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The Best Russian Lessons

What’s the Best Way to Learn Russian?

If you're interested in learning the language, you likely already realize that it's going to be more challenging than some. First off, Russian uses a completely different alphabet, Cyrillic, from what you're using right now to read in English. Training your mind to recognize the new symbols and the sounds they make (or to make different sounds using letters that look similar between Cyrillc and the Roman alphabet) can take some time.

You'll also have to master a grammatical system that's quite different from English. Do you know the difference between the nominative case and the dative case? It's okay if you don't - because of the six cases used in Russian, we only use three in modern English.

Monday, October 25th

2021 Russian Lesson Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award LinguaLift Review 5 Star Rating

LinguaLift

5 Star Rating
  • 26 lessons at Level 1 and Level 2, 25 lessons at Levels 3-6
  • First 3 lessons of each level are free
  • Uses videos with native speakers
  • Offers plenty of cultural context
  • Tutors are available to answer questions
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

LinguaLift is the product of 6+ years of research by experts from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford - but don't let that pedigree give you the wrong impression. LinguaLift is like learning Russian from a trusted, knowledgeable friend. From the very first lesson, which promises that your experience will be a "truly magical adventure" , this service is reassuring, helpful, and fun. Is it any wonder it earns our highest ranking among Russian lessons?

Get a customized learning road map

When you create your free LinguaLift account, be sure to click on the link labeled "Road Map to Fluency" in the first lesson. There are 20 questions to answer, from your name and email address to your current and desired fluency levels in Russian, in what timeframe you'd like to reach your preferred competency level, and even what platform you use to listen to music! Your customized road map will be sent to your email.

Jump right in

But, there's no need to wait: you can go right ahead and do the first lesson, which introduces you to LinguaLift and to learning Russian. You'll take a very tiny quiz (don't worry, it's almost completely in English!), read a fascinating cultural lesson about "sitting down for the trip" before you start a journey (literal or metaphorical), listen to a full conversation in Russian (with captions), and then have some cake.

Every lesson ends with a "prize"

Wait, what? Cake? Yes! That's what LinguaLift calls the virtual reward they give you at the end of every lesson. Sometimes, that will include movie recommendations related to Russian or cool cultural insights; other times, it'll just be something...strange. Go to the end of the first lesson and see for yourself! We liked the "cake" for Lesson 2 much better.

About 150 lessons in total

LinguaLift is a terrific resource for beginners and more advanced students alike. There are 6 levels of Russian lessons, and each level has around 25 lessons. That's a lot to learn! Whether you need to begin with basic pronunciation and recognizing the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet (Level 1) or you're ready to pick up words and phrases for going to the doctor and visiting a pharmacy (Level 6), you'll find something suitable for your current ability in Russian.

Best Russian Lessons

Not much speaking practice or repetition

Wondering if there are any downsides to using LinguaLift? There are a couple, but they're relatively minor. We noticed a lack of speaking exercises, and of practice/repetition in general. Some Russian lessons have speech recognition tools that compare your speech against a native speaker's; on LinguaLift you can listen to LOTS of material in Russian (from videos to basic words and sentences) and copy them on your own, but there's nothing that tells you if you're getting close to an authentic accent. This may or may not be important to you.

Practice makes perfect

You're also responsible for the practice needed to make your Russian "stick" . This is true with all Russian lessons, but LinguaLift doesn't provide any flashcards or other repetitive ways to go over the content (beyond clicking the "review" button at the top of each lesson). You'll want to review the lessons as much as you need to emake sure they stick in your memory.

Real teachers available to help

Those "missing" features are balanced by LinguaLift's access to real teachers who can help you with your learning plan, answer questions about any of the exercises, or even give you extra assignments to boost your learning. Their responses might not be instantaneous (because they're actual humans, after all), but it's still a cool feature you won't get with most other Russian programs. That's included with your LinguaLift membership, which you'll need if you plan to go beyond the first three Russian lessons in whichever level(s) you use.

Costs

  • $16.95/month ($50.97 total) for 3-month subscription
  • $14.99/month ($89.94 total) for 6-month subscription
  • $12.99/month ($155.88 total) for 12-month subscription
  • $19.99/month for recurring month-to-month subscription

Affordable subscriptions for full features

Subscriptions are very affordable. You can choose to pay $19.99 month-to-month, $16.95/month ($50.97 total) for a 3-month subscription, $14.99/month ($89.94 total) for a 6-month subscription, or $12.99/month ($155.88 total) for a 12-month subscription. Your purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can use the free lessons for as long as you like.

