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Study the Russian language with top online videos

By Jon, published on 18/04/2019 Blog > Languages > Russian > The Best Online Videos to Learn Russian

Where the Slavic language family is concerned, Russian may be considered the mother of them all.

Indeed, as the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Russian is a language spoken by more than 260 million people worldwide. Its influence is such that it is included among the 6 official languages spoken in international organizations such as the UN and UNESCO.

Casting aside the sinister overtones of the communist era and the bleakness of Siberia, the Russian language is taking its rightful place on the global stage. For language lovers everywhere, especially in our current political and economic climate, this is a tongue that should not be neglected.

So numerous are Russian immigrants in London that the city is jokingly referred to as Moscow-on-the-Thames and Londongrad.

Indeed, throughout the city and southeast England, you will find many Russian schools dedicated to teaching the language and culture of Russia.

That’s great news for parents of school-aged children who wish their progeny to learn a second language but what about those who wouldn’t fit very well at a kindergarten desk? What about adults who want to learn Russian?

Traditional methods of language learning are all fine and well; of course, you would stand to learn a lot from taking a Russian language course or learning Russian from a tutor.

However, since the advent of digital technology, teaching models have continued to evolve, going beyond the purely academic linear framework of instruction-homework-exam. These technological advances have influenced the way this language is taught in language schools and have broadened the fields of opportunity for any avid language learner.

Among all the new Russian learning materials such as online courses, podcasts or e-learning Russian language applications, there is a multitude of instructional videos that, in most cases, will cost you only the time to watch them.

As a way of making the Russian language – her grammar and vocabulary widely available, video platforms cannot be beat!

Superprof now goes into detail, describing the advantages of learning Russian via video, how to make the most of these video presentations and the best videos to learn Russian from/with!

The absolute Must-see YouTube channels to learn Russian

People from the eastern bloc who were more than 20 years old at the end of the USSR are fluent in the Russian language. There are many similarities between Slavic languages such as Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian.

From chilling on your latest Netflix binge to loading Russian language videos on YouTube only takes a mouse click.

In fact, we daresay that the ease of effort getting started learning Russian with videos is not even in the same league as dragging out ponderous volumes of the good old Russian books!

Such tomes would be enough to turn anyone off from language learning today, when glitzy video productions are available for streaming!  

Indeed, while some swear by textbooks, podcasts or private Russian courses, increasingly, learners are placing their faith in technology. Such a difference in preferred learning matter actually makes quite a bit of sense!

When you think of the varied learning styles – those who learn best by listening, others who absorb more material by reading and, finally, those who are kinesthetic learners: they need movement to accompany their lessons…

Nobody is purely one type of learner; one may be predominantly visual with latent auditory tendencies or highly kinesthetic with visual traits.

No matter what your predominant learning type is, such videos offer something to every learner. You can see the words on the screen, listen to them being spoken and write them down.

By playing and replaying YouTube videos until you have at least grasped the material in those segments, you are in fact giving yourself multiple exposures to the Russian language. Many students aver that, working in this manner, it is much more engaging and exciting to learn a foreign language.

But don’t take our word for it; you can try it out for yourself! Why not check out:

Weekly lessons with Natacha

Natacha has a very popular YouTube Channel called Weekly Russian. Through the course of her videos, she keeps things simple, giving bite-sized lessons that build on what has already been reviewed.

Also, unlike traditional language classes that hammer on grammar, she incorporates Russian grammar facts into her spoken Russian lessons.

Natacha’s video series is perfect for you if you want to:

  • Enrich your vocabulary: the videos are themed so that you might review vocabulary related to greetings, getting around and conducting transactions
  • To acquire new cultural knowledge in gastronomy, on Russian society, or the differences between Russia and western societies with videos such as “the meal of the day in Russia”, “the schooling of a child in Russia” and Russian poetry.
  • Pronunciation of those tricky, guttural sounds is expounded on at length in the video titled “Russian accents”.
  • If you’ve bought passage on the Trans-Siberian Express – a dream of a train journey!, you may need to focus on Natacha’s “Essential Phrases for Travellers”
  • What’s in a name? Another of the channel’s hosts, Natalia unravels the mystery of Russian names in several videos; one explains last names and another details the use of patronymics – how the father’s name+suffix = middle name (also called ‘second name’)
    • Yet another covers three common mistakes one should never make with Russian names!

