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Additional *free* resources

I thought I'd start a topic with additional free resources for learning Russian. There have been a few posts with one or two suggestions each already, but they got pushed down by all the other questions and the titles of the posts weren't always obvious to find them again. Maybe we can collect all the good free stuff (websites, movies, series, language learning tools, etc.) we find here and pin the post?


A while back I found this really good video Russian course on youtube from the 90s meant for high school students called Russian World. It first explains the alphabet in both its printed and cursive form, and then goes on with all the basics, gender, conjugations, cases and so on. Since it was meant for high school students it goes really slowly, and the explanations are really good and detailed too. So if Duo goes over the basics a bit too fast for you, then this should be a helpful additional resource for you. After all, with a new alphabet, 3 genders, 6 cases and a massive amount of confusing grammar, learning Russian can seem a bit like a rollercoaster ride sometimes, especially if you've never dealt with cases before!


The video course is based on a textbook that was popular in the 80s and 90s called Russian for Everybody. The book has been out of print for a long while, but there is a pdf of it in the comments section of the course here: https://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=52bRYf198XY

The grammar explanations in the book are very good and understandable too, but of course the book is full of typical language learning sentences and the exercises in it are a bit boring. However, you can just watch the videos, read the explanations and then skip the exercises and practice with Duo instead! I'm not sure whether the whole book is covered by the video course, but the book was meant to be covered either in 3-4 years of high school courses or 1 year at university. There definitely are 3 years of the high school course online. The whole first year of the video course and I believe the first 8 units in the book + a bit more are covered in the first 2 checkpoints of this wonderful Duolingo course. By the way, apparently the university students typically found it very difficult to manage all the grammar in the book in one year, so keep that in mind if you're trying to finish the Duolingo tree in 3 months as a complete beginner or something like that. Russian is a tough language, take your time!

Also, if you're struggling to remember some of the words or their gender for the exceptions, then I can also highly recommend Anki (http://ankisrs.net/). It's a free spaced repetition flashcard program that makes memorisation a little more easy. I stick all the new words into it together with a picture and a pronunciation from - again free - http:/www.forvo.com. For all nouns I also put an image mnemonic (http://www.learningassistance.com/2006/january/mnemonics.html) for the gender on the back of the card so that I don't have to think about endings to determine the gender. A good guide on how to get started with Anki and some rather useful flashcard templates can be found here: https://fluent-forever.com/chapter2/#.VknCKa6rRE4

More Advanced:

Also, something really cool I found just a couple days ago: Learning with Texts (http://lwt.sourceforge.net/). It's an open source program running in the internet browser with which you can read foreign language texts with immediate access to a dictionary in the same window. You can then mark all the words that you didn't know and then export them into Anki to learn them. It's not super easy to set up on your own machine, but there is an online version maintained by Benny Lewis (http://www.fluentin3months.com/learning-with-texts/). However, that version is sometimes unavailable or becomes very slow, so here's a tutorial for setting it up on your own computer: http://www.mezzoguild.com/how-to-install-learning-with-texts-lwt/ here is a good tutorial about how to configure Anki for importing LWT files: http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/2012/12/using-learning-with-texts-with-anki-2.html This is a bit fiddly, but once you've set the templates up you click export in LWT and then import it with another click in Anki.

And if you feel like checking whether your learning is paying off with movies rather than text, you can also find a ton of Russian movies online with or without English subtitles or Russian transcripts. Here is a little list of nice movies to watch with english subtitles and links to the russian transcripts: http://livediversified.com/watch-russian-films-in-a-learning-mode/ I can highly recommend the first movie, Ирония судьбы. The vocabulary is fairly basic, a lot of the main phrases are repeated often and it's a really funny movie too.

Then there is also lang-8 (http://lang-8.com/) where you can have native speakers correct stuff you write in Russian. This can be freely written text, but I have also used it to have the exercises from the Russian for Everybody book corrected and always got several very helpful corrections in a very short time.

To practice speaking there are a few different sites, where you can find paid professional teachers or language tutors as well as language exchange partners. Language partners are people willing to practice with you for free if you help them with learning your own language. In my experience the best site for finding language partners is italki (http://www.italki.com).

Of course there is tons more, but this is most of the stuff I use right now. How about you? Add your recommendations for free stuff to this topic.

