Russian is an East Slavic language, along with Ukrainian and Belarusian. Because it uses the Cyrillic script rather than the Latin alphabet, Russian can be a challenge for native English speakers to learn. Some letters look very similar to Latin letters, even though they are pronounced differently, and vice-versa.
One way to make the most of your Russian language lessons — and learn the alphabet, pronunciation, and grammar all in one place — is to watch language-learning videos on YouTube. These videos will walk you through all aspects of the language, from lessons with professional instructors to interviews with everyday Russian speakers.
You’ll pick up on regional dialects, colloquial expressions, and body language that you won’t get from podcasts and classroom lessons. Eventually, you can move on to videos by Russian YouTubers that are intended for native Russian speakers. We’ve come up with this list of the 19 best YouTube channels to get you started.
They’re loosely organized into three categories – those for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of Russian. However, some of these YouTube channels can have a bit of overlap into one or both of the other categories. Let’s get into it…
Start your language-learning lessons with these videos, which are intended for students who are new to the Russian language. Whether you’re starting from zero or know a few words and phrases, these channels will walk you through the basics. Stick with them to gradually progress to more intermediate material.
The LanguagePod101 channels are a great place to start for a variety of languages, and the Russian channel is no exception. Although you’ll have to pay for a membership to the site (starting at $8/month) to access all the material, plenty of lessons are available for free on YouTube, including videos on greetings, introductions, holidays, and more.
There are thousands of videos here, so you won’t run out anytime soon. Start with their video on how to learn the Russian alphabet in two minutes. As you get more comfortable with your vocabulary, try out the listening exercises and put your comprehension skills to the test. You’ll learn from several different instructors and can even turn on the 24/7 TV channel to have a running series of lessons on grammar and vocabulary.
The number of lessons here might seem overwhelming at first, but they’re categorized into a variety of helpful playlists so you can jump in at any learning level.
This video series is produced by RT, one of Russia’s most well-known news sites that’s sometimes criticized for being a propaganda arm of the government. But there’s nothing controversial about these video lessons, which feature several different hosts teaching you how to say and spell basic Russian phrases, from “Sorry” to “I love you.”
These videos don’t go into too much depth, and are very short: many of them are less than 30 seconds. But you’ll also get to see a few man-on-the-street interviews that will introduce you to the dialects of everyday Russian speakers. Don’t rely on these for full lessons, but they’re definitely worth dipping into as you begin your studies.
This YouTube channel is created by WikiTranslate and provides lessons for a variety of learning levels. Host Natasha Brown uses the direct learning method, which means that you’re immersed in Russian from the start. Some of her videos feature her speaking to the camera, while others show her sitting with a Russian student asking questions.
These videos aren’t as slick and modern as some of the other channels, but they offer a good introduction that covers the alphabet, cases, gender and more. Most of them have subtitles in English and in Russian to get you familiar with the Russian alphabet.
Weekly Russian is hosted by Natalia and covers basic pronunciation to intermediate grammar topics. You can learn about Russian names (and common mistakes to avoid that are associated with them), as well as essential phrases for travelers. Most of the videos focus on the words on the screen, with Natalia speaking off-camera. There’s even a playlist featuring Russian poetry for some exposure to Russian culture!
Fun Russian offers colorful language learning videos that are great for beginners — as well as families learning Russian together. These kid-friendly videos include lessons on the names for wild animals in Russian, breads and pastries, and other topics. Most of the videos have illustrations that make it easy to associate words with their meanings.
Another fun video is their lesson on 15 Russian words that come from English. This is a great way to see how the sounds and spellings differ between the two languages, even when the meaning of the words are relatively the same.
R for Russian is a language channel suitable for beginner and intermediate learners. It’s divided into playlists based on difficulty level, so you can start from scratch or jump in at the level that’s right for you. There are also videos on specific topics, such as the words for car parts, and skits based on everyday conversations. Some of the videos include music, such as songs to help you memorize grammar.
Elena is a language instructor who offers lessons covering beginner vocabulary, such as colors and numbers, to slow listening exercises related to hotels, grocery shopping, and other everyday themes. Use this channel to study confusing Russian words or try one of the listening lessons, in which you’ll be asked to figure out the answer to a question based on your comprehension of the story.
This channel is run by a native speaker who covers everything from Russian grammar and vocabulary to differences between English and Russian pronunciation. But one of the most useful videos for beginners will be his introduction to language proficiency levels, in which he breaks down the different skills on the road to fluency.
This is a useful way to measure your current abilities, set a target, and figure out which YouTube lessons will be most helpful for getting you there.
Rush into Russian is a fun, modern YouTube channel made by host Kris Amerikos. If you’re planning to travel or study in Russia, you can choose from “What Not To Say In Russia” or “Curse Words in Russian.” You can also clear up some confusion with the video on “Russian words that look like the plural form of English words.”