Learning Russian can be easy fun! With these weekly exercises, you’ll be able to make sure and constant progress in your goal of speaking Russian.

If you like the Russian language and want to study it online, this is a good place to start: they offer free basic to advanced courses, texts with audio, grammar, activities and much more.

There are videos on very specific topics of the Russian language but also on essential and very concrete vocabulary.

Russian Pod101

RussianPod101 is a YouTube companion to the paid online courses on their website. These videos are short, 3-minute mini-classes organised into separate playlists; one is dedicated to the alphabet, another to listening practice and the third, to vocabulary.

These are great short videos from which you stand to gain a lot of Russian language skills, but be ready to bear with constant ads encouraging you to subscribe to the paid course on their website!

In their videos you’ll learn about:

  • The Cyrillic alphabet
  • New words
  • Nouns and personal pronouns
  • Prepositions
  • How to speak and pronounce both simple and complex Russian words

If you’re the type of student who has never felt completely at home in a classroom (don’t worry if you are, it happens more often than you might think!), surfing through these video files might just provide you with the language learning tool you need to succeed.

These videos also have the particularity of being realized in Russia – for a large part of them – and constitute, therefore, a way to discover Russian culture in everyday life through the eyes of a local.

All of these videos centre on the listening-based learning method to help English-speaking students to become familiar with Russian words.

Apart from vodka, why should one learn Russian? Paying attention to pronunciations in Russian songs allows you to progress in the language.

Be Fluent

Another great YouTube channel to get started learning Russian is Be Fluent in Russian.

Among all of the great facets of this channel is its message: the host/teacher, Fedor Shirin envisions a world with no language barriers and no stereotypes. Naturally, the best way to achieve that goal is to introduce others to your language and culture. Master Fedor does so most engagingly!

Other selling points of this channel are that it is more geared toward the hipper crowd: those between 14 to 18 years old.

Naturally, anyone wishing to learn Russian may partake of these videos but, with titles like ‘Cool Russian Words‘ and lessons revolving around gaming and sports, it is clear to see that this channel hopes to entice young learners.

Its library comprises of close to 450 videos, meaning that you have plenty to learn from this channel!

Honourable Mentions

These channels are a bit disorganised and maybe don’t present things quite as well as those above. Nevertheless, there is value to be had from them and, who knows? Maybe they will contain the nugget of knowledge you missed on the other channels!

Amazing Russian lists nearly 200 videos, all targeted at university level Russian learners. If you’ve moved beyond the basics, this might be a good channel for you!

Easy Russian boasts 245 videos and the host, Maria, is funny and energetic. However, she does tend to speak rather fast so, if you were looking to challenge your listening skills, this would be a great channel to do so.

Learn Russian Language (293 videos) doesn’t trifle with introductions or icebreakers; these videos jump right into Russian vocabulary. This could be a great companion to your classroom Russian lessons.

Real Russian Club is hosted by Daria, a certified Russian teacher based in Moscow. Her channel offers up 220 videos with new uploads every week. Daria addresses all manner of learners from beginner to intermediate; she also hosts a podcast and maintains a website; you could even take free Russian lessons via email!

Learn Russian.org (147 videos) confession time: I got hooked on the very first video where random people were trying to read and pronounce Russian words. Clicking through further offerings, I found them clear, easy to understand and follow. If you are a beginner, this would be a great series to start your learning adventure with.

With the advent of YouTube, tutorials for all types of subjects became more accessible.

Today, even people who had no hope of higher education, let alone the opportunity to learn such a complex language as Russian may turn to online learning channels; educational outlets that have emerged as valuable learning tools through which more and more people are experiencing real linguistic success.

Won’t you join their ranks? 

