The internet is full of language courses that claim to teach you five languages by next Tuesday. But how can you tell which ones will give you the most bang for your buck?
Luckily for you, we take learning languages seriously around here, and learning Russian is no exception.
To make choosing the best Russian course as easy as pie, we’ve grouped them into four tiers so you know what’s worth your time (and your hard-earned money).
Fondly known as the best in the bunch, these courses will have you firing on all cylinders when it comes to learning Russian.
Price: 29 Euros a month
Red Kalinka is known as the ‘Largest Russian School in the World’ and produces lots of different products that will help you learn Russian. Their online Russian course is high-quality, in-depth, and suitable for everyone from absolute beginners to upper intermediates. There is a tremendous amount of content designed to help students read, write and understand Russian. It’s easily the most comprehensive course we’ve tried.
After completing the course, you’ll know over 3000 words, be able to communicate in most situations and can enjoy watching Russian TV. Even better? You’ll have email access to a personal tutor who can answer any questions you may have about the material. Nothing in life is perfect, but when it comes to teaching Russian, Red Kalinka comes pretty damn close.
- Lessons build upon each other really well
- Most comprehensive Russian course
- Encourages you to read, write and listen to Russian
- Email access to a personal tutor
- Lessons are in the same format and can become boring
Price: $15- $19.95 per month
As one of the biggest names in language learning, Pimsleur is designed to help absolute beginners start speaking Russian right away. Their well-structured language plans and conversational lessons prompt students to speak Russian from the get-go and eventually become competent speakers.
Since the emphasis is on the oral language, there is less focus on grammar and the written language. Because of this, those who study with Pimsleur will end up speaking Russian more quickly than with other courses. However, they’ll need to use other resources to supplement their reading, writing, and grammar.
- Great course for beginners
- Each lesson builds upon each other exceptionally well
- Strong focus on the oral language means you’ll be speaking quicker than with other courses
- Subscription is affordably priced
- Beautifully designed app with interesting images & cultural notes
- Lessons tend to be a bit dry
- Less focus on the written language and grammar
- The practice activities included aren’t as comprehensive
Price: $8.99 a month or $41.99 for a year
Although there are plenty of language apps floating around on the App store, none are as effective as Lingodeer. This app is a great introduction to Russian for beginners as it makes it super easy for anyone to learn the basics. It even includes plenty of grammar explanations and opportunities to review what you’ve studied. What we like best is how it uses a variety of exercises to ensure that students have a well-rounded education.
While Lingodeer is a great starting point for any beginner wanting to learn Russian, those wanting to become fluent may have to look elsewhere as it lacks the conversational aspect that other courses have.
- A variety of exercises helps keeps things interesting
- Well designed and easy to use app
- Insufficient for developing conversational skills
- Unlikely to take you past the intermediate level
Price: $8-$47 a month
RussianPod101 has an incredibly vast catalog of resources that provide students with an in-depth look at Russian vocabulary, grammar, and the cultural context in which words are used. It has lessons for every imaginable situation and you’re bound to learn important words and phrases for every scenario. Students from beginners all the way to advanced will benefit from the wide range of lessons.
However, the website can be very confusing to navigate and lessons don’t always progress in the most logical manner. While RussianPod101 is fantastic for improving listening comprehension, I’d recommend using it alongside a better-structured course and to work with a tutor for conversation practice.
- Good value for money
- Provides lessons and vocabulary for every imaginable situation
- More Russian is used as you progress through the course
- Platform is confusing to navigate
- Lack of speaking and writing practice
- Too much English is used in the lessons
Price: Free or $8.99 a month
Memrise is a free language learning tool that uses mnemonics to help students memorize Russian vocabulary. It’s a great tool for beginners as it gives them a better foundation for the language and helps them retain the words they’ve learned.
However, memorizing is only a small part of language learning and students will have to find more comprehensive resources for learning how to speak, read, and write. Although Memrise also offers courses on food, grammar and slang, most of them are user-created and vary in quality and substance. For best practice, we recommend that students use Memrise primarily as a tool for review.
