Unfortunately, there are over 50 Russian podcasts available online.
So it’s difficult to figure out which one you should listen to.
In this article we’ll go over 8 underrated Russian podcasts for Russian learners.
You’ll learn exactly which podcast teaches you what type of Russian, and if it’s suitable for you.
Here’s a short summary where you can find Russian podcasts.
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8 Best Russian Podcasts to learn Russian:
- RussianPod101: enough content to go from beginner to upper intermediate
- News in Slow Russian: listen to real news at a slow pace
- Very Much Russian: great for beginners trying out podcasts
- Russian Made Easy: for absolute beginners learning Russian
- Michel Thomas Russian: most effective beginner podcast
- Speaking Russian: podcast focused on learning new vocabulary
- Russian Podcast: listen to real life dialogues
- Slow Russian Podcast: podcast with more history and culture
5 Tips to learn Russian with Russian podcasts
Before we dive deeper into Russian podcasts, let’s first discuss a couple of tips that will help you get 10 times more out of each podcast.
I’ve been listening to Russian podcasts for several years now, and these are the things I wish I knew when I started learning Russian in 2016:
- Relisten to lessons. After you’ve gone through a ‘season’, or ‘lesson pack’, re-listen to all the episodes. You’ll find there are many things you’ve missed the first time listening. This will help you master all the material before continuing with more difficult podcast lessons.
- Listen with intention. When you listen to a podcast, try to actively listen. Just hearing the words and paying 50% attention won’t be as helpful as actively listening.
- Pause. Most podcasts ask you questions. Or have times when you need to think. Instead of just continuing to listen to the next fragment, pause the podcast. Pause the lessons, think about it for a maximum of 10 seconds, and continue listening.
- Consistency is key. No one ever got fluent in Russian by listening to a podcast once a week. You must listen daily for a long period of time for this to have an actual effect. Don’t expect instant results. But also understand that if you do this daily for a couple of months, that the results will positively surprise you.
- Make it into a habit. Every time you walk your dog, you start listening. Or everytime you sit down in the metro commuting to work you start listening. Or every time you walk to the grocery store, you start listening. If you start a podcast at the same moment every day (or several times per week), your brain will associate that exact moment with putting in your earplugs, and listening to the podcast. This will make it into a habit. And guess what? You’re now making progress in Russian on autopilot, congratulations 😉
Best podcasts to learn Russian
Below are the best Russian language podcasts currently out there. Each is good in it’s own way. You’ll first find a short description of each podcast, which is then followed by a recommendation which Russian learners should listen to that exact podcast.
1. RussianPod101: enough content to go from beginner to upper intermediate
RussianPod101 is a collection of audio lessons. They have more than a 100 hours of lessons available, and the main thing that this podcast does well is the structure of each lesson.
- 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
- Commonly used expressions
- The dialogue again – so you can test the things you’ve learned
Each episode takes around 10 to 20 minutes. 15 minutes on average. The good thing is that throughout the lessons, you learn new Russian words and phrases, grammatical concepts, and improve your listening skills. You also learn about the history and culture of Russia.
The episodes are held by native speakers and non-native speakers. This gives a nice dynamic between a teacher and learner.
Who should listen to RussianPod101?
I would recommend RussianPod101 to everyone who already has basic knowledge of the Russian language. This podcast is great for getting from beginner to upper intermediate level.
Unfortunately the super beginner lessons can be a bit messy. So it’s better to listen to another more beginner focused podcast for a week or two, and then switch to RussianPod101.
This is the Russian podcast that I listened to for 1.5 year. And I attribute most of my Russian skills to it.
It’s a paid podcast. Different levels go from $4 to $47 per month. They have a lot of other features. But I recommend you to check the free trial for 7 days, and then decide if you like their style of listening.
2. News in Slow Russian: listen to real news at a slow pace
This is a project by Kristina Malidovskaya, a native Russian speaker. She adapts news stories, and reads them at slower speed than the original. This is great if you’re not yet at the point where you can read news stories yourself.
It’s also a different type of Russian lesson. Instead of focusing on conversations, you learn a bit about the world. While I think conversational practice is best, it doesn’t harm to mix things up. You’ll learn a whole new type of vocabulary that way.
Currently there are over 500 lessons available. Each lesson is a couple of minutes long, so you can easily get into the habit of listening to a new story every day. Though I would recommend you spend more time. Listen first to the news story at normal speed without looking at the text. Then listen to the news in slower spoken Russian, while looking at the text. It’s also great that she added the stress in each word.
Who should listen to News in Slow Russian?
It’s a good podcast for intermediate and advanced learners. Since there is no translation, it’s not suitable for beginner learners.
3. Very Much Russian: great for beginners trying out podcasts
Very Much Russian is a solid podcast where you can also listen to a selection of random topics. The podcasts are quite short, as each tells a short story. Sometimes it’s about news, sometimes about a specific type of vocabulary, sometimes about Russian culture, and sometimes it’s really a bit random.
The good part about this Russian podcast is that it’s available for free. However, if you want to download the offline materials, you need to pay. That’s okay, as it’s a good collection of resources. And that they include the translation underneath the transcripts. This makes it more beginner friendly.
Who should listen to Very Much Russian?
