Adding podcasts into your studying routine can be one of the best ways to improve your Russian. This is equally true for beginners, intermediate, and advanced level students, though the podcasts you choose to study with will vary depending on your level.
Fortunately, regardless of how good your Russian is, there are plenty of podcasts to help you along the way. This list will take a look at the most popular ones, starting at the beginner level.
Start your studies with one of these beginner podcasts. They’re suitable for new learners and typically have an English speaker to introduce the material and guide you along the way. Some of them will progress to intermediate and advanced lessons if you stick with them, while others are just designed to introduce you to the basics.
RussianPod101 is the most comprehensive resource for learning Russian as a beginner. While a subscription isn’t free, with a starting cost of only $8/month, it’s really affordable.
Subscribers have access to 1000’s of lessons, with the majority at the beginner level, but also some intermediate and advanced lessons as well. Typically, the hosts will listen to a dialogue, then take some time explaining important words, grammar, cultural information, and a lot more.
In addition to the lessons, you’ll also find line-by-line transcripts, grammar and lesson notes, flashcards, and a bunch of other tools for learners to engage with.
The lessons don’t follow a set and clear path, instead users will want to jump around a bit more. Because of that, it’d be recommended to guide your learning with a textbook and use RussianPod101 as a good supplementary resource.
The Slow Russian Language Podcast is a great way to learn the language while also exploring a variety of aspects of Russian history and culture. Host Daria Molchanova introduces you to Russian songs, sports, geography, and more, all at a slow enough pace for beginner and intermediate students to follow along.
Each episode also has a vocabulary section walking you through any unfamiliar words or hard-to-understand terminology. You can listen to the podcast for free or download the MP3 files and PDF transcripts for $20 from the website.
A Spoonful of Russian is a great podcast for anyone who wants to learn Russian in small portions. Natalia is a native speaker and a linguist who walks you through the basics, from Russian greetings to learning how to pronounce accented vowels. She occasionally shares Russian poetry and other cultural content.
The podcast is no longer being updated, but there are around 30 lessons available on iTunes. You can also find video lessons on the website designed to help you learn to write in cursive, which is a great way to get practice with the Russian alphabet.
Learn Russian Step by Step is a free resource that offers a variety of audio lessons for new and intermediate speakers. You can access the lessons on the site or on podcast players like iTunes or Player FM. The podcast episodes are short and based on simple dialogues, such as meeting your Russian in-laws for the first time. While there are over 140 lessons, it seems like there haven’t been any new ones added in several years.
Russian Made Easy is a series of 30 audio lessons that introduce you to the basics of the Russian language. Host Mark uses modern techniques such as pattern recognition and contextual learning to get you up to speed quickly and easily. You can follow along with the lessons with complete PDF transcripts, and you’ll also be prompted to repeat phrases aloud to get practice pronouncing the language. This is a great podcast series for new learners who are still getting familiar with the Russian alphabet.
The Survival Phrases podcast is produced by RussianPod101 and is available on several podcast platforms. These intro lessons are helpful if you’re traveling to Russia and just want to know some basics, such as how to greet people, introduce yourself, or make conversation. You won’t learn as much as you would if you subscribe to the entire RussianPod101 course, but you’ll pick up a few beginner phrases that will help you get by as a tourist to Russia or Eastern Europe.
Everyday Russian Language has a variety of audio lessons on specific topics. This is a great option if you’ve already taken some lessons and want to focus in on weak spots or a particular topic of interest. For example, you can listen to the episode on the names of countries and languages pronounced in Russian. There are also episodes on “Survival Tips for Foreigners” if you want to learn some do’s and don’ts when visiting people in Russia. Each episode has a transcript and translation to help you follow along.
One Minute Russian is a series produced by the Coffee Break Academy team. There are only 10 lessons, but they cover need-to-know topics, such as counting from 1-10 in and basic greetings in Russian. They aren’t designed to get you fluent in Russian but will teach you the basics without requiring a large time commitment. Cost: $12 USD.
The Speaking Russian podcast is a long-running series with episodes that are ideally suited for beginner or intermediate level students. You’ll learn about different dialects and pronunciations, along with need-to-know vocabulary like numbers, days of the week, and more.
You can find the episodes on the website or wherever you listen to podcasts. There’s also a spin-off podcast in which host Elvira Ivanova reads Anna Karenina in Russian, and then summarizes it and explains any unfamiliar expressions in English.