- Great for beginners
- Helps with memory retention
- Great tool for learning vocab
- Not sufficient on its own to become fluent in Russian
- Quality of the user-created courses may vary
Learn Russian RT is definitely one of the older resources, however, it provides a ton of free content and useful explanations on when to use certain phrases and the appropriate cultural context. Although the lessons are very text-based, the use of illustrations and audio clips helps make the content more engaging. It even includes exercises within the text such as ‘drag and drop’ or ‘fill in the blank,’ so students are encouraged to be active learners.
While the website is quite old and the lessons could be more comprehensive, this resource is a great introduction to beginners Russian for those who aren’t ready to invest in a paid course.
- Free resource for beginners
- Use of exercises, audio clips and illustrations makes the material more engaging
- Great explanations on cultural context and when to use certain words
- Won’t help students become fluent
- Lessons could be more comprehensive
Russian for Free is a language course that aims to help beginners learn the language. It was created by the same people who produced our top-rated course, Red Kalinka, so you know the content will be high quality.
The site has a good layout that is easy to navigate, and beginners are immediately presented with resources designed to get them started on their Russian speaking journey. The lessons also come with audio clips that encourage you to read, listen and repeat the words that are being said. This is a useful learning technique, however, it may become monotonous after a while.
Although this course is only targeted at beginners, it provides lots of materials to help students learn vocabulary, understand basic grammar points and review their skills. While the tests at the end could be more comprehensive and engaging, Russian For Free is definitely one of the better free resources out there.
- Great for beginners
- Audio clips encourage students to produce the language
- Website has a good layout, is easy to navigate, and has a modern feel
- Only suitable as an introduction to Russian
- Review tests could be more comprehensive
The Real Russian Club is taught by a native Russian teacher who conducts lessons on a free YouTube channel. Each video ranges from 30 minutes to an hour long, and covers content such as the Russian alphabet, grammar points such as conjugations, and Russian sentence structure. The teacher is quite clear, articulate and engaging to listen to, and even makes use of a whiteboard to help illustrate her concepts.
However, contrary to what the name suggests, these videos are unlikely to take students to fluency. Instead, it’s a great introduction to Russian and a free way for potential students to gauge whether or not they’re keen to learn the language.
- Great for beginners and potential students
- Teacher is clear, articulate and engaging to listen to
- Won’t take students to fluency
Although these courses don’t have as many gold stars as the top tier, you’ll still find some quality gems here.
Price: Free, with the option to remove ads and download offline lessons for $9.99 a month.
Duolingo is a well-known language course that offers gamified lessons to help students learn Russian. Students engage with the content by completing lots of exercises. Duolingo really excels by getting students to study a little bit each day through their use of rewards, study streaks, and more.
Their Russian course actually seems to be better than their courses for many other languages. However, explanations for how the language works tend to be lacking, and they skip over teaching the Russian alphabet. It’s a solid resource to practice Russian with but it’d be smart to use other resources alongside Duolingo to make up for some of their weaknesses.
- The gamification helps keep students motivated and coming back each day
- Good for practicing the basics in Russian
- Lacks emphasis on grammar
- Russian alphabet isn’t taught very well
Grammar Hero is the brainchild of Olly Richards, the creator of ‘I Will Teach You a Language.’ As the name suggests, the focus is on helping students internalize challenging grammar points and he uses a story-based method to really drive the points home.
Students begin by reading the story, learn the grammar rules, and then re-reading the story to understand why certain grammar points were used. Finally, Olly encourages students to actively produce the language by incorporating exercises such as writing practice, translation and fixing mistakes.
Although Grammar Hero is on the more expensive end and is only suitable for Intermediate students, it’s a very fun and engaging resource. Students wanting to improve their grammar will definitely get a lot of value out of this.
- Story-based method makes learning fun and engaging
- Focuses on challenging grammar points
- Only suitable for Intermediate students
Price: $12.95 a month or $6.95 a month if you purchase a full year
Babbel is yet another affordable language learning tool that is useful for beginners and lower intermediate students. It provides a solid foundation for learning the basics as the lessons are easy to go through and the website offers plenty of grammar explanations. By providing a Review Manager, Babbel also helps students assimilate what they’ve learned by giving them the opportunity to review and practice the words from previous lessons.