First place among Russian lessons

Learning a new language can be tough, and attempting to master one as complex as Russian could feel downright scary. LinguaLift is the best way to start if you want regular reassurance that yes, you can do this, and yes, you'll have all the help you need - and you won't have to spend a ton of money to get there. These Russian lessons are appropriate for beginning to advanced students, with plenty of free content that will guide you to the level that's right for you. This is our favorite pick among the many different options for Russian lessons available today.

italki Review 4.5 Star Rating

italki

4.5 Star Rating
  • Online tutoring in Russian
  • Over 1,100 tutors to choose from
  • Convenient scheduling
  • Fantastic way to develop a more native-like accent
  • Choose from native speakers in several countries

italki offers Russian lessons unlike anything you'll find elsewhere. This service provides you with the opportunity to work one-on-one with community tutors and professional teachers at an hourly rate: no long-term commitments, subscriptions, or apps required! If your priority is learning to speak Russian fluently, italki is probably your best way of getting there quickly (aside from moving to a Russian-speaking country, of course).

Affordable hourly pricing with professional teachers

What kind of tutor should you choose? Community instructors might be best if you just want a fun conversation partner: they don't necessarily have any formal educational background in how to teach a language. On the other hand, italki tutors designated as "Professional" have experience as educators: some even have master's degrees or doctorates in teaching Russian! Surprisingly, there isn't a huge gap in pricing between the two: you can find lessons for as low as $6/hour, and it's rare to find anyone charging more than $30/hour. Also, many teachers give you an intro lesson at a deeply discounted cost, so that you can work together and see if it's a good fit first.

More than 1,000 Russian instructors to choose from

With over 1,000 Russian teachers on italki, you might feel a little overwhelmed trying to pick one. While you can sort them by their hourly rate, teaching type (community or professional), their availability, which country they're from or by what other languages they speak, the one filter that's missing is experience/ratings. You might have to browse the italki listings for a while until you spot a few potential matches for your Russian lessons.

Costs

  • From $6/hour to $30/hour
  • Discounted rates on trial lessons

Extensive profiles on each tutor

italki profiles usually include an intro video from the teacher. That's a great way to hear how they talk, especially in English: an amazing Russian instructor won't do you much good if you can't understand them in your own language too! Be sure to look at the profiles of any tutors who catch your attention: you can see everything they share about themselves, from their teaching background to the materials they use to give Russian lessons. For example, we found the profile of Eugene, as he calls himself in English: at the time of our visit, he had a perfect 5-star rating over more than 4,700 lessons and 400+ students during more than six years as an italki instructor.

Much more than just speaking practice

When deciding on a tutor, make sure to see how they approach teaching Russian lessons. italki can be used just for speaking practice - but it doesn't have to be limited to that. Taking a look at Eugene's profile, for instance, he says that he makes use of articles, PDFs, videos, and even homework assignments, and his hourly rates differ based on how much work outside of class you'll be expected to do.

Best Russian Lessons

Easy online scheduling

Once you've chosen a tutor, scheduling is a breeze: italki defaults to the timezone it detects on the device you're using, and shows you all available blocks on the tutor's schedule. Again, going back to our rockstar Eugene, we were able to schedule our first lesson the very next day at a time that happened to be open for both of us. You can also message the teacher to request a lesson slot not on their calendar.

Lots of positive feedback from students

italki gets rave reviews, not just on individual teachers' profiles but on the service as a whole too. Whatever your reason is for learning Russian - business, heritage, travel - you should have no problem finding a tutor (or several!) that will happily help you get there.

Some bravery required

So, with all of those amazing features, why doesn't italki earn our first-place ranking among the options for Russian lessons? Let's be honest: not every student is going to have the courage to work face-to-face (via video) with a tutor. Some individuals will probably feel more comfortable using a nice, impersonal language app first. And, if you don't have a dependable internet connection that can handle streaming video across the globe, this might not be the service for you.

Impressive way to learn Russian

Besides that, though, we can't say enough good things about italki. You dream of working with a professor from Belarus? Learning street slang from a young woman in St. Petersburg? Developing an accent that is indistinguishable from a native speaker's? Yes to all of the above? Then don't hesitate to start browsing tutor profiles on italki: you won't regret it.

