Assimil Russian Review: Is the Course Still Relevant for Learning Russian?

By Ari Helderman
May 2, 2022
assimil russian review

One of the older programs out there to learn a new language is Assimil. It originated from the French speaker Alphonse Chérel, who created the program in 1929. At the time it was a very disruptive approach to how languages were learned in schools. But is it still relevant this day and age? If you’re on the verge of getting yourself the course, then be sure to read this Assimil Russian review first.

It will teach you a lot about the course, whether it’s for you, what types of people can benefit the most from it and of course where you can get it for a good price (if you’re interested). So, let’s not wait any longer and dive into this Assimil Russian review.

Assimil Russian review

As said in the introduction, the program is almost 90 years old. At first it was only available from French to Russian, but these days there is an English course as well. Unfortunately this only goes for the beginner course – so if you’re more advanced, it might be a good idea to skip Assimil.

The program features 100 lessons. The first half are the ‘passive’ lessons. In these you focus on simply reading, listening and taking in information. You won’t have to do any active translation or trying to form sentences. It’s recommended to do approximately 1 lesson per day – so after a bit more than 1.5 months you will have completed this part. I think it’s a very good idea that you first get to passively sink in the language, before you really get on to the active stuff. That will make sure that you know some more background knowledge, your pronunciation will be better – and you’ll be able to make faster progress. (although maybe not as fast as when you would’ve started speaking from the beginning).

The second half is active. That is where you will be actively translating sentences so that you can increase your vocabulary and understand more of the Russian language. In addition, you can still do some passive lessons in order to keep the listening and reading part going.

assimil russian review on amazon
Learn Russian with Assimil!
Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

What I like about Assimil Russian

#1 Learn lots of vocabulary

I’ve always said that for English speakers one of the difficult things for Russian is the vocabulary. You simply can’t use too much *loan words* from English to Russian, then you can with Spanish or French for example. Every word you have to learn from scratch. What Assimil does right is that it presents you with a large vocabulary. At the end of the course you will have learnt somewhere between 2000 and 3000 words. Now, that’s enough for a virtually all basic conversations.

#2 Simple system

The system is very simple. Just do 1 lessons per day. Now, you can take a rest on the weekend to let it sink in a bit more and to start fresh the next Monday. But if you just follow 1 lesson per day you will finish the course in 3 to 4 months. Every lesson is somewhere from 30 to 60 minutes, and everyone who is serious about learning Russian can make this time for it.

#3 Book form + audio

I love audio for learning Russian. It teaches valuable listening skills + you can practice your pronunciation. I also love lessons in book form. There is something very appealing about having a little book with you at times that you can scrabble in and do small exercises.

Assimil has both. And the book is a small one, so you won’t be carrying a 2-pound behemoth with you. Just put it in your bag if you’re going to work/travelling/university. And the audio you can plug in your phone and also listen to it on the go.

#4 Learn how to pronounce correctly

Touched upon this lightly in the previous paragraph. Audio is by far the best way to learn how to pronounce correctly. And because you spend the first half of the program passively taking in the Russian language, you’ll develop a better feeling for pronunciation, than if you were to dive in right from the start. It might not be the most flashy and fast method, but if you like to take things at a quiet effective pace, then Assimil will provide the right course for you.

#5 Good for beginners

After every lesson, there is a short explanation of the grammar. You will have access to a good book, and audio and you’ll learn a ton of vocabulary. There even is some cultural information sprinkled throughout the program. All this is great if you’re a beginner learner and want to learn Russian.

2 Types of people who will benefit the most from Assimil Russian

This Assimil Russian review wouldn’t be complete without a recommendation who can benefit the most from the program. So see if you identify with one of the following types of people:

  • Complete beginners who want to ease into learning Russian – the program might feel a bit outdated at times, but its slow-but effective pace will teach you all the essentials you need to get started with the Russian language.
  • For people who aren’t that much into speaking Russian – one thing the program doesn’t do enough in my opinion is pushing you to speak. They actually claim that you won’t have to speak in order to get to B2 level after the course. That is nonsense. So if you’re more into learning the language for other purposes than really speaking – or you have a friend that you can practice speaking Russian with yourself, Assimil is right for you.

Assimil Russian review conclusion

Even though the program is quite old, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work anymore. The strategies are based on old principles and that means that you can learn Russian with it. I mainly recommend it for beginners who are looking to get a good introduction to the language. For advanced learners, you’re better of getting another program that focuses more on speaking.

If you’re interested in getting the course after reading this Assimil Russian review – you can do so here on Amazon.

P.S. Assimil Russian is a great program if you’re a beginner and wat to learn Russian at your own pace. Click here to order the course!

What should you do next?

Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • listening skills
  • speaking skills

That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.

And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.

And then you will start making progress on autopilot.

This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.

If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman