Russian language learners, rejoice — there are scores of great learning resources available to you. In fact, you’re more likely to be paralyzed by the number of good options out there than to struggle to find something that suits your needs.
It’s important to remember in your search that the most popular language resources aren’t always the best; a superb marketing strategy doesn’t necessarily equal outstanding quality.
In this post, we’ll focus on apps that aim to help learners with Russian. We’ve tried a ton of them, and have sorted them by category based on what they do best, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. It should, however, narrow the field enough to help you find some great tools.
Best Lesson Structure: Babbel
Best for Practicing Oral Communication: Pimsleur
Best Interactive Course: Lingodeer
Best for Fun, Engaging Practice: Memrise
Best for Customizable Practice: Anki
Best for Learning Words in Context: Lingvist
Best Free Way to Learn Words in Context: Clozemaster
Best Lessons in the Style of a Podcast: RussianPod101
Best for Side-by-Side Reading Practice: Beelinguapp
Best for Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling
Best for Feedback on Writing: italki
Best Q&A App: HiNative
Best for Learning Russian Cyrillic: Cyrillic (Russian Language)
Best for Finding a Tutor: italki
Russian Courses as Apps
Lots of language apps tend to focus on one or two aspects of language acquisition, be it vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, speaking, etc. It often means the app is tuned to provide particularly good practice in its area of expertise, but it also means the learner will need to rely on several apps to get well-rounded study time in.
The apps in this category are slightly different in that they offer a more thorough course, usually with a detailed curriculum. They can make good options for beginners looking to get a solid grasp on the basics without having to get several apps involved. Advanced learners may need to seek additional resources.
Babbel gives users the feeling that they’re getting the whole picture, which is great for learners at the beginner and intermediate levels. It uses thorough, interactive exercises to teach vocabulary, grammar, and how to have a conversation. The material starts at the beginning and builds logically from the alphabet to personal pronouns to basic phrases.
It isn’t the most exciting or flashy resource out there, but the variety of exercises keeps the experience engaging enough. The advanced learner might not find what they’re looking for here, but it’s a good place to get comfortable with the basics. Review.
This app puts an interesting spin on language teaching — it shirks the traditional method of teaching grammar points and explaining things as you go in favor of getting you to speak right away. In fact, there’s very little written instruction at all. This resource does a good job of building confidence speaking in Russian through constant practice. It should also get users used to the natural flow of spoken Russian quicker than other resources.
Another benefit of this approach is that it makes it difficult to have non-productive study time because the exercises require a high level of participation. Visual learners may find the method difficult, however, and it isn’t a good option for those interested in improving their reading and writing skills. Review.
What sets Lingodeer apart from the crowd is the balance it strikes between enjoyability and efficacy. It teaches Russian through game-like activities that don’t last more than a couple of minutes each. This makes it easy to pick up and practice whenever you like for as long as you like. It’s fun to use.
It’s hard to avoid comparing it to Duolingo — they both employ heavy gamification and short, fun exercises. Lingodeer doesn’t offer as much for free as Duolingo, but its material is of higher quality, especially for Russian. There are better grammar explanations, the audio is better, and the lessons build on each other more naturally. Review.
The courses listed below didn’t make our list of favorites for one reason or another, but they’re commonly recommended and each have their own advantages. They could be right for some learners of Russian and are still worth checking out.
A strong contender for the “most popular language app,” Duolingo is free and fun to use, but its Russian course isn’t its best. Review.
Busuu is a language app with an especially nice interface and pretty good curriculums, but it doesn’t do languages with non-Latin writing systems very well. Review.
This app comes from the popular Rocket Languages series. The Russian course only has material for beginners, relies on heavy repetition, and you probably won’t learn how to put together your own sentences. Review.
It’s famous for its immersive teaching approach, but Rosetta Stone becomes overwhelmingly boring after a while and offers nothing in the way of explanations. Review.
Lingualift is well-designed and offers good reading practice, but the textbook-like approach doesn’t do much to teach you how to speak or have conversations. It’s best for beginners, if anyone. Review.
Even with its speech-recognition technology, chatbot, quizzes, and challenges, Mondly lessons are limited and unlikely to get you beyond basic conversation skills. Review.
Offering online courses in just about everything under the sun, Udemy has a variety of options for Russian learners. Courses aren’t free, but they’re frequently offered at significant discounts.
This site connects learners with free online university courses. There are plenty in Russian, at a variety of levels, and many offer a paid certificate upon completion.
This app is fun for its deep-sea stylings and conveniently short practice exercises, but it doesn’t offer any kind of comprehensive practice. Review.
The Mango Languages app is an alright choice for learners at the beginner level but doesn’t offer much for higher levels. It’s got a nice interface and is easy to use, but it’s lacking in grammar and writing practice. Review.
