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Forget About the Paywalls: Learn French for Free

Until now, you may have been saving up to pay for your first French class. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a subscription to a language learning app that keeps showing up in your news feed. Or, perhaps you’ve given up all hopes of learning French because it will cost too much.

What if we told you that you could learn French without touching your wallet? That you can start your learning journey today, for free?

It’s true.

With our experience testing hundreds of resources, we know that it’s possible—and we’ll show you how. You won’t need to put aside money for monthly payments or splurge on a new textbook; all you need is your motivation and a digital device.

So keep reading and let’s explore a ton of high-quality resources to keep your French studies free!

Choose Your Resources

If you want to learn French for free, you may need to adopt an eclectic approach to French resources. What is limited access in one may be free in another, so don’t get discouraged if you hit a paywall.

We’ve made sure to include resources that tackle reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You can mix and match, but at the beginner and intermediate levels you may want to establish an overarching structure with step-by-step courses.

We’ll first introduce some course options, then offer some podcasts, YouTube channels, and reading tools to enrich your studies.

Next we’ll point you towards a plethora of practice activities to refine your skills and some reference sites for when you need a quick answer for grammar, pronunciation, nuances and more.

It’s often more fun to learn with others, so we’ve also handpicked some community sites for language exchanges and writing and speaking feedback.

Finally, you’ll find out how to get some paid resources for free and assess your French level based on the CEFR scale.

And don’t forget, if you sign up to be an app tester on the ALR website, you can get free access to paid resources in exchange for your honest opinions.

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Our Top 30 Japanese Podcasts for Learners of All Levels

Need a break from kanji practice and memorising conjugation tables? Podcasts are an excellent way to unwind while still improving your Japanese.

There are podcasts dedicated to teaching beginner Japanese, pronunciation, slang, vocabulary and more. And then there are the podcasts where the hosts talk in Japanese about their day-to-day life, culture and society, history, technology and everything else you can think of.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new Japanese student or an advanced learner looking for more specialist topics. Podcasts will help you improve your listening and pronunciation, gain a more intuitive understanding of grammar and common expressions, and above all, enjoy learning and using Japanese.

Plus, the language used will often be more natural than in anime, manga, novels and even your textbooks – because after all, podcast hosts are real people having a genuine (if at times semi-scripted) conversation.

To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks for Japanese learners and organised them by level. Of course, identifying the level can be subjective, depending on the vocabulary and accent you’re used to, as well as the episode you’re listening to. So, don’t be put off if one seems harder (or easier!) than you might have expected. Just give another podcast on the list a go.

Japanese Podcasts for All Levels

Some highly prolific podcast creators have gone out of their way to produce content for Japanese learners of all levels – and on the same channel. Never fear, though, because we’ve only included ones that clearly state the target level for each episode in the title. Read on for some podcasts you’re unlikely to outgrow:

JLPT Stories

This podcast has something for pretty much every learner, although you’ll want to get the essentials under your belt first. It contains short stories categorised by JLPT level, from an N5-level story about trying to ask a girl out at Disneyland to an N1-level story of a woman touring Hokkaido on a 50cc motorbike – despite her mum’s nervousness.

Unfortunately, it looks like this podcast might be discontinued. For now, though, there are plenty of previous episodes for you to listen to.

Let’s Talk in Japanese

Learners from N4 (upper beginner) up to N1 will find plenty to listen to on this podcast from Japanese teacher Tomo. The topics vary greatly, from food and sightseeing to Japanese culture and everything in between. Despite being a teacher, Tomo doesn’t set out to teach you anything. Instead, he gives you plenty of level-appropriate listening practice. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Japanese Swotter

Listening to this podcast won’t just improve your listening and teach you new Japanese vocabulary and grammar. It’s designed specifically to help you improve your speaking, no matter how little – or much – Japanese you know. Although most of the content is aimed at beginner and lower-intermediate speakers, there is an advanced level. Patreon subscribers also get access to full transcripts and translations.

JapanesePod101

JapanesePod101 has literally thousands of Japanese lessons. They go all the way up to advanced, although – like most resources – there’s more material at lower levels. With so many podcast and video lessons, it can feel disorganised. Opt for a pathway and use it alongside a textbook or a resource like Wasabi’s grammar reference to help you stay on track.

Although you can get some material for free, for full access, you’ll need to sign up for a premium account. You can use the code ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES for a 25% discount. Check out our in-depth review for more information.

Japanese Podcasts for Complete Beginners

If you know zero Japanese, this section is the one for you. You’ll learn how to say things like “My name is…” and “Do you speak English?”.

There aren’t many podcasts that cater for complete beginners, and many of them are behind a paywall. But once you’ve learnt the basics, you’ll find there are a lot more podcasts available for you. So as soon as you’re ready, take a look at the next section: Japanese Podcasts for Beginners.

NHK Easy Japanese

This 48-episode Japanese podcast-based course may be dated, but it’s suitable for complete beginners who prefer audio learning and are looking for a gentle introduction to the language.

The lessons start off with an English-language explanation, before playing a dialogue. Then there will be a breakdown in English of the language used. Finally, there’s a “learning point” from the programme supervisor. This is an – admittedly slightly awkward – stage that involves the programme supervisor saying a sentence of Japanese that your regular host then translates into English for you and explains further.

You may find yourself reaching for Google to look up unexplained English-language grammar terms, like “predicate”, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t be overwhelmed by the Japanese.

FUN Japanese Listening

This podcast only has 20 short-and-sweet episodes, filled with even shorter-and-sweeter textbook-style dialogues. Yet the series packs in a surprising amount of basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary. It won’t replace your Japanese course or textbook, but it will give you some extra listening practice in new contexts.

You can also download accompanying worksheets here, read Asuka-sensei’s blog posts about Japanese culture here or sign up to her free hiragana and katakana courses.

Pimsleur

If you liked the idea of the NHK Japanese podcast, but the dated nature and slightly awkward interactions left you unimpressed, you might find Pimsleur more to your taste.

This is a paid-for podcast-esque course that will introduce you to beginner-level Japanese. Some people criticise it for its slow pace and 30-minute lessons, but there’s also a lot in its favour. It’s well-structured and really drills your pronunciation and listening. Even if you already know the material, you’ll likely find your speaking improves after a few lessons.

Read our in-depth review of Pimsleur’s Japanese, German and Spanish courses to find out more.

Japanese Uncoveredjapanese uncovered course

This pay-to-use audiobook is not quite a podcast, not quite a course. It’s a 20-chapter original novel designed to transform you from a complete beginner into an intermediate-level speaker.

First, you’ll listen to a chapter at either slow or normal speed. Then, you’ll get a PDF transcript and translation and do a series of video lessons based on the chapter: vocabulary, grammar, keigo, pronunciation, writing and culture. Each one comes with a worksheet, and you’ll wrap up the unit with a quiz and some recommended speaking activities. Finally, it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

The only catch? It’s one of the priciest Japanese resources around. Check out our detailed review of the Languages Uncovered series for more information.

Japanese Podcasts for Beginners

You’ve mastered the absolute basics, such as これは何ですか and 今日はあついです, but you’ve still got plenty to learn. The podcasts in this section will reinforce basic Japanese vocabulary and grammar, help you learn some more natural phrasing and improve your listening and pronunciation.

Most of these podcasts use English as well as Japanese. However, towards the end of the list, you’ll also find some slowly spoken, all-in-Japanese podcasts that will let you work on your listening comprehension. がんばって!

LearnJapanesePod

Looking for beginner-friendly podcasts that will introduce you to natural phrases? LearnJapanesePod mixes lessons with interviews, and it focuses on conversational Japanese. Expect to hear phrases like すし好き? instead of the textbook-esque あなたはおすしが好きですか. And since it focuses mainly on situational Japanese, it’s a nice supplemental option to more grammar-orientated podcasts and courses.

Some learners may be frustrated by the heavy use of English, but there are plenty of cultural explanations that make it worthwhile. The hosts also have genuine chemistry. But, if you don’t want to listen to the English, don’t worry: they also publish a dialogues-only version of each lesson.

Beginning Japanese

Have you ever learnt a Japanese phrase by heart and then confidently used it in conversation, only to discover that the person you’re speaking to couldn’t understand you?

Often, you’ve actually remembered the phrase perfectly. You just need to work on your pronunciation. Maybe it’s the intonation, maybe it’s the vowels, or maybe it’s that little sokuon or っ sound that can be so tricky. Whatever it is, something’s not quite right.

That’s where the Beginning Japanese podcast comes in. Each episode takes just one word or phrase with one example sentence. Then, it gets you to shadow the hosts, saying it as they say it, so that you pick up natural pronunciation and intonation. It’s a win-win situation: you improve your vocabulary and your Japanese speaking at the same time. And it works nicely alongside a flashcard app like Anki, too.

Manga Sensei

Get ready to expand your vocabulary. Each episode of this podcast is focused on a single Japanese word or phrase, which are generally N5–N3 level. But this podcast doesn’t just explain the basics. There’s plenty of information about natural, non-textbook Japanese so you can choose how to express your personality, gender identity and age when you speak.

Confusingly, the podcast titles and descriptions often use a non-standardised form of romaji transliteration that seems to be based on a US American accent. For example, they sometimes use “d” instead of “r”, add an “h” to the end of vowels or skip vowels. Take あいだ (間): Manga Sensei writes it as “idah” instead of the standard romaji spelling of “aida”.

As such, low beginners should probably approach this podcast with caution. Until you’re familiar with Japanese pronunciation and spelling rules, the non-standard spelling can make it extremely difficult to look up further information or use the language when writing.

Nihongo Master

Nihongo Master mixes cultural insights with language lessons. The latter kick off with an English-language explanation of the target grammar or vocabulary. Next, you’ll hear dialogues, followed by translations or quizzes, and then breakdowns or vocabulary recaps. The episodes can at times feel rushed, but they’re an entertaining supplement to your regular studies.

Tofugu

Tofugu’s a well-known name in the Japanese-learning community, and for good reason: the website contains a wealth of in-depth blog posts, grammar guides and more. Their podcast used to be devoted to information about Japan, but since 2018, they’ve been uploading more and more ones about the language itself.

Most of the topics are beginner-level, although they’re far from superficial. It often feels more like a discussion than a lesson, and intermediate learners may also pick up useful titbits. That said, some learners may feel frustrated by the heavy use of English.

Sakura Tips

It’s time to ease into all-in-Japanese podcasts. Don’t be nervous, though: this is a very slowly spoken podcast that uses easy Japanese. Your host Mari’s pronunciation is extremely clear, and you can also read the Japanese and English transcripts on the website.

Japanese Podcast for Beginners (Nihongo con Teppei)

Ready to take your Japanese listening to the next level? The short-and-sweet episodes of this beginner-level podcast may use basic vocabulary and phrases, but they feel less artificial than most textbooks. The target phrases are used multiple times to help you out, while Teppei’s speaking starts off painstakingly slow and gradually gets faster. As such, it’s a good way to challenge your listening comprehension without throwing yourself in the deep end.

Japanese with Teppei and Noriko

Does one of these names sound familiar? We’ve already mentioned Teppei’s beginner-level solo podcast. In fact, you’re going to see both these names quite a lot on this list, because Noriko and Teppei are prolific podcasters with a good grasp of what makes Japanese tricky for learners.

This entertaining podcast doesn’t use difficult vocabulary or grammar, but even so, it might seem hard at first. This is because it’s the first podcast on this list that features natural, unscripted conversations in Japanese. Listening to a conversation is nearly always more challenging than a dialogue, but it’s also more realistic.

So fasten your seatbelts and get ready to listen to Teppei and Noriko as they discuss Nutella, their Spanish studies, different Japanese accents and much more. This podcast will not only give you more exposure to beginner-level vocabulary and phrases, but it will also help you prepare for conversations with multiple people. Bear in mind that the audio quality of earlier lessons is pretty poor, but it improves over time.

よ・み・き・か・せ JXTGグループ 童話の花‪束

This podcast may be designed for children rather than language learners, but it’s a great way to practise your listening comprehension and broaden your vocabulary. In each episode, the narrator reads out a story – complete with different voices, sound effects, and more. While you might not understand everything, you’ll be surprised by how much you can follow.

Japanese Podcasts for Intermediate Learners

As an intermediate-level speaker, you already have fairly good listening comprehension – providing the podcast host speaks slowly and uses basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary. Now, though, you’re ready to be challenged with more complex language and faster speaking speeds. There’s virtually no English used in most podcasts at this level.

にほんごのたね

Looking for a gentle introduction to intermediate-level content? Try this immersion podcast, in which your host Yumi talks slowly and clearly about Japanese culture, her daily life with her family and much more. It’s designed for upper beginner and intermediate learners, and each episode is just a few unintimidating minutes long.

Learn Japanese with Noriko

Let’s step up the difficulty slightly with this next podcast. We looked at Noriko’s collaboration with Teppei in the beginner section, but lower-intermediate level learners will likely prefer her solo podcast. It’s slightly more difficult, the episodes are a bit longer and yet it’s just as entertaining. Topics vary, but with hundreds of episodes to choose from, you’re bound to find several that interest you. The audio quality is also excellent.

Nihongo con Teppei

We’ve already mentioned the beginner-friendly version of this podcast above. Now it’s time to dive into the intermediate-level version of the Nihongo con Teppei podcast, with its 600+ episodes. The vocabulary and grammar are more challenging, so don’t worry if you can’t understand everything at first. Keep listening, and you’ll be surprised by how much you improve over time.

Nihongo SWiTCH

Podcaster Iku Yamamoto might speak slower than some other podcasters, such as Noriko and Teppei, but don’t dismiss this podcast. She uses more difficult vocabulary and grammar, and the topics are often slightly more challenging too. In fact, her target audience is intermediate and advanced learners.

Most of her episodes are about learning Japanese or Japanese culture. She talks about Japanese news and surveys; traditions, including the less-well known ones; and natural Japanese phrases and vocabulary that might not appear on the JLPT but will come in handy nonetheless.

Let’s learn Japanese from small talk!

If there’s one thing that strikes fear in most language-learners’ hearts, it’s a multi-person conversation. That’s why podcasts like this one are so useful. Two Japanese women studying in the UK chat about their experiences. It’s entertaining, not overly challenging and a great way to get used to more conversational Japanese. They also publish a vocabulary list for each episode online, so if you’re struggling, check that out.

Nあ~ casual nihongo

This relaxed podcast will help you pick up more casual, natural Japanese phrases, especially Kansai-ben. Thanks to the slow speech and online episode guides, it’s not too challenging to listen to. However, there are some interesting topics, such as reverse culture shock and when you can switch to calling a Japanese person by their first name.

Conversations

This 20-chapter pay-to-listen podcast is designed to provide comprehensible input for lower-intermediate speakers. This means it speaks slightly above your level, but not so much above it that you can’t understand it – albeit with a little bit of effort and perhaps a few replays. Although at first this might be frustrating and challenging, it’s a good way to improve your listening comprehension. Bear in mind, however, that Conversations is on the pricier end.

News in Slow JapaneseNews in Slow

Are your vocabulary and grammar better than your listening comprehension? You’re not alone in that. Don’t worry, though, because we’ve got the podcast for you. News in Slow Japanese is designed for intermediate and advanced learners, but you can play the recordings at two speeds: fast, which is still pretty slow; and slow, which is incredibly slow. In short, it’s a great catch-up tool for your listening comprehension.

They’ve uploaded the transcripts on their website, and premium subscribers also get access to worksheets along with shadowing tools that should help you improve your pronunciation. If you don’t want to use the website, however, you can find all the episodes on Apple Podcasts.

Sound Library

Love fiction? You’ll enjoy this podcast-turned-radio programme in which actress Tae Kimura reads stories aloud. It’s proved so popular that an accompanying book has also been published.

While it’s designed for native speakers, we’re including it in the intermediate section because of the slow speaking speed. The vocabulary and grammar may at times challenge you, but it’s a good way to ease yourself into material designed not for learners but for the average Japanese speaker.

Japanese Podcasts for Advanced Learners

As an advanced student, you’re ready to take on content that’s designed for native speakers – and that’s exciting. You’re no longer limited by what’s available. You can listen to anything you want to. Interested in history? There are over 10 million Google results for 歴史のポッドキャスト. Feminism? There are many to choose from. Politics? Just pick your flavour.

So ironically, this section is one of the shortest. After all, you don’t need our recommendations. And even though we’d like to, we can’t possibly tell you which Japanese-language podcasts are most worthy of listening to – that’s going to depend on your personal interests.

The podcasts that we have included are either extremely popular with Japanese learners or include lots of guests. Treat them as useful starting points – but don’t be afraid to branch out on your own.

Tokyo Midtown presents The Lifestyle MUSEUM

Purists may not be impressed by this podcast, which isn’t actually produced by a native speaker. However, your host is a fluent Japanese speaker who not only lives and works in Japan but also presents TV programmes on NHK World. Each episode includes different guests – who are typically native speakers – so the topics vary greatly.

ひいきびいき

This old podcast remains hugely popular with Japanese language-learners, and for good reason. The hosts Daichi and Haruka have genuine chemistry and are animated speakers, which makes for engrossing listening. And since each episode focuses on a different one of “their favourite things”, you’re bound to find a topic that interests you.

ひいきびいき is no longer updated, and the recordings stopped functioning on most podcast platforms in 2020. However, around 300 episodes are still available via The Internet Archive.

Rebuild

This podcast is all about tech, software and gadgets. You can expect some specialist vocabulary and plenty of geeky content. Sometimes, the topics verge onto sociology, too, but it’s always done through the lens of science.

Your main host, Miyagawa, articulates clearly and the audio quality is good. The guest hosts, however, sometimes have thicker accents. If you find yourself struggling, try a different episode. And if you find a guest host whose perspectives you find interesting, check out the web version of the episode. You’ll be able to click on the host’s image and see every other episode they’ve appeared on.

Honourable Mention:

Audiobook.jp

We’ll hold our hands up and admit it: this isn’t a podcast. It is, however, a website that will let you buy Japanese audiobooks without a Japanese bank card or billing address – and that’s something of a rarity.

Audiobooks and podcasts aren’t really the same thing. Podcasts will often introduce you to more casual, conversational language. Yet audiobooks will also improve your listening, broaden your vocabulary and help you internalise tricky grammar. And there is no shortage of topics. Whether you love fantasy novels or like to learn more about business, you’ll find something here.

So there you go: 30 podcasts, audiobook sites and podcast-esque audio courses to help you improve your listening comprehension, pick up new vocabulary, and above all, have fun learning Japanese.

Podcasts might be less structured than traditional study materials, such as courses and textbooks, but they’re an excellent language-learning tool. You’ll get used to hearing how Japanese people really speak, whether you’re listening to a one-person monologue or a multi-host conversation. So don’t hesitate to add a couple of the podcasts on our list to your study routine.

And of course, as you learn more Japanese, you can expand from our list to find the podcasts that really interest you – whether that’s geeky lectures about science or history, passionate breakdowns of current affairs or lighthearted explorations of popular culture.

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14 Best Arabic Courses: Stories, Dialogues, Reading, and More!

You may be getting ready to take your first steps in learning Arabic—or, you may have been studying for a while but are seeking more structure in your studies. With about 30 varieties of Arabic to learn, it can be difficult to know where to look for guidance.

Though there are not many comprehensive courses available to Arabic learners, we’ve collected some great picks to support your studies. Even some of our lower-rated suggestions may provide inspiration and motivation. 

Whether you’re learning for everyday communication, making new friends, or reading the Quran, you’ll likely find something enjoyable and educational on this list. So let’s get started!

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4/5
Price: $14.95 OR $19.95/MONTH
Interactive audio lessons with speaking practice

If you are keen to get speaking from day one, Pimsleur’s audio courses may be just what you’re looking for. You won’t spend much time reading or writing in Arabic, but you will learn to have basic conversations relatively quickly. 

The course uses backchaining to rapidly improve your pronunciation and fluidity. It also effectively builds on each of the previous lessons, so you won’t feel lost moving from the beginner to advanced levels. 

Through interacting with dialogues and responding to prompts from the narrator, you will soon be speaking full sentences in Arabic. You can also top up your skills with some quizzes and flashcards, though these aren’t necessary to succeed in the course.

Pros

  • Structured lessons
  • Practical speaking practice
  • Intuitive user interface

Cons

  • May be a bit slow for some learners
  • No reading or writing practice
  • No real-world listening comprehension practice
4.2/5
Price: $8-$47/MONTH
arabicpod101
Hundreds of audio lessons with flashcards and transcripts

If you want to learn Arabic and gain insight into Arab culture, look no further than ArabicPod101. With comprehensive grammar explanations, lesson notes, transcripts, and quizzes, you can enjoy many hours of learning in one place.

You won’t have to worry about repetitive topics with the numerous lesson paths to choose from. You also won’t get bored listening to the hosts, as their interactions with each other and their listeners are both friendly and personable.

Some lessons appear more like phrasebook dictionaries, but you can pick through dozens of lesson paths to see which one suits you best.

