September 02, 2013

9 Ways to Brush up Your Russian

9 Ways to Brush up Your Russian

Has your college Russian gotten a bit rusty? Looking for some fun, useful, but most important effective ways to brush up on your Russian? The internet is here to help! 

Sure, in an ideal world, you would set up a weekly chat over кофе or чай with a local Russian. But that can be hard to pull off and even harder to maintain. So, barring that, here are a few online resources to help dust off your rusty Russian and/or pump a bit of new life into it.

  1. Ekho Moskvy. This great radio station offers the ability to listen to its programming online, with the all important bonus that most programs feature full transcripts. It's a great way to recharge your listening comprehension. Sure, you still need to look up the Russian, but it sure helps when you can read what you are hearing. Start by exploring their interview section.
  2. Dozhd television also offers transcripts for some of its talk programs.
  3. TV Tsentr, the television station overseen by the Moscow City Government, offers transcripts for their news videos.
  4. Political ads. No transcripts here, but the videos from political campaigns stretching back to the mid-1990s are a great test of your comprehension, plus a great way to walk down memory lane. 
  5. Audio Books. Listen to Собачье сердце while driving to work, or Dostoyevsky while you work out. These books are all free to download and listen on your MP3 player, in iTunes, etc. Pick up a copy of the print version of a work at an online bookstore ( or are two recommended sources) or find the text at Maxim Moshkov's and you can read along (not while driving, of course). Our link above is to the classics page, but book-tracker has all sorts of other books including detective novels, humor, science, foreign lit, etc.
  6. Podcasts. Podcast programs are great to listen to while driving, jogging, walking, sleeping, whatever. We have not found wonderful riches here, but there are a few worth exploring, depending on how advance you are: RussianPod 101 (not to be confused with RusPod), Master Rusian and Lingq, some of which we have written about before. Lingq's podcasts of Anna and Andrei's conversations are fun.
  7. YouTube Video language courses. We have yet to find anything stellar in the realm of free videos for intermediate and advanced users (most lessons seemed to be geared toward beginning users), but there is plenty that is decent and free . A few decent alternatives include Russian Plus, Fun Russian, and Alrus.
  8. Movies, movies, movies. Once your language reaches intermediate comprehension and conversation level, you need to dive in and start watching Russian movies. They are an amazing source of cultural knowledge and awareness. And the best thing is that many of the classics are now available free online. Russian Remote offers free access to films, documentaries, video clips and more. And MosFilm has begun putting much of its film archive up online for free viewing.
  9. Music. Finally, load up some Russian music into your iPod and start listening. Recommended: Vysotsky, Galich, Okudzhava and Grenbenshchikov, all of whom are now readily available on iTunes. Also recommended for language learners: Timur Shaov. Meanwhile, you can of course also stream many Russian radio stations live, and watch Russian music videos online. 


This is a far from comprehensive list, but hopefully a good place to start your linguistic brush-up. Of course, if you have any suggestions or corrections, please pass them along!

Special thanks are due to the ever-resourceful participants of the SEELANGS Slavic languages list for some of the ideas shared above. 

Photo credit: HNumus.

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