Online LearningForeign Language7 Best Online Russian Courses to Master the Language Easily

7 Best Online Russian Courses to Master the Language Easily

Are you interested in learning Russian? Do you often dream of going to Russia and stepping on the Red Square? If so, it’s high time to learn the Russian language.

Though learning a new language is a lot of fun, the only issue is that it takes ages to learn. Languages need countless hours of learning to reach any level of fluency and competency. Some courses often lack structure, or the instructors don’t teach well, wasting your time in the process.

St.Petersburg. my favorite Russian city
Saint Petersburg. my favorite Russian city

To solve this problem across the board, I will present my top 7 list of the best Russian language courses in this post. They will help you achieve fluency and become a proud speaker of the Russian language! You can also learn anytime, anywhere according to your schedule.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to choose a good course that fits your learning style.

Disclaimer: This post from Victory Tale contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you purchase Russian courses through my links. I will use this income to create better content for all visitors.

1-on-1 Russian Courses

First and foremost, I believe the best way to learn Russian online is through 1-on-1 tutoring. You will learn individually with a professional teacher who is a native speaker from Russia.

These courses have several benefits, including

  • You can select your tutor and class time.
  • Pay hourly. You can pause the course when you are busy.
  • Live-online learning thus provides a similar experience to an in-person private Russian course. You can ask every question you have in real-time.
  • Customized curriculum: Your instructor will create a personalized course that fits your needs and learning style. For example, you can choose to focus only on Russian grammar or pronunciation. Hence, the Russian lessons will fit students of all levels.

I think the only drawback it has is the course could be pricey. Learners will pay approximately $15-$30 for each hour of tutoring.

Besides Russian, you can learn other languages on these platforms, including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and many more.

1. Italki

Italki provides 1-on-1 Russian language tutoring for all levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) with a native speaker. With 600 teachers in its network, you can find an affordable tutor to help you learn Russian faster and more effectively.

Italki, another great platform to learn Russian
Italki, another great platform to learn Russian

Course Details and Pricing

Unlike Live Lingua, you will have no class coordinator to assign a tutor for you. Instead, you will choose your own tutor based on their profiles, popularity, reviews, experience, and short video introductions.

Italki allows learners to filter the list of teachers to find the best person they want to take a trial lesson with him/her. Uniquely, Italki lets you pick a community tutor who is a native Russian speaker but not a certified teacher.

Choosing your personal Russian teacher on the Italki platform
Choosing your personal Russian teacher on the Italki platform

This feature is beneficial for those who want to learn Russian informally or focus more on speaking colloquially. However, I believe taking Russian classes with certified Russian teachers is a better idea, especially for beginners.

The pricing for any online Russian class depends on the tutor you pick. Normally, you will pay higher for professional teachers (starting around $10) than community tutors (starting around $6.)

Italki’s trial lessons are not free. You will pay discounted hourly rates of that tutor for the 30-minute trial lesson. Furthermore, not all teachers provide trial lessons, and you can take only 3 trial lessons in total.

After you are satisfied with the learning experience, you can buy a single lesson or a lesson package. The latter comprises several lessons and is normally cheaper than buying a lesson individually. However, its validity lasts only for 6 months. You have to take all classes before those lessons expire.

As of 2021, you have to learn through the Italki app. Their site is only for scheduling purposes.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Inexpensive rates compared to peers.
  • Informal Russian language training from native speakers
  • 600 Russian teachers and community tutors to select directly
  • Additional features on the app are excellent for learning Russian.

Cons

  • No free trial lessons
  • No last-minute cancelation (Cancel 24 hours in advance)
  • The lesson package expires after 6 months.

2. Wyzant

Though not an exclusive language learning platform, Wyzant provides 1-on-1 live online classes for numerous languages, including Russian. Wyzant will connect you with an experienced language coach that suits your preference.

Every tutor will work one-on-one with students to develop proficiency in Russian and help students successfully go through the toughest of Russian language exams.

If you plan to take the TORFL (Russian’s TOEFL) or prepare for the final exam of the Advanced Russian class in college, Wyzant is the best solution you could have.

Wyzant, an excellent platform to find a Russian tutor.
Wyzant, an excellent platform to find a Russian tutor.

Course Details and Pricing

Like Italki, Wyzant allows you to find and select Russian tutors on your own. Many of Wyzant’s tutors are of high caliber. Some even have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in Linguistics from elite universities of Russia such as Moscow University.

However, unlike Italki, you cannot create a highly-detailed filter to screen out unsuitable tutors. Hence, it will take some time before figuring out who is the right tutor that fits your preferences.

You can also select “Background Check on File” for the screeners to display only Russian tutors who have passed the optional background check.

Choosing tutor on Wyzant
Choosing a tutor on the Wyzant platform

In my opinion, suppose you take online classes, the background check of the tutor is not always necessary. Still, it might be crucial if you choose an in-person class that Wyzant also offers.

In case the background of the Russian tutor you are interested in has not been checked, you can ask Wyzant to do it for you by paying small extra fees.

After finishing the selection process, you can start the first Russian lesson with any tutor for free after sending him or her a message. If you like the learning experience, you can create a class schedule, make a payment and start learning.

At Wyzant, tutors can set their own hourly rates and policies, so you might be able to cancel the class at the last minute. However, the average pricing of language lessons is more expensive than other platforms, starting at $30 per hour.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers both online and in-person tutoring
  • Background check available if you have any concerns
  • The first class is free.
  • Many tutors are of high caliber. Thus, Wyzant is probably the best tutoring platform for test prep.
  • A last-minute cancelation is possible (depending on each tutor’s policy.)

Cons

  • Much higher hourly rates compared to peers.
  • Most tutors work in the U.S. timezone.

3. Preply

If you are interested in 1-on-1 online Russian classes, Preply is another platform that is worth consideration. The platform provides an opportunity for students to learn Russian with certified teachers.

Preply
Preply

Course Details & Pricing

The platform is similar to Wyzant, as it does not restrict itself to language learning. However, you can create a highly-specified filter to screen out tutors like Italki.

Each instructor will have a video introduction, highly-detailed profile, review, popularity, and hourly rates. Within the same dashboard, you can choose the right tutor effortlessly.

Learning Russian with Preply
Finding Russian tutors with Preply

The trial lesson for Preply is not free. You will need to pay full price for it. However, if you are not satisfied with the tutor, you can either request a refund or ask Preply to reschedule a trial lesson with another tutor.

Hourly rates at Preply are lower than most peers. You can take an excellent Russian class at $15 per month or even less. Thus, Preply is an affordable alternative for most learners.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable hourly rates
  • Create a highly-specified filter to screen out unsuitable tutors with ease
  • 1,350+ Russian tutors on the network, which is unarguably one of the largest in the 1-on-1 tutoring space.
  • Preply verifies all tutors’ profiles so that you can select tutors without worries.

Cons

  • The trial lesson is not free.
  • Their website is a bit clunky.

Self-Study Russian Language Courses

Next, I will discuss the best self-study Russian courses. These could be video courses, audio courses, or anything in between. All courses are similar in essence that you will learn mostly on your own.

4. Pimsleur

Pimsleur is a company with decades of experience teaching languages, tracing back to the legacy of Paul Pimsleur back in the 60s.

Though the company’s medium of teaching is changing over time (from books to DVDs to apps), their core approach is still unchanged since the late Pimsleur.

Pimsleur - one of the best online Russian courses
Pimsleur

Course Details & Pricing

Pimsleur’s approach to language learning is unique. The curriculum is essentially audio lessons with interactive quizzes. The course will focus on building students’ listening and speaking skills.

Below is what you will get inside the course:

  • 30-minute core lessons (30 lessons in total for each level)
  • Digital flashcards and interactive quizzes to increase your vocabulary bank
  • Speaking practices and role-play exercises to improve conversation skills

Each lesson will force you to think in Russian. In my opinion, this approach is excellent. You will get used to Russian gradually and finally speak Russian naturally like a native in no time.

Learning Russian on the Pimsleur platform
Learning Russian on the Pimsleur platform

However, Pimsleur’s approach almost ignores grammar and writing in the course. You will learn mostly through listening. If you are interested in Russian grammar explanations, you need to find other courses elsewhere.

I would say this method is subjective. Not everyone will like it. Nevertheless, if you want to improve your speaking skills, you should give it a try.

In terms of pricing, you can select between buying the course or subscribing. Buying each level of Russian courses costs $150 and provides lifetime access. If you buy all five levels, the bundle will cost $575 (approximately 20% discount.)

On the other hand, the subscription costs $19.95 monthly. I believe the subscription is a better alternative since you don’t need to pay lump sums. If you are an ardent learner, you can complete all five levels in a year or less, saving hundreds of dollars in the process.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent for developing Russian speaking, listening and real-world conversation skills
  • Learn anytime, anywhere with Pimsleur web and mobile app
  • Beautiful images and additional information to enrich cultural understanding
  • 30-day money-back-guarantee for course purchases and 7-day free trial for subscription

Cons

  • This online course barely touches writing and grammar rules.
  • More expensive than other self-paced Russian courses

5. RussianPod101

RussianPod101 from Innovative Language is my favorite online Russian course. I took this course myself and felt the need to recommend it to my audience.

Undoubtedly, this course is one of the best any online school can offer. If you want to learn Russian online efficiently without breaking the bank, this course is for you.

RussianPod101 - one of the best online Russian courses and my favorite
RussianPod101

Course Details and Pricing

RussianPod101 teaches Russian through video and audio lessons. All lessons could be separated into two groups, the core curriculum and supplementary materials.

All lessons in the core curriculum will be in podcasts. Each of them focuses on a particular real-world conversation that you can face in Russia, such as going to a bank, eating a restaurant, and many others.

Learning Russian with RussianPod101
Learning Russian with RussianPod101 (Audio lessons)

They will follow the same structure as below.

  • Introduction (There will be two speakers. One is a native speaker from Russia with a perfect accent, while another person is an English speaker, presumably from America.)
  • Main dialogue related to the topic
  • The native speaker will explain vocabulary and grammar in detail.
  • The English speaker will ask the questions.
  • Both will discuss Russian customs, cultures, and traditions associated with dialogue.

Each lesson will be no more than 20-minute long, but that’s not all. RussianPod101 has additional features that support your learning, including

  • In-depth lesson notes
  • Line-by-line audio dialogue in texts
  • Lesson quizzes
  • Speech recognition tools to assist you in speaking Russian

That’s just the core curriculum. However, RussianPod101 has added hundreds of supplementary audio and video lessons about Russian words (even Slang), Russian grammar, and other exercises to improve your comprehensive language skills.

These could help you learn Russian by teaching you miscellaneous topics that the core curriculum does not cover. The best thing is that the RussianPod101 is very active in creating new content. Commonly, they will add new content every few days.

Newest Lessons
Newest Lessons

Furthermore, you also get flashcards, a vocabulary slideshow, an audio dictionary, and other tools. Based on my experience, these are beneficial for learning Russian.

You could also get a personal tutor, where you can ask questions anytime. The tutor will add even more assignments, including speaking and writing exercises, and grade them for you. This feature will eliminate the weakness of a self-study language course.

In terms of pricing, RussianPod101 now has three plans for learners to choose from:

  • Basic – starting at $4 per month
  • Premium- starting at $10 per month
  • Premium Plus – starting $23 per month

The above pricing is for a 2-year plan. If you enroll in shorter periods (i.e., 1-month), the pricing will be more expensive.

RussianPod101 Pricing
RussianPod101 Pricing

I don’t recommend the basic plan, as you will only get lesson notes and complete course access but no other features. The plan you should choose is the Premium plan because you will get all of the excellent features that help you master Russian with ease (except a personal tutor.)

Premium Plus will add a personal tutor to your plan, along with more speaking and writing exercises. If you want to learn Russian comprehensively, subscribing to this plan is a great idea.

However, I don’t think it is that necessary. Language lessons and resources in the Premium plan are already excellent for self-studying.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Inexpensive comprehensive Russian learning program, providing a good value for money.
  • Russian language lessons in the core curriculum are highly entertaining and useful (Extremely clear grammar explanations.)
  • Excellent lesson notes to practice Russian grammar and vocabulary.
  • Highly-detailed lessons on Russian culture
  • Lots of resources and courses to choose from (Hundreds of hours of content)
  • Learn anywhere, anytime by using the web or mobile app
  • New content every few days
  • Extremely generous 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Not well-structured. You can get lost and may not know where to start, mainly because of immense language learning resources provided by RussianPod101.

6. Red Kalinka

If you are serious about learning Russian, why don’t you learn with industry experts? Red Kalinka is an online Russian language school.

Unlike others in this list, they don’t teach other languages besides Russian. All the teachers are native speakers from Russia. Thus, you can be certain that the course will be of high-quality.

Red Kalinka, one of the best Russian courses
Red Kalinka

Course Details and Pricing

You will learn mostly from videos. There are more than 160 videos in the course. Each one is 30-minute long. Thus, the total length is around 80 hours.

Moreover, there are other resources that you can use to improve your skills, including 280 audio recordings, 125 grammar tables, and 400-page learning materials (exercises, texts, dialogues, and many more.) The course will help you develop every skill simultaneously.

The course will start from the beginning (Russian alphabet) until you know more than 3,000 Russian words and phrases. You can skip to the intermediate level if you think you already understand the basics.

If you get stuck (I am sure you will), you can ask your personal tutor directly. The instructor will respond within 24 hours.

You need to subscribe to Red Kalinka to access the course. The pricing starts at 29 EUR or approximately $35 per month.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-quality video courses created by experienced instructors
  • Learn all language skills (Reading, Speaking, Writing, Listening, Vocabulary, Grammar)
  • Tons of content to self-study
  • It is unarguably one of the most comprehensive online Russian courses.
  • A personal tutor is a plus.

Cons

  • At $35, Red Kalinka’s Russian language course is probably the most expensive in the market.

7. FluentU

FluentU is unarguably one of the best ways to learn Russian for many because it is so entertaining to learn on this platform.

You will learn Russian by watching real-world video content, including music videos, movie trailers, news, and many more. You can think of FluentU as Netflix of the language learning industry.

Learning Languages in an entertaining way with FluentU
Learning Languages in an entertaining way with FluentU

Course Details & Pricing

All FluentU videos come with interactive subtitles. You can click on each word to view its in-context translation and example sentences. Dialogues are also provided to help you completely understand the Russian language in the conversation.

FluentU dialogues in Chinese (applicable to Russian as well)
FluentU dialogues in Chinese (This format is applicable to Russian as well)

Thus, you will learn the language and enjoy the videos along the way.

Apart from the videos, FluentU also provides interactive quizzes that will test your knowledge of Russian vocabulary.

The pricing starts at $20 per month. You will be able to access content in all languages on FluentU besides Russian.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-quality video content
  • Entertaining to learn
  • Excellent method to learn thousands of Russian vocabulary and improve listening comprehension skills
  • Learn comfortably on the web and mobile
  • 14-day free trial

Cons

  • The course does not teach all Russian skills.
  • Pricey

Free Online Russian Learning Resources

Duolingo – One of the full online Russian courses that you can access completely free. The course gives you tons of Russian grammatical exercises. The app is handy for mobile learning.

Russian For Free – Russian For Free offers various free resources for Russian language learners.

Live Lingua – You don’t need to buy tutoring hours to access these excellent learning materials.

Learn Russian – A decent free Russian course by RT, the state media of Russia. However, their website is super clunky.

Russian For Everyone– A website that provides a free course on Russian grammar and vocabulary.

Russian Language Courses I Don’t Recommend

Rosetta Stone – I have learned Russian through Rosetta Stone for 6 months. Honestly, I don’t think it works.

Rosetta Stone uses the immersive learning method, which uses completely no English in the curriculum. It sounds good at the beginning. However, it goes downhill even before you reach an intermediate level.

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

As there are no grammar explanations, real-world conversation practices, or Russian cultural context. I could not even understand the basic sentence structures.

Undoubtedly, when I was in St.Petersburg, I could speak no Russian, despite a 6-month of Russian language learning with Rosetta Stone. Fortunately, I could say “hello” to Russian students whom I met in the museum.

What I got from Rosetta Stone is the knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet and some Russian words. Later on, the course also becomes intolerably boring, as it is monotonous, so I canceled the subscription and subscribed to RussianPod101.

Still, I like their innovative voice recognition technology. I would give Rosetta Stone 2 stars if I could.

Pun Anansakunwat
Founder of Victory Tale, a multipotentialite who has many different interests, especially in technology. He loves to spend time testing new products and learning interesting topics to broaden his insights. After graduating from Columbia University in 2014, he made a living by being a stock market investor, private tutor, a writer of three published books, and finally a website owner.

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