Summary: Online Russian courses allow you to progress faster for less money than regular real life classes. If your main goal is to learn spoken Russian, I recommend you try out the Russian course RussianPod101. It’s an audio based course made by native speakers that teaches you vocabulary, grammar, and listening skills. It’s also fun to listen to, which makes it easier to spend a lot of time listening to it.
When someone asks me how I learned Russian so well, they’re usually surprised when I tell them that I’ve NEVER taken real life classes.
I started learning Russian in 2016, and even back then there were already so many good Russian courses out there on the internet, that you really don’t need normal classes anymore.
In this article, we are going to discuss the 20 best courses that you can find online to learn Russian. So let’s get started.
3 Reasons why you should choose online Russian classes
There are plenty of reasons why you can decide to skip the offline classes, and only choose online Russian classes. Below are the 3 main reasons why people prefer Russian classes online.
Follow at your own pace
If you’re following a real life class, you sit in a group of people. That means that the teacher has to divide her attention to multiple people. But often there is one person who needs more attention than the rest.
If this person is the least smart in the class, then that means that the entire class will be progressing at the speed of the slowest person.
This is great if you are the slowest person in the group.
But if you’re reading my site, I can only assume that you’re more motivated than average to learn the Russian language well.
So it’s much better to follow online Russian courses and classes.
The reason for that is because you can follow them at your own pace. If you have a day without much to do, you can spend an hour or 2 listening to Russian courses. Or do more grammar exercises than you normally do.
This extra pace means that you can achieve much more in a short period of time, than if you were to follow in person classes.
Cheaper than real life Russian classes
Close to my place in Amsterdam there is a Russian woman who teaches Russian. Her course is 16 lessons, and a total of 24 hours. The classes are twice per week for 8 weeks.
The total price is 395 euro.
That’s not expensive for a good Russian course. But if you pay 395 euro for 24 hours of studying, that’s around 16,50 euro per hour.
Again, that’s fine. But now imagine you sign up for an online Russian class such as RussianPod101 for $25 per month. You spend half an hour per day on every weekday learning. That’s a total of 10 hours for $25. Now you pay $2.50 per hour of lessons.
Sure, it’s comparing apples to pears, but if you’re on a budget, it’s way better to choose online Russian language classes.
The final argument for picking online Russian classes is that you have much more choice.
I learn best through listening to audio courses, and practicing speaking often.
Some people do better when they read Russian stories. Others do better writing materials down.
Others prefer apps that visualize learning Russian on a screen.
I also learn best when there’s some humor involved. I tried learning through Pimsleur, and I couldn’t even get past the first half hour as I found it too boring.
Compare that to listening to audio courses such as Michel Thomas or RussianPod101. Those were a lot more fun to listen to, and therefore made it much easier to spend a lot of time learning the Russian language.
The point is this: if you follow offline Russian classes, you likely can only choose between one or two classes.
If you go for online Russian courses, you can now choose between hundreds of different courses.
And that means that you can choose one that fits your style of learning best.
And the better it suits your style of learning, the more progress you make at the same time. And the more progress you make, the more you will be motivated to continue learning. Which makes you progress even faster.
20 of the best Russian language classes online
Okay, enough talk about why it’s better to learn Russian online. Below is a compilation of the best Russian language classes you can follow online in 2021.
Some of them are YouTube channels. Others are online audio courses. Even others are apps. Like we said before, find what you prefer most, and then spend most of your time learning through that method.
RussianPod101 is a collection of audio lessons. What I like most about their audio lessons is that they are approximately 15 minutes long, so it’s easy to get into the habit of listening to 1 or 2 every single day.
Each lesson also covers the most important topics of learning Russian: grammar, vocabulary, common expressions, listening practice, and even a bit of cultural information.
Each lesson goes as follows:
- A short dialogue in Russian (20-50 seconds)
- The same dialogue – still in Russian, but now spoken slowly
- The dialogue with its English translation
- New vocabulary + translation
- Explanation of new grammatical concepts
- Common used expressions
- The dialogue again – so you can test the things you’ve learned
So basically if you listen to a lesson per day, and add extra Russian conversation practice, you’ll get far.
Another good thing is that there is a lot of content available on RussianPod101. You can go from complete beginner, to upper intermediate. Only their advanced lessons aren’t that good anymore.
Apart from the audio lessons they also have plenty of video lessons, quizzes and lists of common words. Though I’ve never used those intensively. Just the audio courses are good enough. It has a free trial, so you can test for yourself if you like the course. Sign up for the free trial here.
Michel Thomas Russian
Michel Thomas is another audio course. It has around 24 hours of lessons, and it focuses on complete, absolute beginners.
This is the course I would recommend if you do not have any knowledge of Russian at all. Or if you have experience, but want to brush up on the basics. It also teaches you the Russian alphabet.
When listening to the lessons, you are joining a class. There are 2 other students, and a teacher: Natasha Bershadzki. She’s a native speaker and great at explaining the intricacies of Russian grammar.
Russian Conversational Blueprint
The Russian Conversational Blueprint is my own course. It’s not a traditional language course, but rather a step by step system to learn how to speak real Russian.