Judging by the number of subscribers to each of these channels, Russian neo-speakers, future expatriates, anyone planning a trip to Russia has already partaken of types of videos, from those that are adapted to beginner level students through the intermediates and on to more fluent ones.

Help yourself with an English-Russian dictionary if you need too, or check out online translation websites.

Watch movies in Russian to enrich your vocabulary

Russian is the 6th most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, English, Arabic and Spanish. By the latest available statistics, Russian is spoken by 2.5% of the global population – that’s millions of people!

Watching feature films from the 7th Russian art is a boon for learners and real work for our brains. Today facilitated with the advent of the internet, it is much easier, much cheaper to realize this project than to go to the Moscow cinema.

Got popcorn? Got Netflix? Time to pick the best Russian movies! Get your popcorn and heat up your Netflix; Russian films are headed your way! Source: Pixabay Credit: Jeshoots

Why It is a Good Idea to Watch Russian Films

Aside from the obvious reasons – exposure to the language and practising your listening skills, films made in Russia tell stories about issues facing the Russian people today.

Unless you are learning Russian simply to chalk another mark onto your language prowess tally sheet, most likely you are learning this language to make some use of it – meaning that you intend to have some dealings with Russia and the Russian people.

It is exceedingly important to understand cultural mores before having any dealings with the people they represent.

The stories people tell are a good indication of the values their society embraces and lives by. Thus, seeing these stories unfold and discerning the underlying cultural clues can go a long way toward helping non-native Russian speakers understand what is and isn’t acceptable when they finally achieve their dream of visiting that country… or living there! 

But, the idea need not go so deep.

Watching Russian films, you are treated to a front-row seat, witnessing how people eat and drink; love, hate and walk the fine line between those extremes. You get to watch protagonists wrestle with their country’s mores and their personal morals, all in the language you have dedicated yourself to learn.

Here are a few films to get you started. Once your passion for Russian cinema ignites, you’ll discover the thrill of the search for titles for yourself!

Misha Versus Moscow

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has just led his country through a war with Russia. Amid calls for his resignation and the scorn heaped on him by allied nations, how can he see to Georgia’s future while finding common ground with Moscow?

Finding Babel

Writer Isaac Babel exposed the reality of life under a totalitarian regime; texts that were considered subversive in the late 1930s. His works inevitably led to his arrest and execution.

In this documentary film, Andrei Malaev-Babel continues his grandfather’s odyssey by examining today’s Ukrainian-Russian conflicts, which have their roots in history.

Unlike the standard documentary format, this film weaves elements of fiction into the facts; Andrei’s search is most beautifully illustrated through animated sequences that adroitly ferry spellbound viewers between ethereal fantasy and harsh reality.

A Bitter Taste of Freedom

Russian journalist Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya made a name for herself reporting on Russian political events; she also covered the second Chechen War. In fact, she was mostly the only Russian journalist to speak for the victims of that war.

So persistent was she, so diligent in her reporting on the atrocities and the shadiness of government doings that she was permanently silenced in October 2006.

Interesting fact: nearly 20 years before the making of this documentary, which includes conversations she had with her former university professor and interviews she conducted, another documentary was made of her husband, Sasha, who is also a journalist. That film was titled A Taste of Freedom.

Birobidzhan

It’s no secret that Jewish people were persecuted even ahead of the Second World War. In Russia, everyone of Jewish faith was remanded to the Pale of Settlement, a region in western Russia from which those people could not migrate out. In order to exploit that region’s riches, a planned community for Jewish people was established in the eastern part of Russia, on the Chinese border.

However, the inhabitants of Birobidzhan did not welcome the influx of ethnicity, even though Stalin himself promoted the settlement as a haven for Jews. Now, Guy-Marc Hinant, a Belgian filmmaker, takes us to that city, to talk with descendants of the original Jewish settlers.

While history gives us a tale of Jewish salvation, through these narrations, we’re treated to a story that is vastly different.

Naturally, there is far more to Russian cinema than documentaries.