Pros

  • Lots of content in multiple dialects
  • Hosts have a nice dynamic
  • There is less English as the lessons progress
  • Great cultural context

Cons

  • Not very structured
  • The website is a bit confusing and has lots of advertisements
  • Not much speaking or writing practice
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
Structured design with speaking and writing practice

Busuu’s Arabic course leaves a lot to be desired, but it can be both fun and educational if you already have a basic understanding of grammar and pronunciation. There are about 115 lessons that follow a logical progression and loosely adhere to the CEFR scale. Each lesson teaches practical language that you can use in your everyday life. 

If you have no background in Arabic, you’ll likely find it more difficult to follow along. The course teaches you through quizzes and repetition, but it makes little room for you to understand grammar or pronunciation before advancing to the next topic. Luckily they provide both the Arabic script and romanized script, so you won’t have to learn to write before using the app. 

One awesome feature that Busuu provides is the opportunity to practice your writing and speaking skills with fellow community members. Busuu invites free and paid users alike to interact with each other through correcting exercises in their native language. 

Our rating for Busuu would be higher if it wasn’t for the Arabic and Chinese courses, but it’s still a fine resource to provide structure and keep you motivated.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best
3.2/5
Price: $30/MONTH, $299.88/YEAR
Glossika Logo
Speaking and listening practice for intermediate learners

Glossika won’t teach you explicit grammar rules, pronunciation, or the Arabic script—but if you enjoy learning through repetition and speaking, you may enjoy its extensive phrase bank. 

This resource uses spaced repetition to drill key phrases, then invites you to practice what you’ve learned through dictation and speaking exercises. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet learned the Arabic script, as you can read and type the romanized characters. 

Though Glossika will familiarize you with the Arabic language through extensive repetition, this isn’t the best resource if you are looking for dynamic practice and direct instruction for grammar and pronunciation.

Pros

  • Vocabulary covers a wide range of topics
  • Uses spaced repetition
  • Has audio recorded by native speakers

Cons

  • Expensive for what it offers
  • No grammar explanations
  • Can get too repetitive
  • Doesn’t break down pronunciation
4.3/5
Price: FREE
Understand Arabic without memorization

Don’t worry about having to memorize extensive vocabulary lists or drill repetitive phrases.
With Language Transfer you’ll problem solve, deconstruct and build your own sentences, and identify patterns in the Arabic language. The goal is to understand Arabic—not memorize it—making you more confident to tackle more advanced material in your future studies.

This course is for beginners with little to no exposure to Arabic and is entirely audio based. You won’t need to take notes, but you will need focus to engage with Mihalis’s practice activities and prompts.

The best part? It’s 100% free.

Pros

  • Free
  • Has well-structured lessons
  • Thoughtfully developed

Cons

  • No native speakers
  • Uses a lot of English
  • The pace might be too slow for some learners
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/MONTH OR $55.99/YEAR

Who wouldn’t want to learn Arabic in the company of an adorable deer with glasses?

If you’ve tried Duolingo, you’ll be familiar with LingoDeer’s format. But, you may be pleasantly surprised to find something that Duolingo’s Arabic course has yet to develop: detailed grammar explanations. LingoDeer adds short readings to its gamified format so you can get more out of your studies.

It may be difficult to get through the first four lessons of unit one without prior knowledge of the Arabic alphabet, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be home free to learn basic conversational topics.

Keep in mind that the Arabic course is still in the beta phase. They currently have 30 units for total beginners, but you may want to hold off on getting a membership if you are looking for more than the absolute basics. Luckily, you can also test out several lessons without signing up to see if you like it.

Pros

  • Detailed grammar explanations
  • Native speaker audio
  • Fun

Cons

  • Limited speaking practice
  • Only has content for absolute beginners
  • Need to look elsewhere to practice the Arabic script

FSI and DLI courses

4.3/5
Price: Free
Outdated but comprehensive courses for multiple dialects

The Foreign Services Institute (FSI) and Defense Language Institute (DLI) are probably the most comprehensive, free language learning resources in the world. Unfortunately, they are also very outdated.

With the FSI’s moderate focus on politics and the DLI’s attention to military terminology, you will probably need to learn and forget several sections of the course. But, if you are motivated and disciplined, you can follow in the steps of past diplomats who persevered through hundreds of hours of self-study course material. Your hard work will pay off when you have your first conversation with an Arabic speaker—though you may want to spend time listening to recent podcasts or videos to update your vocabulary beforehand.

Beginners can choose a dialect and start studying today. If you already speak Egyptian or Levantine Arabic, the FSI’s Comparative Arabic Course will help you transition into the other dialect.

Pros

  • Free
  • Teaches multiple dialects
  • Courses are structured and comprehensive

Cons

  • Can be dry and boring
  • Outdated and sexist language
4.3/5
Price: free
Learn the Arabic Alphabet

Arabic Quick! dedicates its text-based lessons to teaching you the Arabic script. It has an attractive, colorful interface that gives you clear structure for your learning and is probably the most comprehensive free guide you’ll find on the internet.

The lessons are dedicated to each letter of the alphabet, which are broken down by how they are written at the start, middle, and end of a word. You’ll find examples and explanations for different pronunciation rules, plus mnemonic devices to easily remember how each letter is written. Arabic Quick! also helps you compare differences between similar-looking letters so you are prepared to avoid mixing them up in the future.

This is a great place to start or continue your studies of the Arabic script. It can easily be used alongside other resources that teach you conversational Arabic.

Pros

  • Detailed explanations of how to write each letter
  • Color-coded examples 
  • Helps you remember each letter and the differences between them

Cons

  • No quizzes or writing exercises
  • Very little audio pronunciation
  • Requires a lot of reading
4.2/5
Price: $8-$47/MONTH
arabicpod101
Hundreds of audio lessons with flashcards and transcripts

If you want to learn Arabic and gain insight into Arab culture, look no further than ArabicPod101. With comprehensive grammar explanations, lesson notes, transcripts, and quizzes, you can enjoy many hours of learning in one place.

You won’t have to worry about repetitive topics with the numerous lesson paths to choose from. You also won’t get bored listening to the hosts, as their interactions with each other and their listeners are both friendly and personable.

Some lessons appear more like phrasebook dictionaries, but you can pick through dozens of lesson paths to see which one suits you best.

Pros

  • Lots of content in multiple dialects
  • Hosts have a nice dynamic
  • There is less English as the lessons progress
  • Great cultural context

Cons

  • Not very structured
  • The website is a bit confusing and has lots of advertisements
  • Not much speaking or writing practice
4/5
Price: $14.95 OR $19.95/MONTH
Interactive audio lessons with speaking practice

If you are keen to get speaking from day one, Pimsleur’s audio courses may be just what you’re looking for. You won’t spend much time reading or writing in Arabic, but you will learn to have basic conversations relatively quickly. 

The course uses backchaining to rapidly improve your pronunciation and fluidity. It also effectively builds on each of the previous lessons, so you won’t feel lost moving from the beginner to advanced levels. 

Through interacting with dialogues and responding to prompts from the narrator, you will soon be speaking full sentences in Arabic. You can also top up your skills with some quizzes and flashcards, though these aren’t necessary to succeed in the course.

Pros

  • Structured lessons
  • Practical speaking practice
  • Intuitive user interface

Cons

  • May be a bit slow for some learners
  • No reading or writing practice
  • No real-world listening comprehension practice
4/5
Price: Free
duolingo
A fun way to dip your toes into learning Arabic

If you’ve been too intimidated to start learning Arabic, you’re in luck. Though Duolingo’s Arabic course has less than 50 sections, it may be one of the more fun options to start learning the basics.

The lessons teach you through patterns and repetition, and you’ll probably have to follow along with a pen and pencil to get the most out of each lesson. But, the supportive owl and gamified format will ensure that you won’t get bored.

Once you’ve learned a bit of the script, you can progress through the learning tree to acquire new vocabulary and grammar structures.

Duolingo won’t teach you very practical language, and you’ll have to look elsewhere to learn the more complex aspects of the Arabic script. But, it will help you dip your toes in the language without getting discouraged.

Pros

  • Free
  • The gamified aspect is fun and potentially motivating
  • The repetition builds basic skills
  • Makes the Arabic script unintimidating for new learners

Cons

  • Only teaches the basics of the Arabic script
  • Impractical language
  • Only teaches Modern Standard Arabic
3.5/5
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Mango-languages-Logo
Learn both formal and colloquial Arabic

Though Mango Languages isn’t usually our first choice for resource recommendations, its Arabic courses are surprisingly high-quality for beginners. Not only do they teach Modern Standard Arabic, but they also teach three different dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, and Levantine. This way you’ll be able to engage in both formal and informal communication.

With 5 separate units and hundreds of lessons, you’ll go from making introductions to talking about your feelings and career. You’ll probably be able to have simple conversations by your last lesson, but the lack of attention to grammar means that you’ll need to look elsewhere to have more complex discussions.

This resource also has a unique feature that compares your voice recording to the original speaker in real time. By playing the recordings simultaneously, you can make a more accurate assessment of your pronunciation.

Pros

  • You can compare your voice in real time to the original audio recording
  • Some libraries offer it for free in the US and Canada
  • Effective drilling of new concepts
  • Cultural explanations

Cons

  • Material only covers the beginner level
  • Lack of grammar explanations
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
Structured design with speaking and writing practice

Busuu’s Arabic course leaves a lot to be desired, but it can be both fun and educational if you already have a basic understanding of grammar and pronunciation. There are about 115 lessons that follow a logical progression and loosely adhere to the CEFR scale. Each lesson teaches practical language that you can use in your everyday life. 

If you have no background in Arabic, you’ll likely find it more difficult to follow along. The course teaches you through quizzes and repetition, but it makes little room for you to understand grammar or pronunciation before advancing to the next topic. Luckily they provide both the Arabic script and romanized script, so you won’t have to learn to write before using the app. 

One awesome feature that Busuu provides is the opportunity to practice your writing and speaking skills with fellow community members. Busuu invites free and paid users alike to interact with each other through correcting exercises in their native language. 

Our rating for Busuu would be higher if it wasn’t for the Arabic and Chinese courses, but it’s still a fine resource to provide structure and keep you motivated.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best
3.2/5
Price: $30/MONTH, $299.88/YEAR
Glossika Logo
Speaking and listening practice for intermediate learners

Glossika won’t teach you explicit grammar rules, pronunciation, or the Arabic script—but if you enjoy learning through repetition and speaking, you may enjoy its extensive phrase bank. 

This resource uses spaced repetition to drill key phrases, then invites you to practice what you’ve learned through dictation and speaking exercises. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet learned the Arabic script, as you can read and type the romanized characters. 

Though Glossika will familiarize you with the Arabic language through extensive repetition, this isn’t the best resource if you are looking for dynamic practice and direct instruction for grammar and pronunciation.