PS: By the way, I'm really impressed with the Duolingo course and it's helping me a lot. Thanks guys for all your hard work!

November 16, 2015



russianlessons.net and mylanguages.org have both been very helpful to me. Also, Wikipedia pages are often very helpful with grammar, sometimes pronunciation, and alphabet.


Cool. I actually use wiktionary for grammar tables. Pretty much everything comes with a declension or conjugation table and when I memorise a new word I check there for exceptions.


The exceptions are the worst part. I don't know who invented them, but whoever came up with "There is an exception to every rule" was very, very right.


I agree. I've been wondering whether there was a rule to the pattern of exceptions for verbs like in Spanish. Basically even the exceptions have rules sometimes and then those rules have exceptions again ... yikes ;)


The exceptions to the exception to the exceptions to...

You get the idea. :)


Thanks for starting this! I'm actually working on a list of free, kinda-immersion resources for upper beginners. So far the only thing we have that overlaps is the LwT sites. I'll link my list when I post it.

In addition to Anki, 2 other SRS tools I like are www.memrise.com and https://cerego.com/

I'm using the lessons from learnrussian.rt.com/ to study along with Duolingo and I might add the Princeton Russian course to the mix. The PRC is graciously offered by the professor of the course for free; you can see a preview of the course here (http://myrussianteacher.org/) and if you like it there are several places you can download it from- just remember the follow the instructions for emailing the professor

And for super beginners I really liked russianmadeeasy.com

Also, I know of memrise courses for all of the courses I mentioned here; so if anyone is interested just let me know


The Princeton course is very good, but slightly controversial (he uses custom verb and noun stems that, although not in the standard dictionaries, allows one to predict any verb conjugation, noun declination etc. If you decide to try it, I uploaded some exercise answers here https://sites.google.com/site/princetonrussiananswers/system/app/pages/subPages?path=/home/sla101a I do, however, really like the distinction he makes between soft and hard vowels and consonants, how they combine etc., and how this can be used to make easy(-ier) to remember declination tables http://likespinninplates.tumblr.com/post/102608441394/compact-russian-noun-and-adjective-declination


Actually the non standard stem wasn't their idea and neither is the soft and hard vowel distinction. This comes from the old Russian textbook I mentioned above, Russian for Everybody. This was for a long time the standard Russian textbook in the US so a lot of people learned it like that. I personally don't like the non standard stem thing, I find it adds another thing to memorise, but the hard soft distinction and how it affects the endings is pretty useful.


Single stem is, AFAIK, the standard practice these days for Russian (but I could be wrong). Although the double-stem method is potentially useful, it really locks you into one way of learning. And a lot of double-stem verbs are verbs that are used a lot and thus can be memorized. BTW I didn't attribute the soft/hard discovery to them, I simply meant the practice of using, for instance, {U} to imply the akkusitiv feminine noun ending, where ю is used when combining with a soft vowel (я), and у for hard (а). I haven't see this explicit method in other textbooks, and i personally found it a lot easier to learn.


That's precisely why I don't really use that double stem thing either. It's only taught like this in a few resources so it kinda makes things difficult if one likes to switch around a lot. With the endings I've seen it explained like this in many places, but it's usually taught as a part of the spelling rules somehow. I guess a lot of folks will brush over those rules, because of spell checkers! However, to learn the spelling rules in Russian means that you have to learn less endings.


The RT course looks really good too. There are actually tons of nice courses out there for different tastes and learning speeds, and I find that doing two at once is the best strategy not to get bored. It's important to find at least one that fits your learning speed though. I tried a book in German which was absolutely nuts because it introduced 2 or 3 grammatical concepts at once and always confused matters by talking about German cases too. It also introduced synonyms and antonyms of different words all at the same time together with words that sound the same on top of things. Something like близко, недалеко, далеко and рядом, and then throwing in прямо on the same page. Infuriating! I gave up on that one after struggling through about 5 chapters of it. With Anki or memrise it's easy to convince your brain to remember things, but not if the information interferes with each other.


Thanks guys. Also, euronews is good (on YouTube) because you can subscribe to the channels in different languages they seem to always have the same stories just translated. I have noticed differences in the translation of headlines, seeming to indicate a little autonomy being given to the various teams working there.

I would say that the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) DLI (Defense Language Institute) materials are a huge help. Since they are used to train diplomats and intelligence personnel, respectively, they are very good. Those and Peace Corps training courses can be found at LiveLingua.

