Are you just starting out learning Russian? Do you want to shave off months of the learning curve? And do you want to know what the best resources are to learn Russian for beginners?
Then you’re at the right place on this page. Russian is a tough language and if you want to learn it you have to be serious about it. It can take a long time before you’ll be able to actually speak Russian – but there’s good news…
If you take the right approach, use the best resources and practice a lot. Then you can achieve a lot in a short period of time.
Now, I cannot control how much you practice and how much effort you put into learning Russian…
However, I can give you the 3 resources that have helped me the most when I was just a beginner!
I started 3 years ago learning my first Russian words – but I didn’t take it too seriously. Luckily, that changed when I met a Russian girl. Now it’s 3 years later and I’ve been on several trips to Russia, where I’ve met many Russians and had great conversations and good times with them. I can even watch Russian movies now without subtitles.
If you’re also interested in finding out what the best resources are to learn Russian for beginners, then read further!
Top 3 resources to learn Russian for beginners
Before we get into the top resources to learn Russian for beginners, let me give you a quick overview of what it is exactly what makes a Russian program a good tool for beginners. Because as you know, beginners have different needs than someone who is an intermediate in Russian.
And this does not only apply to the difficulty level of the course. Beginner resources also have different objectives. For instance:
- A beginner program has to focus on all the aspects of the language (vocabulary, grammar, conversation, listening and more)
- It should incorporate some fun into the program (in my opinion every good language learning program should do this – but it’s especially important in the beginning)
- And last, every good program for beginners should have the ability to cultivate interest of the beginners for Russian. What do I mean by that? Well, the most effective program might teach you more words in a specific timeframe, but if that program does not make you more interested in the language… Then what’s the use? A good program for learning Russian for beginners should therefore fascinate the student!
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the best resources to learn Russian for beginners!
You might have heard of Michel Thomas before. He is famous for escaping from a concentration camp in World War II and fighting against the Germans. But he also founded a very effective method for language learning. His method is called the Michel Thomas method and works by focusing on speaking a language from the first minute. This not only helps you get a feeling for the language, but it is also a great way to make language learning more fun!
I even wrote an entire article how to focus on speaking Russian, which included this tip (as I learned it from his methodology). Anyway, Michel Thomas was the first method I tried for learning Russian. It’s very effective and it got me easily through the beginner stages. The main strength of Michel Thomas Russian for beginners is that it effectively introduces all the things you need when you’re just starting out learning Russian.
The main focus is on speaking, and you will first learn a couple of simple words and phrases “This is the center – Where is the Bolshoj Theather?”. But in the next couple of hours (there are in total 16 CD’s. Each about an hour long) you will expand to more difficult sentences. And everything will gradually be built up, so there’s no point where you feel overwhelmed.
How do I use the Michel Thomas method?
It’s available in audio and you can listen to it while commuting to work, cooking a meal or cleaning your house. That makes it a perfect way to learn Russian for busy people. As you don’t have to set aside time to practice. A bonus is that you can always pick up where you last left your session – so if you happen to only have 10 minutes a day to practice Russian, no problem. You can just sneak in some practice anywhere possible.
The only downside might be its scope. It’s a great way to really drill down the basics, but after a couple of months of practice with the Michel Thomas method, you have to switch to another program to make further progress.
Click here to get access to the Michel Thomas method Russian for beginners!
Russian language learning books
Another great method to learn Russian for beginners are books. And I don’t mean the boring grammar books that you probably have in mind right now. No, I mean real books. Or at least ‘edited’ real books to make them more appropriate for your level of language learning. I myself like to read at least a couple of pages every day to practice my Russian reading skills – and the great thing about this habit is that…
Books in Russian are available in every difficulty level!
So it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced learner of Russian. Books can help you at every stage of your learning. But since this page is all about learning Russian for beginners, I will give you some types of books that will help you get a grasp for the language.
Here’s an overview of books that can help you make your progress in Russian even faster
- Dual language books are books that are written in 2 languages. These books are available in many different variants, but the best part is that you can find any type of genre you might like at any difficulty level. Mostly you’ll find the Russian story on the left pages and the English story on the right
- Russian classics made easier are classic stories that have been ‘dumbed down’ a bit. The story remains intact. It’s just the words and grammar of the text that are easier to understand. All you need to do is find an appropriate book for your level of Russian. mostly the difficulties are marked with the CEFR scale (A1 – C2).
- Fun grammar books that focus on a story. These books are rare. They are like a textbook, but instead of using just boring grammar and words, they usually focus on a little story. And everything in this story is then explained with a concise vocabulary list and the necessary grammar rules. The main advantage is that the stories are fun, and that makes you want to understand the grammar and vocabulary!
Where to find these books in Russian for beginners?
Since there is no definite place to get Russian books for beginners (except maybe the store молодая гвардия in the center of Moscow). I recommend you look for Russian books on the internet. Google is your best friend and Amazon can also be very helpful!
NOTE: If you don’t know a single Russian word yet, I discourage you from reading Russian books. The thing you need to do now is to get a grasp for the spoken language. Invest in a quality audio course and come back in 1 or 2 months. Oh, and this goes without saying. Learn the Russian alphabet before you pick up a Russian book!
If you’ve been following this site for longer, you probably know how I used Russianpod 101 as one of the main tools to get better at Russian. Not only are their audio podcasts the perfect format to listen to while commuting to work or taking a little walk, they also cover each aspect of learning a language. That’s why I consider it one of the top resources if you want to learn Russian for beginners.
They have an extensive level system that will put you on the path from total beginner to an advanced speaker. If you’re really serious about learning Russian – I think Russianpod 101 is single resource that will help you get to fluency fast. The only thing I can think of that would make you learn faster would be to actually live in Russia. Because that would offer you a complete immersion in the Russian language and culture.
And now that I think of it – that is actually exactly what Russianpod 101 does. With their audio lessons (which are about 10-15 minutes each, and they have a couple hundred of them!) you’ll get a complete immersion in teh Russian language and culture… without actually going to Russia!
What you’ll get with Russianpod 101:
- Over 75 hours of total audio lesson time
- List of 2000 most common word in Russian ( plus pronunciation and example phrases )
- A tool to help you perfect your pronunciation
- A guide that will teach you the Russian alphabet
- List of Russian key-phrases
- Russian dictionary
- Verb conjugation sheets
- Easy to follow tutorials on Russian grammar
- Grammar database ( detailed write-ups covering over 100 grammar points )
- And more…
And all this for less than the price of one single Russian class you would take at home!
Where can you get access to Russianpod 101?
I’ve actually wrote an entire 3000+ words review on why Russianpod 101 is the best place to learn Russian for beginners (click here to read it). There you’ll find all the information you ever need about the program!
alternatively, if you’re already convinced of the benefits of the program – you can go to their website by clicking on this link. In addition to releasing new language lessons every week, they also give you a 7 free 7 day trial, so you can check for yourself if you enjoy the program or not. So you have nothing to lose by checking out their program!
P.S. If you want to improve your Russian on 'autopilot', my best recommendation is to just listen to 1 single Russianpod101 podcast per day (about 15 minutes). Ideally you do this when commuting to work to create a lasting habit. You can also take a daily walk. I did this for about 6 months, and it's the reason my Russian improved so quickly. There's a free 7 day trial with just an email address, so you're not risking anything. Give it a try and see how fast your Russian skills improve.