Russian Pod 101 Review 4.5 Star Rating

Russian Pod 101

4.5 Star Rating
  • 7-day free trial with Premium tools
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • New content added weekly
  • Personalized study plans, guidance and feedback with 1:1 instructors with Premium Plus membership

Innovative Language Learning is the creator of Russian Pod 101 (and over three dozen other language "pods" ), one of the most thorough options for Russian lessons on the market. You can get free lifetime access to their lessons, which span five content levels in Russian alone. It's also one of the only providers that adds content every week, keeping your learning - and your vocabulary - amazingly up to date.

"Limited" time offer? Not exactly.

In order to see what Russian Pod 101 offers, you only have to do two things: enter your email address on the main page and confirm your account with the link you'll get in your inbox. You'll be asked if you'd like to receive the Word of the Day Email (and that's where it'd be helpful if you use your own address), and from there...prepare for a very sales-y pitch of a $1 "fast track to Russian fluency" . We've seen this "limited time offer" pressure with some of the other languages in the Pod 101 family, and honestly we could live without it. It's up to you if you want to take advantage of it, but be aware that your membership will automatically renew at $25/month after 30 days if you don't cancel.

5 levels of Russian lessons

Either way, your next step is to set up your profile. Are you an absolute beginner, beginner, or an intermediate, upper intermediate, or advanced student of Russian? Click on each level to see a brief description of what skills are expected at that degree of fluency (e.g. advanced equals being able to conjugate Russian verbs in the past, present and future tenses).

Very thorough lessons, from listening to grammar

Let's say you're an absolute beginner. When you go to your dashboard, you'll see that you've automatically been assigned to the Level 1 Russian course. You can add pathways or edit them at any time, but just click on the big blue "study" button to get going. It's going to start you off with an assessment of 8 questions; just guess or click on "I'm not sure" because there's no penalty for wrong answers. Your next stop is Self-Introductions and Basic Greetings: you'll get a basic dialogue to listen to, and you can read the transcription in Russian (Cyrillic), the Romanization (how it would be written phonetically in English), and the actual English translation. You'll be able to quiz yourself on what you learned, read through a detailed explanation of the grammar and some of the culture involved in this simple conversation.

Features limited on the free plan

However, not all of those features are included with your free account. When we signed up, we were given a 7-day trial that gave us access to almost everything, but the free plans limit you to just a few lessons across various levels of Russian. There's still a lot you can get at no cost, but you'll definitely feel the push to subscribe here!

Best Russian Lessons

Costs

  • Free access to thousands of lessons
  • Basic membership: plans range from $8/month to $96 for two years
  • Premium membership: plans range from $25/month to $240 for two years
  • Premium+ membership: plans range from $47/month to $549 for two years

3 paid membership plans

Here's the scoop on what's included in each of Russian Pod 101's memberships:

  • Basic: $8/month to $98 for two years. This gives you full access to all of the Russian lessons in their library, including the in-depth lesson notes.
  • Premium: $25/month to $240 for two years. Yes, that's a significant price increase, but it comes with a corresponding jump in the number of features. Premium provides you with line-by-line audio dialogue transcripts, HD video, and a ton of study tools that include lesson quizzes, voice recording tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and much more.
  • Premium Plus: $47/month to $549 for two years. Why is it so much more expensive? Because you'll have a teacher assigned to you, who will create a personalized learning plan for you, including assignments and assessments, and who will work on your written and spoken fluency in Russian.

60-day money-back guarantee

If you choose a paid plan with Russian Pod 101, you've got a 60-day money-back guarantee covering your purchase. Consider subscribing at the highest level (Premium Plus) and really putting these Russian lessons to the test: you can always downgrade your membership or cancel it altogether in the first two months, if they don't wind up feeling like a good fit for your learning style.

Almost too much content to choose from

The biggest reason to consider the Premium Plus plan at the outset is to get help navigating the Russian Pod 101 platform. In all honesty, we found it overwhelming: there was just too much to choose from, not just in the lessons themselves but in all of the "extras" on the dashboard. Vocabulary lists for emails? Bonus videos on Core Words and "What to do When Learning Russian Feels Overwhelming" ? Um, yes, it does feel that way! Since you can get your money back after trying Premium Plus for 60 days, it seems like the smartest idea to get yourself set up and learning with the least amount of floundering around.

Still one of the best choices for Russian lessons

Russian Pod 101 is the most comprehensive all-around approach to learning the language. Students from all fluency levels will have more than enough to keep them occupied for a long time, and it's a terrific way to get personalized help from a Russian teacher without ever leaving home. We could live without the sales pitch, and we're still working on not feeling completely buried by the almost-too-extensive content here, but it still earns one of our highest rankings among the options for Russian lessons.