50 years ago there was a lack of learning Russian material.
These days, there is rather too much learning Russian material. There are so many Russian language courses available that it’s difficult to find where to start.
And once you’ve started, you likely get ‘shiny object syndrome’ and you’ll want to try another course.
When the best thing is to pick one system, follow it for at least a month, and then reevaluate.
The Russian Conversational Blueprint is a step-by-step system to learn Russian quickly and easily, so you can begin to enjoy conversations with native Russian speakers in just a few short weeks.
It’s the course I wish I had when I started learning Russian. It contains everything I’ve learned over the last 6 years in learning Russian to a high level myself. And what I learned helped hundreds of others learn Russian as well. You can get the course here.
Russian Accelerator is another audio course. The good thing about this course is that it has around 45 hours of audio lessons. And during each lesson you will learn through contextual learning. So it’s not just randomly learning new words. It’s a solid Russian language course to get to an intermediate level.
FluentU is a different type of Russian class. It teaches you Russian through real world video content. If you’re more the visual type of learner, I recommend you try it out.
Grammar Hero is the intermediate grammar course from Olly Richards, the man behind I Will Teach You Language. If you struggle with Russian grammar, this is one of the best online Russian classes that you can take.
Olly uses his talent for story based learning to help you better learn the Russian cases, verb conjugation and other parts of the Russian language grammar system.
Russian With Max
Russian With Max is the YouTube channel and podcast of Max. What I like most about his content is that it’s good for intermediate students, since he does most of his lessons completely in Russian. He also creates authentic content. He often travels around in Russia and makes videos about it. So if you’re unable to travel to Russian yourself, or you would like to travel there more often, watching Russian With Max is a good alternative.
Be Fluent in Russian
Another good YouTube channel is from Fedor. Be Fluent in Russian focuses on bite sized lessons that focus on a specific group of words. He dives deep into how you can use specific verbs, or other words in which situations. It’s a good online Russian class to follow on YouTube. And since the lessons are short, you can easily watch a couple of them whenever they land in your recommended videos on YouTube.
Red Kalinka is a collection of many different types of online Russian classes. They have been around for a long time and have had many successful students. You also get access to native speaker tutors, which is a great thing. I personally prefer Russian courses that have fewer options, so there is a clearer path of progression, but Red Kalinka is a solid option if you want a complete resource to learn Russian.
Busuu is another good language learning app. But just like Duolingo and Babbel it suffers a bit when it comes to actual progression. Sure, you can learn new Russian vocabulary, and the app is convenient to spend some time every day. But you cannot count on it to actually learn to speak Russian.
Another frequently used language learning app is Babbel. It’s more structured compared to Duolingo and Babbel, but unfortunately it is paid. And for the price you are better off signing up for one of the solid Russian courses, such as Russianpod101 or Michel Thomas Russian.
Duolingo is likely the most well known app to learn a foreign language. You install the app and learn new words for about 5 to 10 minutes per day. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a complete beginner and are unsure if you want to pursue learning Russian, I recommend you try Duolingo for a week or 2. After that you’ll have a much better understanding of Russian . And that will help you decide whether you want to seriously learn the Russian language or not.
Russian for Free
RussianforFree is a collection of specific Russian courses. As the name implies, following each Russian course is free. What I like most about their platform are the dual language texts that include audio. They are great to listen to, and are a good exercise for anyone who wants to see how well their Russian is.
Russian for Everyone
This site is another good option if you want to learn the Russian language. It’s a free online Russian course that mainly focuses on Russian grammar. While I prefer audio programs to learn the grammar side, it’s always good to get the information from different sources.
Rocket Russian is another good Russian course for language learners that prefer to follow a structured audio program. It follows a podcast based approach and is great when you are learning the language by yourself.
Glossika Russian is an online Russian course that works with spaced repetition. You won’t find any long dialogues between native speakers. But rather it’s great to learn specific vocabulary. Every day you hear new Russian words, with their translations. And you also listen to words you have already heard. Because of this spaced repetition it’s a good way to improve your language skills in Russian. Though it’s a course that works best as a supplement.
Another of the more well known Russian courses is Pimsleur. I’m not a huge fan of the method as I find it a bit boring, but if you are planning to travel to Russia in a month, and need a quick way to learn basic vocabulary, Pimsleur would be a good choice.
Rosetta Stone Russian
The Rosetta Stone Russian course is quite controversial. Since they do not give you an explicit explanation of grammar, you must figure a lot of it out by yourself. This is great for some people, but for others it can be very difficult. I would recommend you give it a try. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t and you want more explanation of the Russian grammar, then try Russianpod101.
Which online Russian courses should you follow?
Okay, so we discussed many different Russian courses here. If your main focus is to learn spoken Russian, I would recommend you look at the following things:
- It’s an audio course
- It teaches you vocabulary
- It explains parts of the grammar system
- It’s made by native speakers
- The lessons are bite-sized so you can always squeeze in a lesson (this helps with habit formation)
If I look at all these points, the Russian course that comes closest to all these points is RussianPod101. You can sign up for the free trial here.
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:
- 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.