You might also like these titles:

  • Loveless: a couple in the throes of divorce must join forces to find their missing 12-year-old son
  • The Student: Obsessed with Christianity, this student alienates everyone around him with his passionate discourse on the subject
  • Leviathan tells the story of one man’s struggle to fight and expose corruption in his town, but how to do that when it is the mayor who is most corrupt?
  • Elena: a committed housewife finds herself at a crossroads after a chance meeting. Will the situation actually get desperate?
  • Leto: when a young musician befriends an older one, he never expects to fall in love with his mentor’s wife…

These stories are all enticing whether you’re learning Russian or not! However, getting such intimate glimpses into Russian life, the conflicts and indecisions make it worth one’s while to learn that language, if only to understand these tales without having to read subtitles.

You may also think about applications to learn Russian.

RuTube

Equivalent to YouTube but in Cyrillic, Rutube is a Russian platform for online video broadcasting that offers a colossal amount of content in the language of Tolstoy.

Very popular in Russia, this site is an opportunity to discover the most viewed videos of Russia, parts of Russian programs or rediscover our favourite cat videos in their Eastern European version: all great ways to improve your language skills.

Studio MosFilm

Developed to counter the plans of hackers and illegal downloading, Studio MosFilm is a Russian site offering the viewing of more than 200 films from the works of this former Russian film studio.

The Youtube channel of tfaufau

This youtuber made his channel “tfaufau” a kind of Netflix for lovers of short films, movies and Russian TV series.

An opportunity for all learners to drop the Game of Thrones, Sense 8 and others to focus primarily on learning Russian thanks to movies and the cinema.

In their program we find:

  • 12 episodes subtitled in English of the old series of Russian espionage of 1973: the “17 moments of spring”. A way to understand the end of the second world war from the Russian side and a great way to gather Russian vocabulary.
  • 15 episodes of the Russian series “The interns” a comedy that should make our Russian neo-speakers laugh.
  • Animation films translated into Russian as “A hello to the monkey”.
  • Russian feature films such as “What Men Speak About”, “Radio Day” or “1814”.

Russian translators online can help you if needed!

Daily Russian on TV with the best television Channels

Podcasts on the Russian language are more and more numerous. Learning Russian allows you to acquire additional skills to sell in the job market.

You’re tired of watching Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey all day long on your same TV channels? Try out a great solution: turning to Russian TV news channels to get your news and grow a habit of listening to the Russian language spoken by native speakers.

Thus, far from being confined to regional, national and international news from the American point of view, you can discover the Russian version of information while improving your conjugation, your grammar or your vocabulary.

Your pronunciation will not suffer from this adjustment to your routine; on the contrary: listening will allow the ear to become familiar with the intonations, the accents and Russian idiomatic expressions.

Perviy Kanal

You can find it easily and by free online streaming. Perviy Kanal is the descendant of the country’s historical chain. This channel, now privatized in part, uses large production facilities for its TV programs and the broadcasting of films. It is one of the country’s most popular channel internationally.

Russia TV – Live

Here we widen a little more the field of possibilities of the Russian learner with the Russian state television group VGTRK. On the menu is more than 7 Russian TV channels that are available including:

  • Russia 1, 2, 24.
  • Karousel.
  • RTR.
  • Moscow 24.
  • Vesti FM.

With these different channels, you’ll get a broad range of subjects and accents: this is important if you want to vary your vocabulary and become fluent in Russian or progress to an advanced level.

NTV

As private channels require no live broadcast, streaming is available on the site. On the other hand, for the less eager of you, programs are available in replay to improve your level of Russian.

It is possible to find Russian programs podcasts if you can’t follow the direct news.

So, if you want to speak Russian but don’t wish to take a Russian language course, you’ve got several choices. If you’ve just started to learn the Russian language, then start with short YouTube videos that will teach you about the Cyrillic Russian alphabet, words and phrases, and Russian grammar, all in a progressive manner. Only then should you turn to movies to improve your Russian pronunciation.

Once you’ve passed basic Russian and gotten to an intermediate level, try out news channels to learn about Russia while improving your listening skills.

You could also find lessons on Superprof! We have thousands of Russian tutors across the UK. Find Russian course London wide, in Cardiff or around Birmingham.

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