Pros

  • Vocabulary covers a wide range of topics
  • Uses spaced repetition
  • Has audio recorded by native speakers

Cons

  • Expensive for what it offers
  • No grammar explanations
  • Can get too repetitive
  • Doesn’t break down pronunciation
3/5
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations

It’s difficult to find comprehensible input for beginners that gets incrementally more difficult. Usually, podcasts and resources divide their content into three or four levels; Arabic Workshop, on the other hand, divides its content into 15 difficulty levels from beginner (A1) to intermediate (B1). 

You can listen to short monologues or dialogues about practical, everyday topics with animated drawings. Or, you can read along with an interactive transcript. Though the lower levels take most of the content, the team behind this resource seems to be continually adding to the library. 

Keep in mind that other than listening to the audio multiple times or doing self-study activities, Arabic Workshop doesn’t add anything to reinforce what you have learned. Also, the transcripts only have translations for individual words and no romanized script. 

Check out some of the free sample videos before subscribing to a monthly membership.

Pros

  • Manageable jumps in difficulty
  • One of the few resources with comprehensible input for beginners
  • Teaches practical vocabulary

Cons

  • No full-sentence translations
  • No activities to reinforce what you have learned
  • Expensive for what it offers
2.8/5
Price: free
For learners studying the Quran

If you are learning Arabic to communicate in your everyday life, you’ll definitely want to look to other resources. But, if you are interested in learning classical Arabic to read the Quran, then you can use Madinah Arabic as a free, comprehensive resource.

With some self-discipline you can learn a lot from the text-based lessons and quizzes. Start with the Arabic script or dive into almost a hundred beginner lessons. There are also vocabulary lists with animations showing how to write specific words.

The website design feels a bit clumsy, and it isn’t very pleasing to the eye. But, the lessons are free and can provide your studies with some structure.

Pros

  • Free
  • Very comprehensive

Cons

  • Unattractive user interface
  • Won’t teach you to speak Arabic
  • Not very engaging
2.7/5
Price: $36/QUARTER; UP TO $179 FOR A LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION
Expensive and repetitive, but helpful for beginners

Though Rosetta Stone can get a bit repetitive, stick around if you’re a total beginner looking to develop a strong foundation of basic vocabulary and sentence structure.

Rosetta Stone has excellent audio quality recorded by native speakers, plus a logical progression from one lesson to the next. You’ll spend a lot of your time matching pictures and words, and no time building sentences or reading grammar explanations. This makes it a better option for individuals looking to learn grammar and vocabulary through immersion.

Recently, some extra features have been added to the resource’s curriculum. The Stories feature invites you to simultaneously read and listen to various texts, then record yourself reading aloud. And, instead of providing translations for keywords, you’ll see images to ensure you maintain an immersion environment.

Also, if you subscribe to Lifetime Plus, you can join other learners in 25-minute lessons with live tutors. These lessons focus on specific units, so you can pick one that directly relates to what you are learning.

Given the limited course options currently available for Arabic learners, Rosetta Stone is actually a fine choice to help you establish a foundation of basic Arabic.

Pros

  • Helps you learn basic vocabulary
  • Lessons get increasingly difficult
  • Interesting stories for reading, listening, and speaking practice
  • Livestream tutor if you subscribe to Lifetime Plus

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Repetitive format
  • Nothing for advanced learners
2.7/5
Price: £59 – £250
Maybe suitable for some learners

We wouldn’t recommend Arabic Online to total beginners, but their Advanced Arabic and Grammar Explorer courses may be helpful to intermediate learners. With interactive activities and texts, you’ll practice sentence building, reading comprehension, and grammar.

Unfortunately, we found that the beginner levels repeated several of the same themes and weren’t very engaging. These levels also had a lot of bugs in their programming.

If you’d like to try something new and just want to keep motivated, you can give Arabic Online a go. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to check out the other resources we recommend.

Pros

  • Reading comprehension activities at higher levels
  • Specifically designed for Arabic learners

Cons

  • Repeats a limited variety of themes
  • Lots of bugs that slow down the website
  • Expensive for what it offers
  • Dashboard is confusing

17 Awesome Podcasts for Your Arabic Studies

Though most language learning resources teach Modern Standard Arabic, the spoken Arabic you might hear in the real world depends on the regional dialect. Arabic podcasts will help turn your textbook Arabic into something to connect with people in everyday life. Plus, they provide an excellent means of improving your listening comprehension and getting to know Arab culture.

With some digging, we managed to find these 17 podcasts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners alike. Though most of them focus on Levantine and Egyptian Arabic, many touch on other dialects as well. With the wide range of topics and thoughtful lessons available, we’re sure that you’ll find something to enrich your communication.

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Improve Your Korean with 16 Fabulous Podcasts

Now that K-Pop has made its way to the top-40 charts in North America, you may be keen to start learning Korean. Or, you may have already decided to improve your language skills after finishing season 5 of your favorite K-drama.

Wherever you are in your Korean studies, podcasts are an excellent medium to listen to authentic conversations with Korean speakers and improve your listening comprehension.

We have searched the internet for these 16 podcasts to support your learning endeavors. We hope you find something educational, or at least entertaining, to take with you wherever you go with your digital device.

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Top 25 YouTube Channels For Learning Japanese – Beginner To Advanced

YouTube is a goldmine of Japanese language lessons and listening practice. Whether you’re looking for grammar breakdowns, non-textbook language, beginner vocabulary, or advanced-level Japanese debates on current affairs, you’ll find it here – and for free.

But search for “Japanese YouTube” and you’ll get over 300 million videos. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of dross on that list.

That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favourite YouTube channels for Japanese learners. We’ve also divided them into beginner (roughly A1–A2/N5–N4), intermediate (B1–B2/N3–N2), and advanced (C1–C2/N1). Of course, these divisions aren’t always clear cut. You’ll see some channels repeated, and you can also expect the difficulty to fluctuate slightly within each level.

However, we’re certain you’ll find plenty of interesting, educational, and entertaining YouTube channels on this list – no matter your level or personal interests.

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The 19 Best Podcasts For Learning Russian Regardless Of Your Level

How many ways are there to learn Russian? That question may be unanswerable, but what’s certain is that there are enough to appeal to learners of all types.

Visual learners may appreciate educational YouTube channels, those that appreciate a highly organized approach may prefer online courses, and on-the-go learners could opt for language-learning apps.

This post will explore an oft-overlooked learning strategy — podcasts. Podcasts offer many benefits as language-learning tools: they’re often free or inexpensive, they can provide extensive listening practice on just about every topic imaginable, and they’re extremely portable.

We’ve combed the internet in search of the best podcasts for learners of Russian and have organized them by level. No matter where you are on your Russian-language journey, there’s likely a podcast that’s perfect for you — find yours in the list below!

 

Russian Podcasts for Beginners

fluentli.

Image of a blue journal with the word fluentli on the cover.

This is a relatively short audio course with 17 podcast-style lessons for absolute beginners. If you’re just starting out with the language and would like some guided practice in audio form, this resource is worth checking out.

A fair amount of English is used, but each episode builds on the previous ones and comes with lesson notes that translate key phrases. Total beginners looking for a gentle, free introduction to Russian may find what they’re looking for here.

RUSSIANPOD101

RussianPod101 is among the most comprehensive resources for beginners learning Russian. While a subscription isn’t free, it is less expensive than many other paid resources. The Russian Survival Phrases series is available for free on major podcast streaming platforms.

Subscribers to the RussianPod101 course are granted access to thousands of podcast-style lessons. The majority of these are at the beginner level, but

you’ll find some intermediate and advanced lessons as well. Typically, the hosts will listen to a dialogue and then take some time explaining important words, grammar, and cultural information.

In addition to the lessons, you’ll also find line-by-line transcripts, grammar notes, flashcards, and other useful tools.

The lessons don’t necessarily progress in a clear, logical order — instead, the platform lends itself to jumping between lessons. If you’re looking for some more structure with your study, you could use the resource alongside a textbook to guide your practice. Here’s our in-depth review.

Slow Russian Podcast.

Image of Daria from Real Russian club next to a microphone and a Russian flag.

The Slow Russian Podcast provides fantastic listening practice by producing slow, natural dialogues on a variety of topics related to Russian history and culture. Host Daria Molchanova leads the episodes and maintains a slow enough pace for beginner and intermediate students to follow along.

Each episode comes with a transcript in Russian and in English, so you’ll be able to interact with the material even if it’s slightly above your level of listening comprehension. The podcast is free to listen to, and a $20 purchase allows you to download the MP3 files as well as accompanying PDFs.

A Spoonful of Russian.

An image of a bowl of caviar and the text, "A Spoonful of Russian with Natalia."

This podcast hasn’t been updated for a few years, but the free collection of about 30 episodes could prove seriously effective for learners looking for short audio lessons. You’ll start learning Russian greetings before proceeding to learn how to pronounce different vowel sounds. There are also bonus episodes covering Russian poetry, music, and other cultural content.

Host Natalia is a native speaker of Russian and has a confident, laid-back teaching style that could appeal to many.

Russian Made Easy

Russian Made Easy is a series of 30 audio lessons that introduce 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, and those who are still getting familiar with the Russian alphabet can make use of this mini Russian reading course.

One Minute Russian

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 to ten, basic greetings, and useful words and phrases.

These lessons aren’t designed to get you fluent in Russian, but they will teach you the basics without requiring a large time commitment. The course costs $10 USD.

Speaking Russian

The Speaking Russian podcast is a long-running series with episodes that are best suited for beginner or intermediate level students. You’ll learn about different dialects and pronunciations, along with foundational vocabulary like numbers, days of the week, and more.

This podcast is available on most major streaming platforms. 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..

The Word’s Worth

A portrait-style painting of Michele Berdy, host of The Word's Worth podcast.

This podcast is brought to you by Michele Berdy, author of the book The Russian Word’s Worth. The podcast is largely in English, but Berdy touches on plenty of aspects of the Russian language as well as current events and culture.

For those interested in learning about the Russian language and how to speak it, this podcast has a high production value and could become a favorite.
 

Russian Podcasts for Intermediate Learners

Russian with Max

This podcast caters to learners at the lower-intermediate level and above. The creator, Max, aims to give learners a way to listen to interesting content that they can understand through comprehensible input. He does this through clear enunciation, speaking slowly, and giving lots of examples and synonyms.

There are also transcripts available to those interested in supporting Max with a subscription. The episodes cover a lot of interesting topics — minimalism, traveling in Russia without money, and the dark side of Russian literature, to name a few. In addition to the podcast, the website boasts other materials, such as stories in Russian, videos, and more. Read our mini-review.

Russian Podcast

The host of this site is Tatiana Klimova, a teacher of Russian and French. She started Russian Podcast in 2009, and it has since bloomed into much more than audio files. Joining the Russian Dacha club on her website grants access to hundreds of podcast episodes with transcripts, videos, a private Facebook discussion group, and regular online meetings.

