My Story

I was born in Weert, the Netherlands in 1993. In high school I never excelled in languages, except for English.

Why? Because every Dutch person already knows English to a degree (Dutch is one of the closest languages to English), plus I played a lot of English video games from age 11 to 18 🙂

I didn’t like German/French classes, and preferred math, chemistry and biology.

That’s why I went to study Biotechnology in Wageningen.

In my last year I had a colleague from a side job that came from Ukraine when he was still very young.

We were having beers after work, and he said “do you want to learn some Russian words?”

“Sure, why not?”

The first Russian words I learned were “ну ты блин козел”

Which translates to “well, you’re a damn goat”

Russian had peaked my interest and the next day I downloaded an audio course and slowly started listening to it.

I listened maybe around 20 hours of lessons in the next half year. That was from November 2014 to July 2015.

After that I went to study in Madrid, Spain for a year. And since you need Spanish there, I started listening to Spanish audio courses.

I got some theoretical knowledge, but speaking never turned out well while there.

I attribute that to a couple of things:

  • I was hanging out with a lot of international students, so I spoke a lot English.
  • I enjoyed Spanish, but my heart wasn’t really into it.
  • I didn’t practice daily speaking.
  • And lastly, most importantly: I met a Russian girl at my studies and we started dating.

I met her October 2015, and things started to get serious beginning of 2016. In the beginning of April she asked if I wanted to come to Russia to meet her parents, and I agreed.

That’s when I started learning Russian again. After all, meeting her dad, who doesn’t speak English, was going to be a little scary 🙂

So I seriously started learning Russian beginning of 2016.

We went to Moscow in June 2016 and we had a great time. We also went to Saint Petersburg and to Black Sea in the south.

Me and her dad also went hunting, and even though my Russian was basic, we had a lot of fun hunting and could even have some very simple conversations.

After I came back from Russia, I moved back to the Netherlands. We made plans for my girlfriend to come to Holland.

She was still working in Madrid at that time, but we started all the visa procedures in 2016.

We had a long distance relationship till October 2017. That was horrible.

But while waiting for that to end, I just kept on listening to lessons, learning new words and watching Russian series at home for about an hour a day.

Then in November 2017 we started living together in the Netherlands, and we still live together 🙂

My Russian continued to get better that year.

Then about a year later I found I was plateauing with my Russian. I could have normal conversations, but all the courses were starting to get a little basic. So I asked people online how to overcome that.

The advice that changed my life was to watch the youtube channels of Джастин and Когда ты Нурия. 2 Foreigners who had Russian language channels.

So I uploaded a video for fun to YouTube.

I never expected so many good reactions. In 24 hours it got over a 1000 views and more than 100 positive comments.

So I made another video the next week.

And another one the week after.

And that just never stopped.

After 2 years of making video’s the channel had more than 100.000 subscribers and 11 million views.

Since then, so many people have asked me how I learned Russian, that I decided to make this site a great resource for other foreigners who are learning Russian.

That’s because there are so many sites that just overwhelm you with information, without an integral approach to how you should learn the language.

My approach can be summed up in 1 sentence:

Create simple lasting habits that ensure you make daily progress with your Russian speaking skills.

Create simple lasting habits – do simple things daily so that they become structural parts of your life.

that ensure you make daily progress – so you don’t need to force yourself to practice every day, since your habits will be so strong.

with your Russian speaking skills – we want to speak. Not be a grammar hero.

I sincerely hope you find useful things on the site that help you achieve conversational Russian.

Enjoy 🙂

Ari Helderman

P.S. if you enjoyed reading my story and want to know how I learned Russian? Follow my free email course here – and learn how to speak conversational Russian in 6 months: