort, but you can be sure that this effort will be spent effectively.