For those in the United States, look into Interlibrary Loan ("I-L-L") to get almost any supplementary materials sent to your library. Get "Pronounce it Perfectly". The best database for finding what you want and where it is is WorldCat.

Good luck to everyone and I hope to be talking to all of you in Russian on here someday soon.












Great list! I would like to add one more recommendation for Russian movies - RussianFilmHub.com. You can find tons of Russian and Soviet movies there with English subtitles. I also really like the "livediversified" link you shared.


Thank you for all these suggestions, just brilliant


Free Mid/Upper-Beginner Russian 'Immersion' Resources https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11734425

Also I remembered http://www.linguee.com/ / http://www.linguee.ru/ I really like this for learning the context of Spanish phrases but I haven't used it for Russian yet. Depending on how it searches words, it could be really useful for learning noun declension in context too.


Thanks for the list, some great stuff! My level isn't high enough yet to use them, but I will keep them bookmarked for later on! I use linguee for Spanish too, but mostly to make sure that I catch the precise meaning of a word in different contexts. For learning noun declensions I tend to use contextual sentences in Anki coming from all sorts of sources, linguee can be one of them.


Ух ты!!! Спасибо! :)


Пожалуйста :)


RT Russian course (http://learnrussian.rt.com/) is really good, just don't entertain their blatant propaganda as actual news.

If you speak German, then http://dict.leo.org/ should be your dictionary of choice. Features all verb conjugations and noun declinations (for German and Russian).

For listening to Russian music and watching Russian films, I suggest Вконтакте http://vk.com if you want films with English subtitles, there are some here http://top-russian.com/ In Germany atleast many libraries have Russian DVDs.


Yes, that RT Russian course looks very good indeed. As for the propaganda: Blatant and obvious propaganda is much less dangerous than the subtle manipulation that goes on in the regular news channels. Those pretend to be independent and still push some political agenda without revealing clearly what it is. There are no objective news. With RT you at least know that the beast is pro Russian.


I'm afraid I cannot agree, blatant is more effective and therefore more dangerous. Just consider the general public opinion of Russia in the US, and the US in Russia, and how this has changed over the last two years due to, in part, the efforts of CNN and RT. But this isn't the place for a political discussion, it is a place to find great resources for learning Russian :)


It was not meant as a discussion on politics. I just had to object to your propaganda warning with RT because pretty much all major media outlets are manipulating public opinion and one has to not just be careful with RT, but with all media outlets. Singling out RT or CNN is counterproductive, because it makes people feel more "safe" reading other news while they're still being manipulated.

And no, this is no place for a political discussion, but then mentioning RT's political agenda / journalistic value wasn't really my idea, was it? ;) To conclude: The RT Russian course looks definitely like a great resource!


Today I installed a new Anki frequency deck for Russian vocabulary. http://livediversified.com/most-common-russian-words/ The translations are just one word, and it doesn't have pictures, so it's just a comprehension deck, but it's a good basis for creating better two way picture cards out of them. I installed the 3000 word version and removed all the words I already knew, all the words that are better learned in context and all the verbs. Now I'm am left with about 1200 new words to study after already memorising about 800 before. After those I'll continue with sentences. This seems the best deck for the purpose: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1805849875 It actually has 50,000 sentences!

Also, I probably forgot to mention that there is a text to speech plugin for Anki! https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/301952613 It works perfectly and can provide audio for all those situations where forvo doesn't work, like with all these 50,000 sentences or any phrase longer than just one or two words. The best voice I've found so far was Yuri of the Mac OS X voices.

Speaking of sentences: Something new I've found is also this: http://ru.morpheem.com/ It tests your Russian vocabulary and teaches you new words by repeatedly exposing you to them. The estimate of the vocabulary isn't that accurate, but the sentences are natural and quite tough. Definitely harder than the typical language learner sentences like "The plate is on the table" or some such thing. Completely free.


that's so funny, I just discovered morpheem today too! Unfortunately when I was doing the test sentence 19 failed to load but I'll try it again soon


That's funny indeed. I used it for a while last night and this morning and I didn't have any issues. It seems to be still pretty new though, so there are bound to be some hiccups.


Here is another good list I found with more resources: https://www.reddit.com/r/russian/wiki/full_course

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.