The audio lessons are available for free listening, and paying members are able to access transcripts and additional features. New podcast episodes and videos are released every five days.

The Paketa Logo on a yellow background with the image of a rocketship.

Paкeтa: Simple Russia

This podcast could be a good way for intermediate learners to test themselves with material that’s entirely in Russian. In the short episodes, the host narrates a monologue on specific topics like fashion, pets, cars, and climate. The vocabulary isn’t complex, and there are full transcripts of each episode you can use to check your listening skills.

News in Slow Russian

News in Slow Russian is a great option if you want to immerse yourself in the Russian language at a pace that’s not quite native speed. The 500+ episodes come in three different levels and are categorized by topic; you can focus on stories about people, animals, nature, science, technology, and more.

There are only three episodes available for free — one at each level — and a paid subscription grants access to the entire catalog, including transcripts and translations.

Very Much Russian.

Image of a Russian doll with headphones and the text, "Очень по-русски."

This podcast stands apart because it sets out to teach Russian as it’s actually spoken with slang, jokes, idiomatic expressions, and other things you may not learn in a traditional classroom setting. You’ll also learn about food and drink, politics, and phrases that you won’t find in standard textbooks.

Intended for learners at an intermediate level and above, you can enjoy free transcripts and translations for each episode on their website. You can also donate via PayPal to download the audio files and accompanying materials..

Russian Verbs from Russia

Image of the podcast host and a Russian flag.

This all-Russian podcast has a clear focus — verbs. Each episode focuses on one or more verbs and provides information on how to use them appropriately. This is for intermediate learners that are ready for content 100% in Russian.

Episodes come with lists of key words, and transcripts are available to Patreon contributors. The Russian from Russia website also includes reading and grammar practice materials along with videos and discussion topics.

A Beginner Course of Spoken Russian

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 — and despite the course name — the series serves as a quality source of intermediate practice since it’s spoken entirely in Russian.

In each episode, 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.

Business Russian Podcast

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 learners at lower levels, but they do come with PDF transcripts to help you follow along.

The audio episodes cover cultural elements of business in Russia as well as company structures, corporate finance, and taxes. It probably won’t make much sense to use this podcast if you plan to visit Russia as a tourist, but if you’re planning to conduct business meetings or consult a Russian tax professional, this is an invaluable resource.

A Taste of Russian

With hundreds of Russian-language episodes, A Taste of Russian is an ideal podcast for intermediate learners. These episodes focus on displaying Russian as it’s actually spoken, meaning plenty of slang and casual discussion.

A paying subscription is required for access to all of the audio content, but an entire free episode is released each month, and there are more than 50 free episodes to choose from.

Зелёная лампа

The Green Lamp is a literary podcast created for children. Led by literature teacher Vladimir Natanovich Shatsev and his team of sound engineers and voice actors, the podcast features high-quality narrations of literature in Russian.

After a short introduction from Vladimir, each episode follows with actor-led narration and finishes with some follow-up questions. Though the podcast was created with children in mind, it could prove a suitable practice method for upper-intermediate learners.
 

Russian Podcasts for Advanced Learners.

SBS Русский

"SBS Russian" written in orange text.

SBS is an Australian public service broadcaster that operates a number of multilingual radio programs. The Russian iteration of this service includes frequently posted audio news stories with a focus on events related to Australia and Russia.

New episodes are uploaded daily, and there’s a massive catalog of previously released episodes to choose from.

In Russian Terms

In Russian Terms is a podcast meant for advanced learners that deals primarily with socio-political and cultural issues related to current events. You’ll learn about Americans in Russia, Russians in America, and topics related to the other post-Soviet states.

Host Elena Bilbo explores Russian attitudes toward work, money, popular movie characters, and other interesting subjects. You’ll get to hear authentic Russian as intended for upper-intermediate and advanced learners. There are 54 episodes, the last of which was uploaded at the end of 2017.

Arzamas

Radio Arzamas is a Russian-language podcast that employs experts to explore history and culture, and it’s available directly on the website or on major streaming platforms.

Each episode features a Russian expert reading a 15-25 minute lecture on themes like theater during the Renaissance and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome. This wide-ranging podcast will prepare you to debate in Russian on matters of culture and philosophy.

ПостНауки

This is a popular science podcast that explores a variety of topics.Are you interested in neurotransmitters or nuclear energy? How about color blindness or dreams? For the ever-curious learner of Russian, this podcast delivers.

Some of the episodes include videos that you can watch on the site, and episodes are also available for download from iTunes.

TACC

History buffs, this one’s for you. Episodes of the TACC podcast explore a wide range of topics, many of which are related to world history. Advanced learners will get opportunities to practice the pronunciation of names of places in Russian, learn about geopolitics from a Russian perspective, and get exposure to specialized vocabulary related to the arts, science, and culture, among other topics.

100 Most Popular Russian Podcasts

This list of Russian-language podcasts is curated by podcast site podtail. It uses its own data in combination with that from Apple to maintain an up-to-date list of the most popular Russian podcasts. If you’re at an advanced level and looking for more native-level material, this list has you covered.
 

In Closing

This list of podcasts isn’t exhaustive — there are plenty more out there, but to include every one of them wouldn’t be much help. Instead, we’ve focused on those we believe are of high quality and could provide some effective study time. Happy listening.

22 Top-Quality YouTube Channels for Learning Russian

If you’re interested in learning Russian and are one of the over 2 billion users that access YouTube every month, you’re already familiar with an incredibly potent language-learning tool.

YouTube is full of language teachers and Russian speakers creating content for free consumption. Videos can be a particularly effective way to get Russian practice because they are engaging, provide visual connections to the language, and can facilitate both listening and reading practice.

Many YouTube videos also take advantage of multilingual subtitles, which can help learners interact with Russian content that may be slightly above their level.

Whether you’re an absolute beginner who’s ready to jump into Russian or a more advanced learner looking for quality practice, we’ve got you covered — we’ve scoured the internet to find quality YouTube channels for Russian learners at every level. Use the list below to get started with your new favorite channel.

Multiple Levels

Real Russian Club

The Real Russian Club YouTube channel is the creation of Daria, a certified Russian language teacher from Moscow.

The videos on her channel cover a wide variety of topics; there are specific lessons on things like How to Respond to Apologies in Russian and 5 Russian Phrases to Say Something Is Easy, as well as playlists for shadowing, weekly reading, easy Russian, and even Russian dialogues with her four-year-old son, Roman.

All of the videos on this channel come with English subtitles, and Daria occasionally speaks in English, especially in her beginner course. The Real Russian Club Youtube channel has been around for several years, so there’s plenty of content to keep you busy.

Be Fluent in Russian

The host of this YouTube channel is Fedor, whose friendly and entertaining demeanor will likely appeal to many. There are videos that will appeal to learners at just about any level here.

Fedor does use quite a bit of English to explain the more complicated aspects of Russian that beginners may struggle with, but you’ll also be able to find videos that are completely in Russian. Videos highlighting different cultural aspects of life in Russia round out the channel nicely.

There’s also a BeFluent Russian course that may appeal to learners looking for a more structured way to study. Here’s our mini review.

Easy Russian

Part of the Easy Languages project, Easy Russian primarily features videos of interviews with people on the street. These interactions happen entirely in Russian and are a great way to get exposure to Russian as people actually speak it.

In addition to these street interviews, you’ll find videos that explicitly tackle language concepts like modal verbs, filler words, and prepositions.

While there are bilingual subtitles for all videos, this channel is probably most useful for learners at the intermediate level and beyond that are interested in hearing lots of natural Russian dialogue.

Boost Your Russian

Boost Your Russian is more than just a YouTube channel. Its website also boasts courses, graded readers, and free Russian texts with translations and narrations.

The YouTube channel is full of useful videos for learners at a variety of levels. Unless you’re an absolute beginner, you should be able to find some videos that are suitable. One unique type of video featured on this channel breaks down speeches or clips from movies with scaffolding to facilitate understanding.

The sheer variety of video types on this channel make it worth checking out for just about any learner.

Hack Your Russian

There aren’t quite as many videos to choose from here as there are with some of the other channels on this list, but beginner and intermediate-level learners should be able to find some quality study material.

Beginners will find valuable practice with letters, pronunciation or false friends, and intermediate learners will find podcast episodes as well as discussions on Russian holidays. While the material here spans multiple levels, beginners and lower-intermediate learners will get the most out of this channel.

RU-Land Club

Russian teacher Ninka Minchenko has been posting new videos to this channel for more than five years, so there are plenty to choose from. There’s a mix of English and Russian used in the videos, but the majority seem to be entirely in Russian. Many of these Russian-only videos contain Russian subtitles, but you’ll sometimes need to rely on YouTube’s auto-translate feature to see the English version.

Beginners could make use of the English-language explanations of grammar concepts, and more advanced learners could benefit from watching Ninka and her friend talk about topics like common Russian superstitions in Russian.

Russian with Nastya

Nastya’s YouTube channel is frequently updated with new content in a variety of subjects. Most of the material seems to be best-suited for learners at an upper-beginner to lower-intermediate level, though there are videos created specifically for every level from A1 to C1.

Nastya has a calm teaching style that could be a great fit for some, and she has interesting videos such as multiple-choice quizzes, lessons on conversational phrases, and videos focused on specific grammatical cases.

Beginner

Rush Into Russian

This educational Russian YouTube channel is the brainchild of Kris Amerikos, an American who lived in Russia for many years and became fluent in the language. Along with native speaker Olya, the two host videos that both focus on explicit aspects of the Russian language as well as cultural differences between Russia and the USA.

Special playlists on this channel include those titled Russian Slang, Russian Grammar, and Everyday Russian Every Day, the last of which is the largest playlist on the channel with more than 150 videos.

Antonia Romaker — Learn English and Russian Online

This channel is unique in that it teaches both English and Russian. It’s very easy to ignore the English lessons and focus on Russian, so it makes a quality resource for learners of either language.

The Russian With Passion playlist on Antonia’s channel starts with the basics and now includes nearly 200 lessons, as it’s been in production since 2013.

This isn’t the right channel if you’re looking for a bunch of Russian immersion, as most of the videos contain a fair amount of English, but there’s a lot of content here that could otherwise be worth looking through.

Weekly Russian

The videos on the Weekly Russian YouTube channel may not be the most visually engaging — they mostly display bits of text with accompanying audio narration — but beginners interested in no-nonsense lessons may find what they’re looking for.

Don’t be fooled by the ambitious title: the most recent videos are several years old. Still, if you’re looking for straightforward practice on specific, beginner-oriented subjects, you may be able to get a solid start here.