Supremely popular, the Michel Thomas courses are also fairly monotonous, and the Russian course will really only help you with basic conversational skills. While it could provide a helpful boost to the beginner, there isn’t a lot of extended value here. Review.
This app offers courses in over 100 languages; the tradeoff is that none of them are very good. It could be worth it for picking up the basics in a rare language, but you won’t learn much Russian here. Review.
Memrise is one of the more frequently recommended apps for learning vocabulary. It’s got an insane amount of material, much of it free and user-created, which makes it a good option for learners of just about any language.
The official Memrise course for Russian is especially good. It’s got videos of native speakers and a variety of engaging practice activities. It uses SRS flashcards to make for super-effective study time, and the mobile app is especially nice to use. Review.
Lingvist stands out as a way to learn new vocabulary via SRS flashcards. It presents new words in the context of a sentence, meaning you’ll get used to interacting with the language as it’s actually used. This feels more natural and less sterile than simply learning direct word-to-word translations.
Most flashcards contain valuable extra information on the language item, there’s a Grammar Tips section that offers support with usage, and there are various language challenges to help you practice, all of which increase its value. It’s worth considering, however, that the Russian course has less material than the other courses it offers, despite having the same price. Review.
Clozemaster blends heavy gamification and SRS flashcards to help you memorize Russian words. As with Lingvist, you’ll encounter new vocabulary in the context of a sentence. This fill-in-the-gap method is good for getting used to seeing words as they’re really used.
The app’s aesthetic brings to mind an old-school arcade. There are levels, points, meters to fill and leaderboards to climb. Most of what Clozemaster offers is available for free, though it isn’t great for absolute beginners and doesn’t offer a lot of extra features. Review.
Its versatility is a major draw for many. You can create your own decks to study from, including images, audio, tags, and study preferences. There are also a bunch of pre-made Russian language decks for those that aren’t interested in creating their own.
ABBYY Lingvo and Linguee
The fact that these dictionary apps are available to download for offline use makes them especially useful to the Russian learner that actually needs to use the language in his or her daily life. ABBYY Lingvo is one of the more comprehensive Russian dictionaries available and has been a top choice among Russian learners for several years. It’s full of common phrases and idioms, and it enables you to see all conjugations for the verbs you look up.
Linguee is especially useful for performing translations of short phrases. It scans the internet for relevant translations and can help you decipher the meaning of a phrase that may be unclear from translating each word individually.
Below are some more popular apps for learning vocabulary. They could make good options for some, but they aren’t the best of the best.
Based on the bestselling book of the same name, this app uses spaced repetition and custom flashcards to help learners commit language to long-term memory. There aren’t any grammar explanations and some features are still in development. Review.
The Drops app is attractive, easy to use, and could make a decent supplementary way to learn some vocabulary. It isn’t great for beginners, it only teaches one verb form, and some of the images it uses are hard to tell apart. Review.
uTalk is easy to use and provides native speaker audio of key phrases and vocabulary. It’s best for someone preparing set-phrases for a trip, as it won’t teach you how to construct your own sentences. Review.
Offering study materials for a wide variety of subjects, Quizlet has both flashcards and multiple-choice quizzes for the Russian language learner. A lot of content is free, and it’s a good place for quick and easy quiz material.
This flashcard app has a bunch of pre-made Russian study materials with native speaker audio. You can also make your own decks for a more customizable experience.
This app provides stellar listening practice in Russian. It’s got an incredible number of video and podcast lessons covering just about every aspect of the Russian language. It’s got material at every level, for the beginner as well as the advanced learner, but those at the beginning and intermediate levels will probably get the most out of it.
While the podcast-style lessons mean you’ll get loads of good listening practice, the resource is actually fairly comprehensive — it covers Russian grammar, vocabulary, and valuable cultural information. You’ll have to look elsewhere for good speaking and writing practice, but this is one of the better apps available. Review.
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Reading in Russian is a great way to practice the language and develop your understanding, but it can be slow going, especially at first. Fortunately, there are some great apps that make the experience a little bit easier.
LingQ is a reading app that makes it easy to look up Russian words as you read. It keeps track of which words you look up and which words you don’t, allowing you to visualize your progress and get opportunities for focused review. Unfortunately, the review function is a bit chaotic, but it does make reading easier and gives the learner the option to upload their own content.
This reading app provides a unique experience by displaying Russian text alongside a translation in your native language. The ability to immediately reference a translation of the text you’re reading means you’ll never be totally confused and makes the learning process more natural. You also have the option to hide the translated version to be sure you aren’t relying on it too heavily.
The app also functions as an audiobook, highlighting text as it’s read aloud. This makes for great listening and pronunciation practice as well. It’s very reasonably priced and has a wide variety of reading material.