Once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll want to move on to more challenging podcasts to improve your listening comprehension. Some podcasts increase in difficulty as you go along, while others are just for beginners and wrap up after the introductory lessons. If you’re ready to move on to the next level, these intermediate podcasts will help you improve your skills, while still being suitable for mid-level learners.
This podcast is created for lower intermediate and higher level students. The creator, Max, aims to give learners a way to listen to interesting content that they can understand. He does this by having clear enunciation, speaking a little slower, and by giving lots of examples and synonyms.
Transcripts are also available, though you’d need to subscribe to use them. The content is really interesting, with topics such as minimalism, traveling in Russia without money, and the dark side or Russian literature. There’s lots of other materials on the website as well, such as stories in Russian, videos, and more.
News in Slow Russian is a great option if you want to immerse yourself in the Russian language, but at a pace that’s still easy to follow along with. The episodes come in three different levels, so you can try them out no matter how far along you are in your studies. They’re also categorized by topic, so you can focus on stories about people, animals, nature, science, technology, and so on. There are transcripts and translations available too, but you’ll have to subscribe to get access to all of the material.
Ochen po russki is intended to teach Russian as it’s actually spoken – with slang, jokes, idiomatic expressions, and more. You’ll learn about food and drink, politics, and phrases that you won’t find in standard textbooks.
Each episode includes a transcript and translation, available for free on the site, or you can donate via PayPal to download the audio files and accompanying materials. They also have a 3-volume collection of “crude and rude language” called Naughty Russian that you can download for a €20 donation.
A Beginner Course of Spoken Russian is a podcast series made by LingQ, a language learning platform with a variety of course material. Although there are only 14 episodes, they serve as a good intermediate step since they’re spoken entirely in Russian.
You’ll hear a dialogue spoken by two different speakers, as well as a “mini-story” that includes several listening comprehension questions. The hosts recommend you speak the answer aloud in order to practice your pronunciation.
The Business Russian Podcast is produced by UCLA and is intended for students who plan to work in a Russian-language business or industry. These podcasts are primarily in Russian and will be too advanced for beginner learners, but they do come with PDF transcripts to help you follow along. You’ll learn about cultural differences in Russian businesses, as well as company structures, corporate finance, and taxes. You won’t need this podcast if you plan to visit Russia as a tourist, but it’s a must if you plan to conduct business meetings and want to communicate with native speakers.
A Taste of Russian has over 350 podcasts episodes primarily in Russian that are ideal for intermediate learners. Instead of grammar lessons, you’ll learn Russian as it’s really spoken, with plenty of slang and casual discussion. You can download 36 episodes for free, or subscribe at TorPod.com for full access to the audio content and transcripts.
Russian Podcast is a great free resource with nearly 300 episodes available to listen to. You can download them directly on the site, along with PDF transcripts and word lists of unfamiliar vocabulary. Topics range from psychotherapy to conspiracy theories, so you’ll learn a bit about Russian culture and even hear a few songs along the way!
These advanced podcasts are delivered primarily in Russian and aren’t intended for students. But for those who are looking to move into native Russian materials, these are worth checking out.
In Russian Terms is an advanced podcast that deals primarily with socio-political and cultural issues. You’ll learn about Americans in Russia (and vice-versa), as well as topics related to the other post-Soviet states. Host Elena Bilbo explores Russian attitudes toward work, money, popular movie characters, and other interesting subjects.
Arzamas is a Russian-language podcast exploring history and culture and is available directly on the website or on iTunes. Each episode features a Russian expert reading a 15-25 minute lecture on a theme, ranging from theatre during the Renaissance to Greek and Roman sexuality. This wide-ranging podcast will prepare you to debate in Russian on matters of culture and philosophy.
Postnauka is a popular science podcast that explores a variety of topics, such as “What are satellites made of?” to 3D printing and self-healing materials. Some of the episodes include videos you can watch on the site, or you can download them on iTunes. This is a great podcast to learn scientific terminology in Russian.
This podcast is perfect for geography nerds. Produced by Radio Mayak, each episode looks at a different country and explores its history, current state of affairs, and relationship with Russia. You’ll get to brush up on your pronunciation of Russian place names, as well as learn about geopolitics from a Russian point of view. Listen directly on the website or find the episodes on iTunes.
I’m sure I must have missed some good podcasts while compiling this list, so please let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations.
Besides these podcasts, there are tons of other useful resources for studying Russian. This huge list has over 115 of them.