Rocket Languages Review 4 Star Rating

Rocket Languages

4 Star Rating
  • Free trial
  • 144 hours of lesson time: includes 4210 voice recognition phrases, 32 interactive audio sessons, 40 language and culture lessons, 32 writing lessons
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Rocket is the platform of choice for many businesses who want their employees to brush up on their skills in Russian and other languages. From Sign Language to Hindi, this service has been used by companies like Deloitte and Pentel since 2004. Rocket is a good option for anyone just starting out in learning Russian.

Free guest account

If you'd like to try Rocket Russian, you can get a free guest account by providing them with your email address. They also let you check out their pricing and courses - but we had to browse the site for a while before that popped up.

Costs

  • Free trial period guest account
  • $149.95 ($99.95 with promo pricing)
  • $27/month for 6 months ($19/month with promo pricing)

No subscription, just a one-time fee

This is one of the few options for Russian lessons with a one-time cost instead of a monthly/yearly subscription. Rocket Russian's regular price is $149.95 (or 6 monthly payments of $27) - but every time we've visited the site, there's been a promotion in place that made it just $99.95 (or $19/month). Looks like the promotion is actually their everyday price, just saying. Whatever your final price winds up being, you're protected by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Best Russian Lessons

Lots of content - just not intermediate or advanced

What's included with a Rocket Russian purchase? You'll get almost 150 hours of lesson time: over 4,000 voice recognition phrases, plus 30+ lessons each of interactive audio, language and culture, and writing. Although Rocket says that their Russian lessons will help you reach up to an intermediate level of fluency, we'd say "advanced beginner" is a more accurate description. Even in the most advanced module of Rocket Russian, you're still learning how to write Cyrillic letters and just barely being introduced to past tense verbs. And, because this is a one-time purchase, you won't get any updated content - ever. Some of Rocket's rivals include regularly-refreshed materials that cover vocabulary relevant to current events, words you'll need to understand social media, and so on. Not here!

Learn all four ways of using Russian

But, don't let that discourage you, because Rocket Russian's approach to teaching the language is surprisingly robust - and fun! We recommend that you click on the "Find out how everything works!" link at the top of the dashboard: it'll walk you through how the platform works. As an overview, though, you can expect to hear full conversations in Russian, then have the opportunity to practice speaking and writing them yourself. Not every provider of Russian lessons helps you learn all four aspects (i.e. reading, writing, listening, speaking), but Rocket definitely does. And, cultural lessons mixed in are a great way to help you speak Russian in context (and maybe avoid some embarrassing mistakes!).

Good choice for beginners

Not everyone wants a long-term subscription for learning Russian. If you want plenty of solid beginning-level content that you can access forever without the pressure of keeping up with any membership costs, Rocket Russian is a reliable option. While you'll get more bells and whistles with some of the more updated platforms, Rocket's free guest account will give you more than enough opportunity to see if what they offer will work well for you.

Busuu Review 4 Star Rating

Busuu

4 Star Rating
  • Learn Russian for travel or for general studies
  • 14-day money-back guarantee on paid memberships
  • Placement test available for more advanced Russian students
  • Personalized study plans with Premium Plus membership
  • Certification testing available

Busuu is an endangered language in Cameroon - and it's also the name of a great language learning platform. An independent study revealed that using Busuu's Premium service for just 22 hours delivers the equivalent of a full semester of college Russian lessons - at a fraction of the cost.

Answer several questions to create no-cost account

To get started with Busuu, you'll create a free account with your name and email address (or any email address and name, since Busuu doesn't require you to verify your account to use their service). Next, specify if you're studying Russian to help with your education, develop professionally, learn for fun and culture, communicate with friends and family, or feel like a local when you travel. This will help you get lessons best suited for your goals. Then, indicate what fluency level you'd like to achieve: Beginner A1 (introductions and simple questions), Elementary A2 (socializing in Russian), Intermediate B1 (able to talk about favorite foods, movies, TV shows, etc.), or Upper Intermediate B2 (able to understand most of a TV show or movie).

Get a study plan

You'll also be asked which days of the week you plan to study, at what time of day, and for how many minutes, as well as whether or not you want Busuu to give you study reminders. At that point, Busuu should provide you with a study plan - but our results were a little off. For example, we were told that to go from an absolute beginner to a B2 level of fluency, it would be possible in a single day. We think they meant to put it as a year into the future, because short of a Matrix-like download of Russian directly into the brain, there's just no way to learn that much in 24 hours.

