What Level is it Possible to Reach in Russian with Duolingo?

Privet! :D

Am an absolute beginner yet I would love to talk to my Russian friends in VK.COM in their language and take MOOCs in Russian by schools like Gubkin University:

Could I borrow your brain, please?

Q1: For the optimal learning for beginners, kindly advise what TO-DOs, NOT TO DOs, please (for example, what are the common pitfalls, beginners of Russian usually fall into)

Q2: Do know most courses in Duolingo are designed to let the learner reach A2 or weak B1. For Duolingo Russian course for English speakers, what would be the realistic aim?

Q3: In addition to Duolingo, what are the most recommended free resources for Russian learning lately? (ex. youtube channel, blog)

February 1, 2018


Welcome to the Russian club!! I'm Lauriana, приятно познакомиться)).

Q3: In addition to Duolingo, what are the most recommended free resources for Russian learning lately? (ex. youtube channel, blog)

Here are my best recommendations to get started:

For grammar, there are many great YouTube channels. Here are just a few (and you can see they are linked on YouTube to even more):

-Real Russian Club



-BeFluentInRussian (one of my favorites).

I suggest that you find lots of Russian music and lectures to play in the background. What type of music do you like the most? Of course this changes for mood, but there are a lot of good Russian songs out there!

For learning how "real Russians" talk, YouTube channels like StopADouchebag and ChebuRussiaTV have a lot of resources to learn this. NOTE: You may encounter some bad words, but this is inevitable. If that bothers you, I understand. In that case, go for stories read in slow Russian instead:).

Also, I suggest that you listen to political talks and interviews with celebrities from Russia (look up first the celebrities in Russia and then search their name with 'interview'. The possibilities are limitless. Vladimir Putin, obviously, has a lot of speeches and Q/A sessions that you can watch, this is a good resource as well.)

Lastly, I suggest that you watch Russian movies, and begin to make connections with the words and endings as well as conjugations. Memorize the top 25 verbs and the roots of adjectives, as you can derive much from knowing very little. And since you are a beginner, start with English subtitles and work your way up from there! Do not hesitate to ask hard questions here; there are lots of great Russian speakers who will help:).

Best of the best of luck to you:)!

February 1, 2018

Bolshoi spasiba! :D Also agree with your points. Exposure to audio and video contents seem to improve one's listening and speaking as well as the ability to spot conjugation, grammar patterns.

Find some reason, find Russian music quite romantic from time to time. Always thought of Russia as somewhat very masculine! :D

Even some foreign songs sang in Russian are nice such as:

P.S: Speaking of Russian films, can I assume average Russians most preferred genre is Sci-fi perhaps rather than war or espionage?

February 3, 2018

Any time! I think as a lot of the Russian women I know have said, they are very masculine but are also romantics as well, haha. The last commercial for the movie about "the first alien contact" looks as if it would be a great film! And I like BTS so that cover was my dream come true:))).

February 3, 2018

Q2: Do know most courses in Duolingo are designed to let the learner reach A2 or weak B1. For Duolingo Russian course for English speakers, what would be the realistic aim?

I didnt even finish the russian tree yet, and last semester ive joined a russian course at my university. I took an exam (written and spoken) and got ranked into a B1 course (we only have A1, A2 and a B1 course here). Only issue was that I lacked some of the course vocabulary because Duo taught some other words. Beside that, I could successfully participate in the B1 course after using Duo to reach that level. It may be an advantage or disadvantage; Im a native german, so I just used the english course because theres no german-russian on Duo.

February 1, 2018

Grammar-wise the course is designed fairly close to B1-level requirements. It is pretty much all Russian grammar without going into finer details.

The vocabularly, though, is limited and does not teach you the vocabulary typical of a B1 course all the way. Some words simply do not work all to well in English, which does make for a few frustrating point in the course (e.g., зато and заниматься). The B1 level also includes a fair share of prefixed verbs which are hard to teach in a Ru→En course—I mean the verbs like доходить, подходить, переходить, обучить, объявить, переносить, передавать, перевозить, уезжать, убирать, закричать.

Finally, the B1 requirements feature some niche vocabulary a theoretical 20-something student might use in Russia. These are words like аспирант, баскетбол, администратор, карточка, зачёт, общежитие, пьеса, колбаса, берёза, ёлка, диалог, устно. They are fairly useful in daily activities in Russia but sometimes too difficult to make a meaningful sentence with, or do not have a good English equivalent.

Aaaand we simply forgot or did not have time to find a suitable lesson for some of our words—like чёрт, зажигалка, джинсы, крестьянин, скорость. That's why we have the more colloquial блин but do not have чёрт.