Learn Russian Language

This is probably the channel with the most personality on our list, mostly thanks to eccentric host Natasha. She sings, acts, and generally seems to have fun with everything she does.
There are plenty of videos on this channel, going back quite a few years, and new videos are still uploaded semi-regularly.

Learners just past the absolute beginner phase could benefit from the beginner course on this channel, and lower-intermediate learners could get some good input from the Russian-language cartoons. There are also interesting playlists like Russian Folk Songs and Orthodox Prayers.

Natasha is quite insistent on speaking only Russian in her videos, but most of them include Russian and/or English subtitles.

How to Speak with Irina

Irina has videos teaching a variety of languages on her channel, but the bulk of the content teaches Russian, her native language. Irina is a high-energy teacher who gives frequent encouragement to her viewers. She also uses a fair amount of English to explain concepts.

There are other channels with more content, but absolute beginners will be able to build a foundation in Russian with the clearly structured Learn Russian with Irina course on this channel.

Intermediate

R for Russian

The host of this YouTube channel has been putting out instructional Russian videos for several years, the majority of which focus on different elements of Russian grammar. Her channel is a quality place to find explanations in a mix of Russian and English, most of which come with subtitles and translations.

In addition to grammar practice, there are videos here that teach learners through music and focus on useful everyday phrases. This channel is likely most useful for learners at the beginner and intermediate levels.

Russian Grammar

If you’re interested in getting some hyper-focused grammar practice, this channel delivers. There are plenty of videos here, each focusing on a specific verb tense, word, group of words, or other aspect of Russian grammar.

Videos are narrated in English and make use of text and graphics to help support visual learners. You won’t find much in the way of entertaining content here, but for focused grammar instruction, this is the place.

Russian From Russia

With clearly narrated listening exercises, folk tales, and lessons on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, Russian From Russia provides tons of quality material for intermediate learners. Videos are in Russian with Russian subtitles, but you won’t get much in the way of English translations.

This channel could make a good option for intermediate learners looking for a mix of language lessons and exposure to Russian at an appropriate level.

Russian With Max

It’s hard not to like Max. He’s good-natured, enthusiastic about helping people learn Russian, and has a sense of humor. His videos are varied, and they take place entirely in Russian, with a few exceptions.

If you’re interested in listening practice that’s appropriate for your level, learning a bit about life in Russia, or want some focused videos on specific Russian language points, this channel is worth checking out. Keep in mind that the majority of the content will be too advanced for beginners, though all videos do have subtitles. Read our mini review.

Mary Z Russian

Mary Z creates videos aimed at intermediate learners of Russian, and her YouTube channel boasts an extensive library. You’ll find videos for practice with specific types of vocabulary, live streams, music in Russian, and even listen to her tell scary stories ASMR-style.

Mary is energetic and creates videos that are entertaining and engaging. For intermediate learners who don’t mind a bit of English in videos, this channel has a lot of potential.

Elena Jung

Elena’s YouTube channel is squarely focused on helping learners of Russian make progress with the language. In addition to lessons where she explicitly goes through Russian language points, she’s also released a number of videos dealing with the motivational aspects of learning a language, many of which were done as live streams.

Elena is an engaging teacher that speaks with enthusiasm and whose instructions are clear. Beginners will benefit from the motivational videos that tend to use a lot of English but may struggle with the many that are entirely in Russian without English subtitles. Intermediate learners should be able to interact with most, if not all, of the videos here.

Advanced

Ари говорит по-Русски

This channel is entirely in Russian and was created by Arie, a Dutchman who’s become fluent in the language. His videos reflect on his journey learning Russian and could be useful for learners interested in relating to someone else’s experience.

Other videos deal with cultural differences between Russia and the Netherlands as well as current events and some travel videos. The content here is 100% in Russian, and there are no subtitles or translations.

Mosfilm

Mosfilm is Russia’s largest film company, and their YouTube channel is full of entire movies that are free to view. Most of the movies are quite old — some are in black and white — but it’s a treasure trove for anyone interested in getting lots of exposure to Russian through classic films. Many of the films also have English subtitles.

наука

This Russian-only program is a goldmine for science-minded Russian speakers. You’ll need quite an advanced level of Russian to follow along with this content, as you’ll only get auto-generated subtitles, but the production value is high and the subjects are interesting.

Videos are roughly 30-minutes long and cover a broad range of science-related topics like quantum chemistry, railroads, the human brain, and space.

AdamThomasMoran

This channel contains content from +100500, a weekly entertainment program put on by host Maxim Golopolosov. The material is produced for native Russian speakers, so you’ll need an advanced level of Russian to keep up, but the material is engaging and meant to entertain. This could be a fun way to get lots of input.

The program has been active since 2010 and contains quite a lot of content, most of which is reactions to other videos. It’s worth noting that the sense of humor on this channel won’t appeal to everyone, especially those that prefer videos of a more serious nature.

RUTUBE

All right, this isn’t exactly a YouTube channel, but RUTUBE is widely considered to be the “YouTube of Russia.” If you’re an advanced learner, why not search for whatever interests you on a site that caters specifically to Russian speakers?

The videos are in Russian, the interface is in Russian — it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the language and culture.

In Closing

While there are an impressive number of YouTube channels for learning Russian, it isn’t the only way to learn. If you’re interested in alternative study methods, check out our posts on the best Russian podcasts, online courses, and apps.

20 Best Podcasts To Learn Italian In 2021

Finding a great Italian podcast won’t only help you improve your listening comprehension, but it will also bring Italy closer to you. And don’t worry about spending hours searching for that perfect fit—we’ve already done that for you.

Below are 23 podcasts to improve your Italian, organized by level. Most of them are 100% in Italian, and many have free transcripts. We’re sure you’ll find something that can accompany you in your Italian studies that will be both challenging and fun.

You may also want to check out our list of Italian YouTube channels, as some of them have recordings in podcast form.

All Levels

Podcast Italiano

Davide is an experienced online teacher and polyglot with a degree in translation and interpretation. His high-quality YouTube channel and podcast provide excellent Italian immersion for all levels of Italian learners.

With Davide’s podcast, you’ll get free transcripts, vocabulary notes, and translations for each episode. Plus, you can even listen to a series of unscripted conversations to take your comprehension to the next level. 

You can download the audio for all of the episodes on the Podcast Italiano website.

News in Slow Italian

Step into the excitement of Italian current events with News in Slow Italian. Though typically a paid resource, there is some free intermediate content available on Spotify.

The website publishes news at a level-appropriate speed, highlighting important grammar points and expressions in the transcripts.

Upper-level beginners can check out the “Get Up to Speed” course, which will cover the foundations needed to start the intermediate program. Read our full review for more information.

Italianpod101

Although ItalianPod101 requires a paid membership, it comes with some advantages. There are thousands of bite-sized podcast-style dialogues for beginner to advanced learners, plus lesson notes, quizzes, flashcards, and translations.

The site can be a bit confusing with all the available lesson paths and episodes, but once you find your lesson path it will probably be worth your while.

There’s a 7-day free trial when you sign up for a free account, and if you use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES”, you’ll save 25% on a subscription. Read our full review of ItalianPod101 here.

Beginner

Language Transfer

Language Transfer provides a series of introductory audio courses for several different languages — including Italian.

You won’t spend as much time immersed in the language, but you will go into depth about how the Italian language works. You’ll learn major grammar points and develop vocabulary and pronunciation. You’ll also hear the instructor, Mihalis, interact with a beginner student and correct their mistakes. The goal is to respond to prompts as if you yourself were the student.

Language Transfer can support anyone looking to understand the ins and outs of learning Italian. If you’d like to get a better sense of what it’s all about, you can read our full review.

Coffee Break Italian

The Coffee Break Languages series—available in French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Chinese, and Italian—gives you language lessons that last about the duration of a 30-minute coffee break.

Each Italian conversation has an English discussion and analysis, making it a great option if you prefer to have more context to your learning. You’ll get the most out of this series by responding to the prompts aloud. It’s also best to start at episode one if you have no background in Italian.

Extra lesson notes and video pronunciation practice are available in the Premium version. But, you’ll be fine listening to the podcasts on major streaming platforms. To learn more, check out our full review.

Intermediate

Oggi Parliamo

Join Andrea, a certified Italian teacher and CELI examiner, for a different Italian experience four days per week. Mondays you can explore the arts—opera, literature, music, history, and more. Or, tune in on Tuesdays to focus on grammar, follow current events in Italy on Wednesdays, and discuss common Italian expressions on Thursdays.

Supporting Andrea on Patreon will give you full access to the transcripts. You can also sign up for a free trial class with him on his website.

Simple Italian

In Simple Italian, Simone delivers authentic Italian immersion to your home. You’ll hear about some of his personal experiences, gain new perspectives from interviews with other Italian speakers, and get accurate, researched information about topics like sleep or the history of lesser known cities.

If you pay for a membership on his website, you’ll receive transcripts with vocabulary notes in English and German.

Italiano Bello

You might feel more like you’re listening to someone’s train of thought than a structured podcast, but Italiano Bello will give you bite-sized insights into daily life in Italy. Learn about Italian culture, language, and literature, and get some language learning tips along the way.

These 10-minute episodes provide excellent practice for intermediate learners to improve their listening comprehension.

Radio Arlecchino

Created by the University of Texas at Austin, Radio Arlecchino has 22 engaging dialogues to reinforce a series of grammar points: the subjunctive tense, past tense, imperative form, pronouns, and more.

Unfortunately there aren’t more episodes available, but the free PDF transcripts with cultural and grammar notes make this limited series an excellent resource to refer back to throughout your studies.

Keep in mind that, besides the dialogues, this podcast is mostly in English.

Italian Stories in Italian

This relatively new podcast focuses on learning Italian through natural language rather than extensive grammar explanations. Their 10- to 20-minute episodes use Italian at a slower than natural speed, but cover interesting topics like Dante Alighieri, multiple intelligences, carnivals, and festivals.

Each episode comes with a free transcript and vocabulary notes on the Online Italian Classes website.

Upper Intermediate

Quattro Stagioni

Though you can’t see her, Laura’s voice is so dynamic that you may find yourself imagining her facial expressions. She has three different series in her podcast, Quattro Stagioni:

In the main Quattro Stagioni series, you can learn about Italian culture and things that spark curiosity in Laura’s everyday life. If you’re more of a foodie, join Laura as she talks about Italian cuisine in In cucina, or travel around Italy in In viaggio. Every episode is a bite-sized piece of Italian immersion with Laura as your guide.

You can pay for a subscription to receive transcripts of every episode to help you follow along.