I would recommend Very Much Russian for upper beginners. That’s because the topics and episodes are still quite difficult. However, with the translation, it’s a good test to see how good your Russian is. If you can understand the spoken Russian at least a bit, it’s good enough. As you can understand the rest of the episode by reading the translation. Though I recommend you first try without reading the translation.
4. Russian Made Easy: for absolute beginners learning Russian
Russian Made Easy is a podcast by Mark Thomson. He’s not a native speaker, but is a foreigner who learned the language just like me. So this is one of the few Russian podcasts that has mainly been designed by a non-native Russian speaker. The podcasts feature a native speaker, so you’ll still hear the correct pronunciation.
There are 30 episodes of around 20 minutes on average. The entire podcast is available for free. You can also get the transcripts and exercises for free. What I like most about the podcast is that it’s basically a short course. It has a clear beginning, and ending point. Some podcasts just jump in at a specific difficulty, and then keep on making endless more content at that difficulty. While that approach is great for intermediate and advanced learners, it’s nice to have a clear start point.
Who should listen to Russian Made Easy?
If you are completely new to learning Russian, I recommend you try out Russian Made Easy. As it also covers mindset, and cognates for example. It starts from scratch, so it’s good for beginners. And because it’s free there’s no risk in listening to a couple of lessons, and seeing if it works for you.
5. Michel Thomas Russian: most effective beginner podcast
The Michel Thomas Russian course is the first podcast that I listened to. I still have fond memories of it.
It’s an older method. It consists of 20 CD’s, each about 1 hour long. Don’t worry though, these are available as MP3 nowadays. So it’s not officially a podcast, but if it were to be created today, it would get that label for sure.
During the lessons you will take part in a group class. There is 1 native speaker teacher, Natasha Bershadski. And 2 other beginner Russian students, just like you. In the lessons, the teacher asks questions and explains grammatical concepts. Just like in a normal class. She asks questions, and the other students answer. They often make common mistakes, and this teaches you what to avoid.
The main strength of this course is the solid progression structure. And the focus on actual spoken Russian. Just by listening to a couple of hours of this course, you will already be able to say complicated sentences.
Who should listen to Michel Thomas Russian?
If you want to learn Russian, I recommend you listen to this course. The clarity with which grammatical structures are explained, will teach you something even if you’re already an intermediate or advanced speaker. Even though the course itself is aimed at Russian beginners, any Russian learner will get something out of this.
6. Speaking Russian: podcast focused on learning new vocabulary
Speaking Russian is a podcast that focuses on specific vocabulary. Currently there are 183 podcasts of around 3 to 6 minutes long. This makes it a good podcast to listen to once per day. Since they mainly focus on learning new vocabulary, I wouldn’t listen to these podcasts as your ‘main’ Russian learning podcast.
Who should listen to Speaking Russian?
If you feel that your vocabulary lacks behind your grammatical or Russian speaking skills, you should listen to this podcast. Though I usually recommend learning the bulk of your vocabulary through apps such as Ankidroid. But if you prefer the audio format, then this podcast is good for you.
7. Russian Podcast: listen to real life dialogues
This podcast is an older podcast made by Tatiana Klimova. By now she has a collection of over 300 podcasts. Most of the beginner ones are still available for free, but the newer ones require a subscription.
What I like about this podcast is that it features real Russian dialogues. This is great for language learning, as you actually hear people talk about their daily life. The dialogues are between 2 native Russian speakers, so that also helps you improve your listening skills a lot. First they say the dialogue slowly. And then they’ll say it at normal speed.
This is actually the other way around than what I recommend though. As it’s better to first push yourself and see how much you understand the Russian language at normal speed. And then fill up what you didn’t get, with a dialogue at the slow speed.
I do like that the lesson notes are very detailed, and show exactly the new words that you are learning in that lesson.
Who should listen to Russian Podcasts?
Since there is no English translation here, it’s not a good podcast for beginners. I recommend this to intermediate learners, though advanced Russian learners can also get good practice out of it.
8. Slow Russian Podcast: podcast with more history and culture
This Podcast is a podcast by Daria Molchanova. It has over 70 episodes where she takes interesting topics from Russian culture, and explains them in slower Russian.
She does not only say the words slowly, but sometimes takes a break to give more cultural background. The downside is that she did not add the stresses on the words in the transcripts. There is a translation however, and this is helpful.
Just like many other podcasts, the content is available for free on the website. But if you want to download the MP3 files, you are asked to pay a small price (currently $20) to download the files and transcripts.
Who should listen to the Slow Russian Podcast?
I would recommend you listen to this Russian language podcast if you are an upper beginner to upper intermediate learner. The lessons are a bit longer with more history and cultural context, so if you also want to learn more about that, then this podcast would make sense for you. Unfortunately, as there is no normal speed Russian, I wouldn’t recommend it from upper intermediate. Then it’s really better to practice with Russian dialogues at normal speed.
What should you do next to learn the Russian language?
I hope you’ve got a good overview of the current Russian language podcasts and audio lessons out there. Podcasts are truly a great way to improve your listening skills. They’re also available for each level: from absolute beginner to intermediate and advanced learners.
The most important decision now, is to choose one single podcast. Pick the one that resonates most with you, and listen to it for at least 2 months. Switching randomly between different Russian podcasts is not helpful at all. Sticking to one thing till you see results is the best approach.
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