While the material is fairly engaging and provides a good starting point, advanced learners are unlikely to get much out of it. It also lacks conversational practice, so students wanting to practice their dialog may have to look elsewhere. Overall, it’s an affordable and comprehensive tool for beginners.
- Affordable and comprehensive tool
- Good starting point for beginners
- Lessons build upon each other really well
- Not a unique learning structure as it’s similar to many other apps
- Won’t sufficiently develop your conversational skills
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) develops a variety of language courses, including Russian. The Russian course includes access to a full Russian textbook, worksheets and corresponding audio clips that familiarize you with Russian pronunciation.
The lessons are free and quite comprehensive, however, it isn’t very engaging as other courses and can be difficult to get through yourself. The course is quite old, in fact, it was created before computers were commonly used, but the content is still solid.
- Covers a lot of material via audio clips and the attached PDF
- Can be difficult to get through by yourself
- Very dense and outdated
Price: Limited free version and subscriptions starting at $19.99 per month
Flashcards may be one of the most basic ways to learn a new language, but Lingvist isn’t your typical flashcard app. The platform is designed incredibly well and personalizes your questions by judging your fluency level and adjusting the difficulty of your questions.
Unlike other flashcard apps, Lingvist helps you learn new words in context and even provides information on how to use the word. It even provides challenges to help you improve your listening and speaking skills. However, those really wanting to work on their pronunciation may have to resort to other resources.
Overall, Lingvist is an impressive resource that will help students learn and remember new vocabulary. Although some students may find it mundane after a while, the use of external motivators can help students stay on track.
- Flashcard system ensures revision
- Well designed platform
- Adjusts to students’ difficulty level
- Exercises lack variety
- Only suitable for beginner and intermediate students
Russianlessons.net is an online language course that provides free Russian lessons via audio and video content. It mostly targets beginners and aims to teach the alphabet, basic phrases, and basic grammar. The majority of the lessons are text-based, however, it is often accompanied with audio clips so students can hear native speakers reading the words or sentences.
The website is quite old and is missing some of the more important complex grammar that more advanced students may need. The fact that it’s mostly text-based may also put off students who are easily demotivated. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a solid, free resource that beginners can use for further explanations or to complement another course.
- Lessons come with audio clips and videos so students can hear native speakers speak Russian
- Missing some important grammar
- Lessons are mostly text-based and can be hard to learn from independently
Udemy is a platform containing user-created courses on a variety of skills, including languages. There are currently over 60 different courses available for Russian that cover everything from the basics to Russian culture.
The large variety of lessons at relatively cheap prices means that students aren’t limited to one teaching style. Some courses are even taught via singing and graphics. Rest assured, you can read other students’ reviews so you can see what the structure of the lessons is like before purchasing a course.
However, since the courses are user-created, the content and quality can vary significantly between each one. The prices for different courses are all different, however, Udemy has tons of sales. If you add a course to your cart and wait a day or two, you’ll almost certainly be given a coupon code.
- Courses are relatively cheap
- Large variety of courses focusing on different things such as culture, language, and even cooking
- Courses are user-created so quality and content will differ
These courses could do with an upgrade, but some could be the perfect supplementary tool to a better course.
Price: $30 a month
Glossika is a course aimed at intermediate students as it uses an intuitive approach to help students improve their Russian. By listening to native speakers and repeating what they’ve said, students should be able to pick up the grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and language structure, naturally.
While there is value in this type of learning, Glossika’s functions are still limited. The lack of explanations on grammar and lack of cultural context means that Glossika is only best used as a supplementary resource. However, since a subscription offers students access to a wide range of languages, it can be a great tool for those wanting to study multiple languages or practice speaking Russian.
- Improves speaking and listening skills through repetition
- Available in lots of languages
- Not suitable for beginners
- Expensive for what is offered
- The sentences are the same for every language
Price: $19.99 a month
Mango Languages offers a variety of lessons that are designed to help you start speaking Russian quickly. They offer a huge range of languages, even including Pirate and Shakespearean English.