These YouTube channels are a good intermediate step between beginner videos and more advanced content. They assume some knowledge of the language, but typically have subtitles in English to help you along. Use these videos to level-up your skills, expand your vocabulary, and familiarize yourself with Russian dialects and slang.
The Easy Languages channel is available in many languages. Like most of the content they make, the Russian videos feature “man-on-the-street” interviews, in which everyday people weigh in on cultural and political topics. Videos cover everything from weather and holidays to typical breakfast foods, superstitions, and stereotypes.
Many of the videos take place in St. Petersburg, giving you insight into Russian culture and regional dialects. Since the interviews are entirely in Russian, intermediate learners will have to pay close attention to follow along, but there are subtitles in English, as well as transcriptions in the Cyrillic alphabet and a Latinized version of Russian.
The Ru-Land Club YouTube Channel is a comprehensive resource for Russian learners of all levels. The hosts are all professionals with experience teaching Russian, so you can feel confident that their lessons are accurate and easy to follow. Topics include everything from business vocabulary to ways to express irritation and sarcasm.
Some lessons are great for beginners, while others will be more suitable for intermediate students, such as a video on Russian idioms about the weather. You can also check out the Russian reading playlist and listening practice to see how much you’ve retained.
Antonia Romaker is a YouTube host who teaches both English and Russian on the same channel. There are over 100 lessons on the Russian with Passion playlist, from the alphabet to cases, all the way through sports, travel, and cooking. This channel is great for beginners but will keep you entertained as you progress to more difficult material. For a different challenge, try following along with the English lessons for Russian speakers and see how much of the language you can pick up.
Daria is a certified language instructor living in Moscow who makes videos on Russian grammar and pronunciation. Although her lessons are great for beginners, they can also help intermediate learners who want to improve their speaking and writing skills. One of the most useful is her Russian cursive tutorial, which will teach you how to write in the Cyrillic script. She also has listening exercises to help with your comprehension.
Another great thing about her channel is that she has videos in fast and slow Russian, so you can listen to her talk about her family or her favorite superhero at a pace that is slow and clear enough for intermediate learners to understand. If you need more help, you can turn on the English subtitles or follow along with the full Russian transcript.
This channel is great for tourists too. She even has a video in which she shows you around a Russian hospital and explains the health care system!
Russian from Russia is hosted by Anna, a professional language instructor. She has a wide range of videos available, from basic phrases for beginners to in-depth playlists on verbs of motion, learning Russian through poetry, and more. Use the 6-Minute Russian Cases Drill to get you familiar with the case endings, or follow along on her car trip from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok to see the countryside!
Anna’s videos will increase your fluency while introducing you to Russian culture. Most of them have thorough subtitles in case you get lost along the way!
This channel is a must for any language nerds who want to understand the specifics of Russian grammar. It will be too in-depth for beginners, but is great for intermediate and advanced Russian students, with video titles such as “Taming the Genitive Plural” and “Dative Adjective Endings.” Since English doesn’t use cases in the same way, these concepts can be hard for English speakers to wrap their heads around. The videos found here are mostly text-based, with English narration.
Angelos Georgakis will help you “learn Russian through fun videos,” including learning the genitive case through the film Irony of Fate. Angelos is not a native speaker, but his videos include interviews with Russian locals on his travels to St. Petersburg in which he asks them to explain Russian grammar. Some videos have English and Russian subtitles if you need help following along with the conversation.
These video channels are perfect for advanced learners. They’re primarily intended for native speakers, so you won’t find beginner lessons here. Instead, you’ll find videos by Russian YouTubers and news channels that will help you get familiar with Russian as it’s spoken in the media and pop culture.
This channel is made by a Russian YouTuber who covers a range of topics, including travel videos and interviews with guests. Follow along as he visits the U.K., Africa, and other parts of the world on his travel adventures. You’ll need to understand the Cyrillic alphabet to navigate the channel, and be pretty advanced at Russian to keep up. But you’ll improve your listening skills in no time if you stick with it!
Russia Today is a state-funded media channel that posts news videos and other content related to current events all over the world. Outside of Russia, it’s considered a source of propaganda, so take what you hear with a grain of salt. For example, the travel videos on Crimea aren’t likely to mention that Russia recently invaded the region. Still, it’s a good way to practice your “official” Russian, and get a glimpse into what the Russian media thinks of U.S.-Russia relations and other contemporary topics.
This YouTube channel uses Russian-language media to introduce you to new topics, including movie clips and audio dialogues. Use these videos to practice your listening skills, and see how well you can follow along without turning on the subtitles!
Russian can seem like a daunting language for new students, but with a little dedication, these YouTube channels will help get you on the road to fluency. Once you learn how to read the Cyrillic alphabet, everything else will follow. Start slowly and work your way up to the more advanced channels and soon you’ll be ready to travel or study in Russia!