The apps listed here are alternatives that get recommended quite a lot or are pretty good but not quite our favorites. They’re still worth considering.
FluentU turns time spent binging Youtube videos into productive language study with interactive subtitles and a nifty picture dictionary feature. It does a pretty a good job at this, but unfortunately the price is somewhat high for what it offers. Review.
Audiobooks, whether they’re instructional or written in Russian, can make fantastic learning tools for improving listening and reading skills. Audible has a wide variety of Russian materials.
Flowlingo turns reading and video material into study material by providing translated captions and text, saving words you look up for later review.
Learning how to pronounce Russian words correctly can be one of the bigger hurdles learners have to face. Unfortunately, lots of apps fall short in their efforts to provide good pronunciation instruction and feedback. Speechling actually excels in this area.
Instead of relying on mediocre voice recognition technology, Speechling connects learners to actual humans. A free membership allows you to record and submit a limited number of recordings each month to be evaluated by a real Russian teacher. This kind of feedback is much more valuable than what you can get from a robot.
Lessons get you to mimic native speakers in order to sound as natural as possible. A paid membership lets you submit an unlimited number of recordings each month as well as a few extra features. Review.
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Along with pronunciation, it’s hard to get quality feedback on writing when learning a new language. It’s something that computers struggle to do well, and that makes it important to get humans involved. italki may be better known as an online tutor directory, but it’s also got some cool extra features. The Exercise function is one of them, and it’s a great place to get feedback on your Russian writing skills.
Posting a piece of writing (on any subject you like or as a response to a prompt) in the Exercise section makes it visible to other users who can offer corrections and feedback. It’s free to use this feature of italki. Instead, you can pay it forward by correcting some else’s writing in your native language. Review.
Language learners inevitably run into scenarios in which a dictionary or quick Google search isn’t going to answer the question they have. Sometimes, other humans are the best resource. HiNative is a Q&A app that connects language learners with native speakers. Simply post a question about Russian and wait for a proficient Russian speaker to provide you with an answer.
There are question templates to help streamline the process, and the community is fairly active, meaning you’re likely to get a quick response. It’s mostly free to use, but a paid membership includes some extra features, including the ability to post and listen to audio recordings. Review.
One of the first aspects of Russian you’ll have to tackle on your journey to fluency is its alphabet. This app by TenguLogi focuses on teaching the script through short lessons, quizzes, and flashcards. It also includes audio samples to aid in pronunciation and frequently takes on a humorous tone in instruction.
This app won’t do a whole lot more than get you comfortable with Cyrillic as it’s used in Russian, but it’s free and good at what it does.
Another option worth considering for feedback on writing is LangCorrect. It’s free to use and works very well. However, it doesn’t have a community that’s quite as large as the one on italki.
Both of these apps are solid options for finding language partners. They each make it easy to search for potential language partners and utilize built-in language tools to help facilitate easy communication. Differences are mainly aesthetic.
Tandem is the more professional-feeling of the two. It’s less cartoony and doesn’t let you make public posts like HelloTalk does. There are more emojis on HelloTalk and everything is a little bit more playful. Both apps have active communities that, for the most part, seem to be interested in productive language exchange.
The primary language tools these apps use are a translation tool (you’ll have to pay for unlimited translations) and a correction tool that users can use to give each other feedback. Tandem Review. HelloTalk Review.
Connecting with a Russian tutor is probably one of the best ways to make serious progress in the language, and italki is the best place to find one. It’s a massively popular online database of language tutors, making Russian language tutors available to anyone with an internet connection.
The number of teachers using italki is impressive. For Russian, the number is over 600. Such a variety of teachers is a very good thing for learners; it means competitive prices, flexible scheduling options, and tons of different teaching styles. There are also smart search filters that make it easy to find tutors that fit your ideal.
On top of all this, many learners use the italki community to find language exchange partners. Connecting with others is free and easy in the italki community. Review.
These are some more popular apps in the category, but they aren’t necessarily the best.
This is another language exchange app. It’s mostly free to use and has a large community, but many users aren’t serious about language learning. Review.
Verbling is a quality online directory of tutors. The platform has stricter requirements for its teachers than similar options, meaning higher prices and less flexibility. Review.
There are tons of language tutors available on Preply at all sorts of prices, but teachers aren’t paid for trial lessons and receive a smaller commission than alternative platforms. Review.
This app does a lot to market itself, but it doesn’t quite deliver. Expect high cost and low flexibility with tutors. Review.
It’s clear, the numbers are on your side when it comes to Russian language apps. And again, this list certainly doesn’t cover all of your options.
Apps are great tools for language learning because they’re convenient and often pretty engaging, but they’re also usually best used as supplementary resources. It’s wise to consider using them in conjunction with other types of resources if you’re serious about learning Russian.
Take some time to find the best study tools for you, you’ve got options!