Although Mango Languages has several unique features that help you speak confidently and encourage you to actively practice what you’ve learned, there are other better and cheaper resources out there. Unless you can get free access from your library or elsewhere, we’d recommend using other courses instead.
Check out our full review here.
- Easy to use
- Cultural and grammar notes help you better understand the language
- Subscription gives you access to over 70 languages
- Not enough grammar practice
- Not suitable for advanced learners
Price: $197 for lifetime access
The Mimic Method isn’t your average language course. Instead, it was created to teach you the elemental sounds of Russian and ultimately help you produce and pronounce these sounds. The idea is to resort to your childlike tendencies and mimic what you see and hear. As such, you don’t really learn any Russian words, but just the sounds.
This course is likely to appeal to those who want to practice their pronunciation and are interested in training their hearing. However, since it doesn’t actually teach any grammar, vocab or reading skills, those wanting to fully learn Russian will need to look elsewhere.
- Strong focus on pronunciation
- Trains your listening skills and your pronunciation
- Doesn’t actually teach you vocabulary, reading or writing
- The course can be very technical and this may put some students off
- Don’t get a lot of material for the price it costs
Price: $29 a month
Lingualift offers courses that are very text-based and it feels like you’re working through a textbook. Designed by experts from Harvard, Oxford and Standord, this course aims to teach you how to read, write and speak Russian using entertaining and informative lessons. In fact, Lingualift really excels at helping students learn how to read.
However, very little effort is placed on teaching students how to speak or understand conversations in Russian. Although the material can be fun and quirky, the slow pace and heavy use of English means that it may take a while for students to make any progress. Ultimately, Lingualift is more like a glorified online textbook than a course. Serious students would, therefore, have to invest in a more comprehensive course in order to reach fluency.
- Excels at teaching students how to read
- Text is fun, humorous and concludes with a reward
- Great at teaching cultural context
- Not enough listening or speaking lessons
- More like a glorified textbook than an actual course
Price: $9.99 a month
Russian Plus provides free lessons for beginners to advanced learners. While most of the lessons are conducted via text in a blog post format, there are a few YouTube videos included within the lessons that help students with pronunciation. However, since it’s mostly text-based, some students may find it hard to understand the material or engage with it fully. Those who lose motivation easily are better off investing in a comprehensive course that includes audio, written exercises, and engaging videos.
- Good explanations
- Doesn’t cover enough content
- Material isn’t very engaging
Price: $9.99 a month
Although Mondly boasts about offering 1000’s of lessons and conversations, the quality of their language courses is below average and unsuitable for those wanting to properly learn a language. While Mondly includes quizzes and challenges, the lessons are extremely limited and are basically just a bunch of phrases repeated over and over again.
While it does include features such as voice recognition technology and a chatbot to help students practice conversations, it’s unlikely to teach students anything beyond simple conversational skills.
- Includes features such as monthly challenges to encourage users to practice
- One of the only companies to try to make AR and VR products
- Content is the same for all levels and languages
- Not well structured
- Low quality compared to other alternatives
Russian Language 101 and 102 is a free YouTube channel dedicated to teaching Russian to beginners. The 101 series explains the alphabet and the concepts behind it and 102 is dedicated to beginners grammar. The lessons are conducted by Victor Huliganov, who uses a combination of serious learning and humor to help students engage with his lessons.
Each video typically ends with a joke or poem, and then a song sung by Victor himself! Overall, this is a free and amusing resource that can help expose to beginners to the basics. However, those wanting something more serious and comprehensive may have to look at our higher tiers.
- Solid content and material
- Host makes content engaging by adding jokes and singing
- Low production value
- Only teaches the basics
Although these courses may well-known, we believe you’ll find better, higher quality and cheaper courses above. If you still want a sneak peek at what didn’t make the cut, keep on scrolling.