Pensieri & Parole

What makes this podcast stand out is the thoughtfulness that Linda puts into every episode, and the skill she demonstrates in her storytelling. She covers a wide variety of topics, from big ideas—like culture, literature, and language—to seemingly simple but important topics—like salt and hand gestures.

If you enjoy these episodes, you can buy study packages for the episodes on the Piccolo Mondo Italiano website.

Italy Made Easy Podcast

Italy Made Easy’s creator, Manu, delivers one of our highest rated Italian courses—and you can get a ton of free material from his free podcast. His lively and engaging personality will make your journey to fluency fun and easy.

Listen to these 100% Italian episodes on major streaming platforms, or sign up on his website for free access to transcripts, transcript translations, and comprehension questions. You can even download the podcast audio onto your computer or phone.

Beginners can check out his YouTube channel for more content in English.

Learn Italian with Lucrezi‪a‬

You may already know Lucrezia through her YouTube channel, but her podcast can keep you company when you need your eyes free. This channel doesn’t focus so much on grammar as it does on interesting information about the Italian language, customs, and festivals. There are also some interviews with inspiring Italian learners and polyglots to give you a boost of motivation.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the images and articles that Lucrezia provides in the description of her podcast episodes.

Ila Zed

If you like well-organized information in audio form, Ilaria has dozens of podcast episodes for you. Besides talking about grammar and culture, she also motivates you with conversations about learning Italian. Get tips about reading articles, watching movies, or creating a daily routine while immersing yourself in the language. Ilaria also shares free transcripts for each episode on her website.

Be Italiano

Stefano has over 5 years’ experience teaching Italian and now produces courses, YouTube videos and podcast episodes to take Italian students closer to fluency.

He invites a variety of guests onto his show—his friends, students, and even his mom—to discuss topics like cooking, distance learning, and what it’s like to get Italian citizenship. With these episodes you can train your ear to different Italian accents, or you can join him for his solo episodes to learn about Italian culture and holidays.

L’Italiano Vero

Inspired by All Ears English, Massimo and his team produce this podcast to make Italian simple and fun. Their entertaining, natural dialogues discuss all sorts of topics: television quiz shows, the hosts’ everyday lives, or advertisements whose influence created popular catchphrases.

They have several interactive transcripts available for free on their website, but for $1 per month you can access all of them—plus download the audio and PDF transcripts to your computer.

Arkos Academy

Arkos Academy reinforces your listening comprehension by recording the same script at a fast and a slow speed. They even provide free transcripts and comprehension questions on their website. Learn about major historical events, or listen to stories about famous people throughout history with these carefully written episodes.

Advanced

Con Parole Nostre

If you want to listen to content for native speakers but you still feel like you’re missing something, Con Parole Nostre wil bridge the gap. This trio of friends speaks in authentic, fast Italian—and they don’t speak with you in mind.

You’ll feel like you’re listening to a conversation on the streets of Italy, but there’s a difference: with Con Parole Nostre, you can follow along with a full transcript of the audio, so even if it’s challenging, you won’t get lost.

You’ll have to sign up for the newsletter to receive a free transcript with each new episode, or you can purchase past ones from the website.

Senza Rossett‪o‬

This feminist podcast dedicates each season to women of different time periods from a literary perspective: season one discusses the challenges women faced in the past; season two identifies prejudices and stereotypes that women experience today; and season three looks to the future for answers on how to establish gender equality.

Advanced learners can listen to the two hosts and authors discuss a variety of subtopics—and maybe get some ideas for their reading list.

Daily Cogito

Rick Dufer is an accomplished writer, performer, and philosopher. Even if you don’t speak a word of Italian, you’ll be impressed by the energy he brings to your ears. Listen to his podcast and improve your Italian through philosophical topics, critical thinking, literature, and pop culture. He often conducts interviews with influencers or professionals in various fields.

Scientificast

Scientificast has over 250 episodes with topics on physics, biology, and medicine. With a group of experts as your hosts—including but not limited to particle physicists, biotechnologists, and astrophysicists—you can explore hypothetical particles like axions or understand why octopuses punch other fish.

It won the Best Italian Podcast in 2016 at the Macchianera Italian Awards.

Rai Radio

From sports to music to news and more, Rai has endless content for advanced Italian learners to immerse themselves in the Italian language and culture. There are also multiple stations for kids so your family can enjoy Italian immersion together.

Final Thoughts

We hope you found something (or many things) to enjoy on this list. If you’re looking for more structure in your Italian studies, you can explore our favorite online Italian courses. Or, you can check out our list of Italian YouTube channels.

13 Top-Rated Russian Courses for All Levels

Why would you ever learn Russian unless you had to? It’s got a confusing writing system, and it isn’t that useful anyway, right? Not quite.

While the Cyrillic alphabet may be daunting in appearance, it can reliably be learned in just one or two days. The fact that many of the letters resemble those in the Latin alphabet and that the language is much more phonetic than English are two big helps.

There are also plenty of ways knowing Russian could come in handy. It’s the most widely spoken language in Europe, the official language of four countries, and a lingua franca in many more. An understanding of Russian will also open up opportunities to learn other Slavic languages more quickly, like Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Polish.

Still not convinced? How about the chance to read renowned Russian literature in its original form, take a Russian-language architecture tour in Moscow, cruise the Trans-Siberian Railway, or simply deepen your relationship with vodka? 

Whatever your reasons for learning Russian, there are plenty of courses out there that can get you speaking the language. However, no two courses are created equal, and many are simply not very good. 

To help learners find the best courses for them, we’ve gone through the extensive list of resources we’ve tried and have listed the best of the best here. Only courses that we’ve rated 3.5/5 or above (with one exception) have made the cut. There’s a little bit of everything in this list, and we hope you’ll find something that feels just right.

Sort By:

4.7/5
Price: €29/month
A super-thorough course for learners at most levels

Red Kalinka is known as the “Largest Russian School in the World” and produces several different Russian language products. Their online Russian course, Sistema Kalinka, 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 Russian course we’ve tried.

After completing the course, they claim you’ll know over 3000 words, be able to communicate in most situations, and be able to enjoy watching Russian TV. You’ll also have email access to a personal tutor who can answer any questions you may have about the material. In terms of a course that does it all, Red Kalinka’s Sistema Kalinka is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Lessons build on each other nicely
  • There are chances to practice all major language skills
  • The material is comprehensive

Cons

  • There is potential for lessons to feel monotonous after prolonged study
  • The exercises aren’t particularly exciting or unique
4/5
Price: $19.95/month
Exceptional audio lessons with plenty of chances for active participation

One of the biggest names in language learning, Pimsleur makes use of well-structured courses and conversational lessons to help absolute beginners start speaking Russian right away. Speaking right away can make it feel like you’re making real progress almost immediately. This can be great for motivation.

It’s important to note that, since such an emphasis is placed on listening and speaking skills, there’s little attention paid to grammar and the written language. You’ll likely need to supplement your studies with other resources to get a well-rounded education, but Pimsleur is a good option for aural learners that want to get speaking right away.

The subscription price model is only available to learners in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia, but the platform is accessible to learners around the world.

Pros

  • Lessons are well structured and progress logically
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the mostly audio content
  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for thorough reading and writing practice
  • The lessons can be somewhat dry
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Well-structured lessons and a clear curriculum

Babbel has a reputation for comprehensive, well-organized courses — and it’s well deserved. Ideal for learners up to an intermediate level, Babbel delivers reliable, quality lessons at a fair price.

The lessons may leave something to be desired for learners looking for the most exciting way to study, but it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking to build a solid foundation in Russian. There are plenty of explanations that accompany the lessons, and you’ll get practice in a variety of skills.

This probably isn’t the best choice for advanced learners or those that are primarily interested in conversation practice.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use
  • The course structure is well planned
  • Lessons and explanations are thorough

Cons

  • It isn’t the most exciting resource
  • It isn’t ideal for advanced learners
  • There isn’t much in the way of conversation practice
4.3/5
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations

A subscription to RussianPod101 unlocks a vast catalog of content. The lessons are fully capable of providing learners with an in-depth look at Russian vocabulary, grammar, and the cultural context in which words are used. There are lessons covering just about every imaginable situation, each full of important words and phrases.

Learners at all levels will be able to benefit from the lessons, but the bulk of the material is probably most useful for those at the beginner and intermediate stages.

It’s worth mentioning that we did find the website to be confusing to navigate and that lessons don’t always progress in the most logical manner. It’s also true that, while RussianPod101 is fantastic for improving listening comprehension, you’ll probably need to find other resources to improve your conversational skills.

Pros

  • The lesson library is huge
  • There is material for learners at all levels
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • There’s limited speaking and writing practice
  • The platform can be difficult to navigate
  • The practice opportunities aren’t very engaging
4.2/5
Price: $197
Learn Russian grammar through stories

Grammar Hero is the brainchild of Olly Richards, the creator of “I Will Teach You a Language.” As the name suggests, the focus of this course is on helping students internalize challenging grammar points. This is done with a story-based method that gets learners to make meaningful connections with the material.

Practice happens by reading the story, learning 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 error correction.

Although Grammar Hero is on the more expensive end and is only suitable for intermediate students, it’s an exceptionally fun and engaging resource. Students wanting to improve their grammar will definitely get a lot of value out of this.

Pros

  • The story-learning method could appeal to many
  • Great for learners interested in understanding difficult grammar concepts

Cons

  • It’s only suitable for learners at the intermediate level
  • It’s fairly expensive
3.8/5
Price: $69 or $99
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
A decent course for beginners

Something that might stand out about this course is that, although it’s targeted toward beginners, the accompanying materials are written entirely in Russian. The course also doesn’t attempt to teach the Russian alphabet, instead emphasizing that understanding the dialogues at the heart of the course is what’s most important.

We haven’t had the chance to fully test the Bite Size Languages courses, but they utilize comprehensible input in the form of dialogues with additional supportive materials such as transcripts, translations, and vocabulary and grammar sections. 

If you’re looking for a beginner course and aren’t interested in signing up for a recurring subscription, Bite Size Languages could be worth checking out.

Pros

  • Lessons utilize comprehensible input
  • There’s no recurring subscription
  • The course is designed specifically for beginners

Cons

  • The course doesn’t teach the Russian alphabet
  • The dialogues can become slightly boring
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A decent course with a useful social feature

Busuu is a major player in the language-learning world. It’s been around since 2008 and has helped millions of people learn languages. The Russian course on this platform contains well-structured lessons that progress in a logical order and could theoretically lead you from absolute beginner to upper intermediate.

Busuu is more affordable than many other resources, but it also doesn’t deliver in some areas like others do. Grammar explanations, for example, don’t go into great detail and can leave out some useful information.

A unique feature of the Busuu platform is the built-in social feature. With it, learners can submit and correct each other’s writing and speech. This is free to use and fills in a gap where plenty of other resources fall short.

