Free Russian Language Lessons
Our four high school and college-age kids were taken by us to visit a kind Russian head-of-department at a prestigious university. He gave 30 minutes of his time to discuss with them the fact that Russian has just come up as #2 on the Strategic Languages List and how the US State Department cannot get enough competent Russian speakers, readers and writers. Yet, many Americans who wish to study Russian are far from language schools or lack the finances to engage in Russian-by-Skype. What to do?
Free Russian language lessons can get you going.
First, you must locate yourself. Are you an absolute beginner? Are you advanced and able to listen to business podcasts, or audio lectures about Dostoevsky? Either category is easy enough to locate online. It’s the intermediate folks who still need guidance, who don’t require the introductory alphabet and pleasantries, yet are not up to a professional level, who might need to sift and search through available lessons online to find something that meets their needs. But it’s possible.
Here’s a listing of some of them:
www.russianforfree.com – From the Cyrillic alphabet, to audio lessons, texts and dialogs, this site takes you from beginner to advanced. Grammar activities, Russian music videos, cartoons and comics make learning almost effortless.
http://www.russianlessons.net/ – Russian lessons, homes and apartments, audio lessons, clothes, countries, wild animals, Russian names and handwriting in Cyrillic will help to put your studies on the fasttrack. Who knew that you could have all of this for free???
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/russian/ – The BBC’s “A Guide to Russian” starts from the beginning and includes downloadable exercises, a dictionary and even a fun/simple soap opera about an English-speaking student (guy) who stays with a host family and the daughter of the family develops feelings for him, lol. You choose what happens next in the Russian plot with its ex-boyfriends and mothers involved-!
http://russian.cornell.edu/grammar/subject.htm – Cornell University’s “Beginning Russian Grammar” has excellent lists of grammatical importance: parts of speech, how to decline the ends of nouns, different cases such as genitive, dative, accusative, etc. If you’ve ever wondered about Russian patronymics (your middle name being a form of your father’s first name, different endings for a man or woman), this is your resource to look up the technical basics. Materials are used as a supplement to Cornell’s Russian language classes.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/russian-audio-books-klassiceskaa/id434136250?mt=10 – Russian: Audio Books – from UCLA. Russian fairy tales, children’s stories, and short stories and excerpts of writings from world famous Russian authors, all free on iTunes from the University of California, Los Angeles. For intermediate and advanced students. It doesn’t get much better than this!
http://web.international.ucla.edu/cwl/news/businessrussian – No, it does get better – Business Russian Podcasts, produced by UCLA’s Center for World Languages, offers a 7-part audio series covering topics in corporate finance and structure, supply and demand, personnel and taxes. “For those who want to learn Russian Business vocabulary and cultural/nonverbal aspects of Russian Business communication in order to have successful business relations with Russian partners or open a new business in Russia.” For intermediate and advanced students. Be still, my heart.
http://learnrussian.rt.com/ – Russia Today offers lessons starting with the alphabet, then lessons, tests and more vocabulary. Helpful everyday themes include doctor visits, home repair, personal appearance and personality. If you look at the bottom of the page, Russia Today also offers free Russian-language documentaries with English subtitles— be selective and you can find a handful of decent ones.
https://www.livelingua.com/course/fsi/Russian_FAST_Course – Offered by the US Foreign Service Institute (State Department), “Russian: An Active Introduction” has two parts. In their words, “the F.A.S.T (Familiarization And Short Term) course is designed to prepare students for life in Russia (and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union) by giving them the necessary basic skills in the language. We want you to leave here with the ability to face, without hesitation, any number of situations you will encounter in day-to-day life in those cities where you will live, work and visit.” It’s mostly listening and speaking, with a bit of reading and writing thrown in, but not emphasized as much. Very practical: answering phone calls, reading street and metro signs, getting everyday stuff done in Russian. E-books and audios come with the course.
https://www.livelingua.com/course/fsi/Russian_Active_Introduction_-_Student_Text – Another part to the Foreign Service Institute’s free offerings is “FSI – Russian Active Introduction – Student Text”. Unfortunately, the audio seems to be missing, but there is an audio-book, all in simple Russian, with a series of carefully-built sentences in Cyrillic which you can mix-and-match for real-life situations. There is no English translation, so this is a good review if you are at a beginner-plus or intermediate level.
http://www.alphadictionary.com/rusgrammar/ – Alpha Dictionary’s “Russian: An Interactive Online Reference Grammar” is a free source from the Lexiteria Corporation (a U.S. custom translation company) and includes an easy-to-follow, print-based guide to the Russian parts of speech. (Also available for other languages.) Broken down into numerous categories from the alphabet and pronunciation to verb endings, reflexive and motion verbs, the noun case system, personal pronouns, Russian prepositions in various cases and all of the other tricks of the trade. Very well-organized in written form.
https://www.livelingua.com/project/peace-corps/Russian/ -The Peace Corps’ Kazakhstan Russian Language Lesssons provides 14 lessons with downloadable transcripts. Very practical, the lessons also teach students how to agree and disagree, communicate personal preferences and express themselves in a courteous manner.
Let’s face it: there’s something for everyone who wants to learn Russian language— for free, at their own pace and in their own time. At some point, it will be helpful to be around native Russian speakers who converse on a level much higher than your own (for instance, not children with children), but until that time, hope this list helps.
Happy Friday, everyone!
—————Tags: everyday Russian phrases, free Russian language lessons, preparing for life in Russia, Russian audio stories online, Russian explained clearly, Russian fairy tales online, Russian for children and adults, Russian-English dictionary online