Rocket Russian is a course aimed at beginners as it only has one level of Russian for students to work on. Their emphasis is on the use of the language in practice. Although I like how often students are prompted to speak Russian, the lessons simply aren’t that great.
Rocket Russian provides various lessons on writing, listening, and culture, but students are unlikely to learn how to put together sentences on their own. Moreover, the exercises basically amount to endless memorization and its repetitive nature means the lessons get really boring, really quickly. Those wanting a more holistic learning experience would have to use it alongside another resource, so we recommend giving this course a pass.
- Sleek design and easy to use
- Lots of opportunities to practice speaking Russian
- Exercises were repetitive and monotonous
- Words are often learned in isolation
Price: $79 for 3 months
Although Rosetta Stone appears to be a well thought out and well-designed resource, it does have significant limitations which can impact a student’s learning experience. Its heavy reliance on immersive learning means that students can hear Russian being spoken by native speakers and helps them improve their language skills.
However, its repetitive nature and lack of explanations mean that the lessons can quickly become monotonous. Students would definitely have to use other resources for a more in-depth education as no cultural context or conversation practice is included.
While Rosetta Stone has its positives, you’d be better off investing in a different course in one of our higher tiers.
- Lots of material covered
- Very easy to use and navigate
- Students would be able to improve their language skills
- Main units are very repetitive
- Heavy reliance on pictures without explanation or cultural context
- Too expensive
Price: $8.33/mo with a 3-month minimum
Although Busuu has been downloaded over 10 million times on the Google Play Store, we don’t believe it’s worth the hype. The courses are weirdly structured and teach less important topics first before more useful vocabulary. It also fails to explain the foundations of the language to beginners and there’s no emphasis or explanation for grammar.
The only real benefit of Busuu is the social part of the app as it provides students the opportunity to have their speech and writing corrected by a native speaker – which is free to use.
- Provides an opportunity to have your writing and speech corrected by native speakers for free
- Poorly planned lesson structure
- Disregards pronunciation and grammar
Price: $11.99 – $100
Michel Thomas is a famous linguist and a household name whose audio lessons feature two students learning from a renowned Russian professor. In theory, this structure allows you to hear the students’ answers and learn from their mistakes.
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t recommend the Michel Thomas Method. For the price it costs, the value you get is quite minimal and you only come away knowing very basic conversational skills. For beginners, it may provide a quick boost of some foundational phrases and grammar, however, those wanting to advance further will need something more comprehensive.
In our opinion, your best option is to steer clear from this course entirely.
- They offer one free lesson for you to try
- Not great value for money
- Monotonous lessons conducted mostly in English
Price: $24.95 per month or $149.95 per year
The Transparent Language course aims to help absolute beginners engage and interact with various languages such as Russian. However, the whole course amounts to an endless exercise in repetition and memorizing word lists. Although the exercises teach you to read, write and understand Russian, the grammar and structure of the language is almost entirely ignored. There are also no lessons targeting the foundation of Russian or an insight into the different cultural contexts.
However, those wanting to learn the basics of unique languages such as Tajiki, Dari or Denesuline, may find some value in this course as it exposes students to different words and phrases. But for a rich language like Russian, we recommend you choose a course from our higher tiers.
- Offers a large range of languages
- Can potentially learn the basics of reading and writing
- Grammar and structure of the language are ignored
- Ignores cultural context
- Very repetitive and ineffective
Price: $1 trial for three weeks and $388 for the whole course
Russian Accelerator was created in 2010 to help beginners and intermediates reach a conversational level in Russian using contextual learning and power phrases. Each lesson is based on a short conversation in Russian and students are taught new vocabulary and grammar points.
Unfortunately, the lessons are incredibly repetitive, aren’t engaging, and not that useful. Although the aim of the course is to get students to a conversational level, there was a lack of opportunity to practice speaking. It also felt like nothing on the website had changed since 2010 as it looked and felt very dated, messy, and low quality. Overall, this is a course best avoided.
- Contextual learning and power phrases can help memorization
- Old and dated material
- Low-quality content
As you can see, there are tons of online Russian courses to choose from. Have you tried any Russian courses? How did you like them?