We rated this course a 3.3/5, but this score takes into account Busuu’s Mandarin Chinese course, which is of a lower quality. The score would likely be higher if we had only rated its Russian course.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best
4.7/5
Price: €29/month
A super-thorough course for learners at most levels

Red Kalinka is known as the “Largest Russian School in the World” and produces several different Russian language products. Their online Russian course, Sistema Kalinka, 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 Russian course we’ve tried.

After completing the course, they claim you’ll know over 3000 words, be able to communicate in most situations, and be able to enjoy watching Russian TV. You’ll also have email access to a personal tutor who can answer any questions you may have about the material. In terms of a course that does it all, Red Kalinka’s Sistema Kalinka is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Lessons build on each other nicely
  • There are chances to practice all major language skills
  • The material is comprehensive

Cons

  • There is potential for lessons to feel monotonous after prolonged study
  • The exercises aren’t particularly exciting or unique
4.3/5
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations

A subscription to RussianPod101 unlocks a vast catalog of content. The lessons are fully capable of providing learners with an in-depth look at Russian vocabulary, grammar, and the cultural context in which words are used. There are lessons covering just about every imaginable situation, each full of important words and phrases.

Learners at all levels will be able to benefit from the lessons, but the bulk of the material is probably most useful for those at the beginner and intermediate stages.

It’s worth mentioning that we did find the website to be confusing to navigate and that lessons don’t always progress in the most logical manner. It’s also true that, while RussianPod101 is fantastic for improving listening comprehension, you’ll probably need to find other resources to improve your conversational skills.

Pros

  • The lesson library is huge
  • There is material for learners at all levels
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • There’s limited speaking and writing practice
  • The platform can be difficult to navigate
  • The practice opportunities aren’t very engaging

FSI and DLI

4.3/5
Price: Free
FSI
Exceptionally thorough and free but dated courses

The courses created by the Foreign Services Institute (FSI) certainly aren’t the most exciting ways to learn a language, but they work — and they’re free. The Russian course comes with a complete Russian language textbook, audio clips of native speakers, and worksheets.

Similarly, the courses created by the Defense Language Institute (DLI) are as thorough as they are dry. They have quite a bit in common with FSI courses but may place more of a focus on military terminology at higher levels.

With either resource, you’ll have to put up with a type-written document that has been converted to PDF. This could be great if you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re an intelligence agent from the ‘70s — otherwise, it’s a mild annoyance.

Pros

  • Courses are very thorough
  • These courses are completely free

Cons

  • The materials are dated and not the most exciting
  • Some of the language may not be entirely relevant for most people
4.3/5
Price: $19.99/month
befluent
A communication-focused course

We’ll say right away that we haven’t actually had a chance to test this course. We’ve checked out the BeFluent YouTube channel and were impressed with the videos, but this is our tentative rating.

The BeFluent course includes weekly group calls with the BeFluent team, a large lesson library, and a thorough curriculum. The premium course includes private coaching, for a more personalized and focused experience.

If you like the videos on the BeFluent YouTube channel and are interested in a course that comes with a community feeling, this one might be worth a closer look.

Pros

  • Weekly groups calls to discuss what you’re learning
  • A large lesson library

Cons

  • There’s no free trial
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month
$29.99/quarter
$55.99/year
Convenient, quality lessons with a touch of gamification

This app gets several things right. For one, its fun-to-use interface and activities make it one of the less intimidating, more engaging ways to get studying. Coupled with the app’s in-depth explanations, variety of exercises, and ample review opportunities, Lingodeer makes an appealing option for beginner learners.

While Lingodeer excels at helping beginners build a foundation in Russian, those that are seeking fluency will need to use other resources. It’s one of the better ones, but Lingodeer is still a gamified app and can only take you so far. Especially for practice speaking and coming up with your own sentences, Lingodeer isn’t your best option.

Pros

  • The variety in exercises keeps practice interesting
  • It’s easy and fun to use
  • Short exercises make for convenient practice

Cons

  • It isn’t useful for taking your skills beyond the intermediate level
  • There isn’t much speaking practice
  • You won’t have opportunities to come up with your own sentences
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Well-structured lessons and a clear curriculum

Babbel has a reputation for comprehensive, well-organized courses — and it’s well deserved. Ideal for learners up to an intermediate level, Babbel delivers reliable, quality lessons at a fair price.

The lessons may leave something to be desired for learners looking for the most exciting way to study, but it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking to build a solid foundation in Russian. There are plenty of explanations that accompany the lessons, and you’ll get practice in a variety of skills.

This probably isn’t the best choice for advanced learners or those that are primarily interested in conversation practice.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use
  • The course structure is well planned
  • Lessons and explanations are thorough

Cons

  • It isn’t the most exciting resource
  • It isn’t ideal for advanced learners
  • There isn’t much in the way of conversation practice
4.2/5
Price: $197
Learn Russian grammar through stories

Grammar Hero is the brainchild of Olly Richards, the creator of “I Will Teach You a Language.” As the name suggests, the focus of this course is on helping students internalize challenging grammar points. This is done with a story-based method that gets learners to make meaningful connections with the material.

Practice happens by reading the story, learning 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 error correction.

Although Grammar Hero is on the more expensive end and is only suitable for intermediate students, it’s an exceptionally fun and engaging resource. Students wanting to improve their grammar will definitely get a lot of value out of this.

Pros

  • The story-learning method could appeal to many
  • Great for learners interested in understanding difficult grammar concepts

Cons

  • It’s only suitable for learners at the intermediate level
  • It’s fairly expensive
4/5
Price: $19.95/month
Exceptional audio lessons with plenty of chances for active participation

One of the biggest names in language learning, Pimsleur makes use of well-structured courses and conversational lessons to help absolute beginners start speaking Russian right away. Speaking right away can make it feel like you’re making real progress almost immediately. This can be great for motivation.

It’s important to note that, since such an emphasis is placed on listening and speaking skills, there’s little attention paid to grammar and the written language. You’ll likely need to supplement your studies with other resources to get a well-rounded education, but Pimsleur is a good option for aural learners that want to get speaking right away.

The subscription price model is only available to learners in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia, but the platform is accessible to learners around the world.

Pros

  • Lessons are well structured and progress logically
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the mostly audio content
  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for thorough reading and writing practice
  • The lessons can be somewhat dry
4/5
Price: Free
duolingo
Fun, convenient practice in a free app

This is one of the most popular language-learning resources out there, and it’s no wonder why. Duolingo is completely free to use and offers courses in an impressive number of languages, including Russian. The activities don’t take more than a couple of minutes to complete, and they’re fun. This makes for practice that’s convenient and enjoyable. Hard to beat!

However, there are some limitations to studying with Duolingo. The audio isn’t the best you’ll find, and the lessons don’t go into great detail with explanations and examples. You also won’t have opportunities to practice creating your own sentences or many opportunities to practice speaking.

All things considered, Duolingo is a pretty great way to get some Russian exposure or casual practice with the language if you’re interested and at a low level. For much more than that, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • It’s easy and fun to use
  • It’s free 
  • Practice is convenient to start or stop at a moment’s notice

Cons

  • There isn’t much in the way of in-depth instruction
  • The audio isn’t very good
  • You won’t get to create your own sentences
4/5
Price: Freemium, $8.99/month
memrise
Official Russian courses make this more than a flashcard platform

There are two ways to study a language with Memrise. One is to use one of the many free, user-created vocabulary or phrase decks. These sometimes come with images or audio, and you’ll be able to practice them efficiently with a spaced repetition system. Beware that quality does vary from course to course.

The other way to use Memrise is to study one of the official Memrise courses. These are of a higher quality than the free courses and even include videos. Partial access to these official courses is available for free, but you’ll need to purchase a subscription to get full access to grammar lessons and extra features. Learners at lower levels will get the most out of these courses.

It’s worth noting that the full, official Memrise courses are only available through the app. The browser versions of these courses are limited.

While it does have decent official courses, Memrise is probably best used as a source of vocabulary review and for learning new words.

Pros

  • There are a lot of free courses available
  • Practice is efficient with spaced repetition
  • The official Russian course includes videos of native speakers

Cons

  • The free courses are of varying quality
  • You may need to supplement your study with other resources
3.8/5
Price: $69 or $99
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
A decent course for beginners

Something that might stand out about this course is that, although it’s targeted toward beginners, the accompanying materials are written entirely in Russian. The course also doesn’t attempt to teach the Russian alphabet, instead emphasizing that understanding the dialogues at the heart of the course is what’s most important.

We haven’t had the chance to fully test the Bite Size Languages courses, but they utilize comprehensible input in the form of dialogues with additional supportive materials such as transcripts, translations, and vocabulary and grammar sections. 

If you’re looking for a beginner course and aren’t interested in signing up for a recurring subscription, Bite Size Languages could be worth checking out.

Pros

  • Lessons utilize comprehensible input
  • There’s no recurring subscription
  • The course is designed specifically for beginners

Cons

  • The course doesn’t teach the Russian alphabet
  • The dialogues can become slightly boring
3.5/5
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Mango-languages-Logo
A beginner course with an attractive design

If you’re beyond the beginner level with Russian, Mango Languages won’t be what you’re after. There just aren’t a lot of advanced learning opportunities with this course. That said, beginners will certainly find material that’s appropriate for their level. This is because you’ll start learning usable words and phrases right away.

A slick and easy-to-use platform makes practice enjoyable, and the lessons build on each other in a practical order. Other features of the Mango Languages course are grammar and culture notes, along with drilling — lots of drilling. The frequent drilling of phrases can get you to a comfortable level with them quickly, but it can also become monotonous.

If this is a course you’re interested in, be sure to check whether you can get free access through your local library.

Pros

  • The app has a nice design and is easy to use
  • Beginners will be able to produce useful phrases quickly
  • Cultural notes are presented well

Cons

  • There isn’t much content for learners beyond the beginner level
  • Frequent drilling can become overly repetitive
  • Grammar explanations are sometimes lacking
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A decent course with a useful social feature

Busuu is a major player in the language-learning world. It’s been around since 2008 and has helped millions of people learn languages. The Russian course on this platform contains well-structured lessons that progress in a logical order and could theoretically lead you from absolute beginner to upper intermediate.

Busuu is more affordable than many other resources, but it also doesn’t deliver in some areas like others do. Grammar explanations, for example, don’t go into great detail and can leave out some useful information.

A unique feature of the Busuu platform is the built-in social feature. With it, learners can submit and correct each other’s writing and speech. This is free to use and fills in a gap where plenty of other resources fall short.

We rated this course a 3.3/5, but this score takes into account Busuu’s Mandarin Chinese course, which is of a lower quality. The score would likely be higher if we had only rated its Russian course.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best