  • an yet, come to think of it—why have зажигалка and omit зажигать/зажечь?
February 2, 2018
  • 1614

В теме получил вот такой "правильный ответ" с повторяющимся словом "Вы все уже должны спать спать". Извините, не нашел лучшего способа сообщить об этом.


February 2, 2018

For whatever it's worth, "скорость" is actually in the Science skill :)

February 5, 2018

Big thank you for this!. Duolingo Russian course focuses on setting the foundation (i.e. grammar) right as enlarging one's vocabulary in Russian can be done by various other means. :D

P.S: Just read some article on "ТРКИ(Тест по русскому языку как иностранному" and it says one has to learn about 1,300+ words to be adequately B1.

February 3, 2018

I wonder where you read it. The vocabulary is, in fact, over 2000 as you can see in this PDF on page 21.

1300 is more like A2.

February 3, 2018

Yes, you are right. ! My bad! Was reading some Korean Wikipedia-like site and it had somewhat incorrect info. from time to time. lol

February 7, 2018

omg! That is just wonderful! Guess the course design is really thoroughly done then for Duolingo Russian course for English speakers! That implies that Duolingo plus some additional work on enlarging one's Russian vocabulary using is a quite effective learning combination!

February 1, 2018

It's not free, but I think LingQ is more than worth the $10 a month. I think their material for Russian is some of the most comprehensive.

Lingvist is good for vocabulary flash cards but with context.

February 3, 2018


I guess I will leave a somewhat contrasting personal experience, for balance :)

I finished the Russian tree and joined a total-beginner Russian class while living abroad in Tbilisi, Georgia. I knew I was under-placing myself. But it only took a week or two of instruction for me to feel I was learning new things, and being challenged. Duolingo asks the student to draw inferences in order to teach - which is great - but I benefit from having things explained to me, too. Live instruction unlocked a lot of what Duolingo had already seeded in my brain. I still do 50 XP of the tree every day for review, plus some Lingvist thrown in, on top of classwork. This gives me a small step up over my class cohort but the gap is seriously narrowing.

My reading and writing level is significantly higher than my speaking/listening ability.

I've developed a bit of a Russian stutter as I try to sort out my case-endings in real time.

The biggest thing I'd recommend resource-wise is finding a speaking partner.

I'm definitely taking some tips from this thread, and this forum at large.

TLDR: I just finished my first semester, so officially A1 I guess, and as I start A2 I'm thinking how in the world would I have survived starting here, straight out the tree, let alone B1?

Best of luck!

February 5, 2018

Out of curiosity, did you mostly use the app or the website? Also, not that they cover everything, but how much attention did you pay to the Tips and Notes?

I think yours is more an indictment of Duolingo's up-to-now teaching method rather than the Russian course itself. The skill levels, I think, will change things greatly for the better. Case endings are the kind of thing I can hardly imagine mastering without a great deal of active use.

February 5, 2018

I use the app exclusively (Android). If there are tips and notes, I haven't noticed them, but I'd welcome them. I've stuck to mobile mostly because I find the keyboard switching much more convenient than on my laptop. Really looking forward to the skill levels.

I think Duolingo's a great companion for classroom learning. I still practice daily on the tree. It's helpful to do some targeted review on whatever we're learning in class (genetive plural, for example). Some vocabulary as well as grammar rules have been bashed into my brain thanks to the app - sometimes I just know what does and doesn't sound right, even if I don't know technically why, or what the phrase means.

Sorry for the late response!

February 12, 2018

Well, I tried my best while compiling the Tips (e.g., here). They are still relatively short, about 2000 characters each, on average. Duolingo's limit is about 4500–5000 but I find them long as they are. They start looking intimidating soon after reaching 1500 characters or so. And they are not all grammar: we have tips on usage, too.

It is like a book on Russian grammar 40 pages long—not comprehensive by any means.

February 12, 2018

I joined a University level two course hoping to get some speaking practice and am way ahead of them having done the duolingo Russian course. I am not finding it much use to be honest as speaking to beginners provides no useful feedback. I would love to monopolize the teachers time but that's not an option.

I love the duolingo Russian course because each time I go back to it I get more out of it. When I first finished it I couldn't understand spoken Russian at all outside the course. After lots of listening practice I have come back and am again using the course with deeper understanding and a real feeling for the endings. I can't recommend it highly enough! I also recommend the French from Russian course as it has lots of different vocabulary, I just wish I could hear it pronounced.

February 13, 2018

Hello there. I want to take an exam for A1 in Russian, and for A2 in later time. Which units/skills of Duolingo is similar to A1 level, and which for A2? Thank you

December 2, 2018
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