Lessons for travel or for general learning

As an aside, we appreciate how Busuu breaks their Russian lessons down into "complete" and "for travel" : why learn advanced verb conjugations and vocabulary you won't need if your focus is getting around in the country and having a terrific vacation?

Study any level at any time

Let's say you're starting Russian from the beginning. What can you expect when using Busuu? First off, there is TONS of free content! At the Beginner A1 level alone, there are more than 60 lessons to work through, ranging from basics like the Russian alphabet and introductions to noun genders and pronunciation exercises for hard and soft consonants. Across the four language levels offered here, there are nearly 150 total lessons to study - and it's helpful that you can move around at will and study any topic regardless of order. That's one perk offered by Busuu that you won't necessarily find elsewhere: the ability to study what you need, when you need it. If you've already got some experience with the language, Busuu can help you review what you know and still keep learning new things.

Best Russian Lessons

Costs

  • Free for Basic membership
  • Premium membership: $9.99/month
  • Premium Plus membership: $13.99/month
  • Discounts available when you pay for 12 or 24 months in advance

Get a paid plan for the most features

As you work through Busuu's free content, you'll start to see that not all features are enabled unless you pay for a subscription. Premium costs $9.99/month and gives you the ability to access your Russian lessons in offline mode, includes in-depth grammar lessons, and uses AI to customize your review sessions. Premium Plus is $13.99/month, and you'll need that tier if you want a personalized study plan, to get your fluency level certified through official tests offered by McGraw Hill, or to get feedback on your spoken and written Russian from other Busuu users (though you can give feedback to others if you just have a basic account, and you can also get limited feedback on your Russian responses to Busuu's Photos of the Week). You can also save money if you pay for your Busuu subscription on a 12- or 24-month plan instead of month-to-month.

One language at a time with free plans

One small disadvantage to using Busuu: if you plan on studying more than just Russian, you'll have to choose a paid membership. Their free Basic account only lets you access one language at a time, unfortunately.

Watch out for automatic renewals

Busuu gets mixed reviews from students. We found more than 10,000 ratings from users, and only half of them gave this platform a perfect five stars. About 20% of Busuu's ratings were average, poor or bad - but most complaints centered around the company's limited 14-day refund policy and automatic renewals. If you pay for an annual or a 2-year membership and you miss the reminder email about your upcoming renewal, you won't get a refund if you didn't want to re-up your plan.

Worth it to try it out for free

There's still plenty to love about Busuu. Not many Russian language providers give you as much content across so many levels, at absolutely no charge. You could easily use Busuu for years and not run out of things to learn, even without a paid membership. Give Busuu's basic account a try, and if you decide to subscribe, we recommend you start with a month-to-month plan so that you're not out very much money if you forget to cancel. (You can always upgrade to a 12-month plan later if you want the bigger discounts!)

Memrise Review 4 Star Rating

Memrise

4 Star Rating
  • Video clips of native speakers in authentic environments
  • Very large selection of Russian lessons
  • User-created content as well as Memrise materials
  • 30-day money back guarantee

Created in 2010, Memrise has grown to be one of the most popular language-learning apps on the market with over 60 million users in nearly 200 countries. Many people turn to Memrise after using other free language apps because they want the native speaker video clips featured here. It's a great way to work on having an accent that sounds more like how Russian is actually spoken!

Low-stress approach to learning Russian

Let's say you're brand-new to learning Russian. How will Memrise start you off? Letter by letter! When you create your free account, the first lesson will be Deciphering the Alphabet: an important place to begin if you don't already know Cyrillic! You'll see a video of someone holding up the letter and saying it, plus any corresponding letter in English. By the end of that lesson, you should feel comfortable identifying a few letters and basic words and phrases. The way it's structured feels comfortable, natural, and even fun: no need to panic!

User-created content expands your options

Compared with other Russian lessons, Memrise has a unique structure. Not only will you get access to what they have to offer, but you can also choose to learn from user-created content! For example, Memrise's Russian program includes Levels 1 through 7, with anywhere from 2-11 hours of content in each one. The topics covered range from basics like introductions and the alphabet to phrases you need to report a problem or have an argument (!). Jump over to the user content, though, and you've got so much more to learn: how about a 15-minute lesson on jewelry-related vocab? A 34-minute session covering vocabulary for plumbing and waste disposal? 9 hours covering 500 Russian verbs? You've got all that and then some on the Memrise platform.

Best Russian Lessons

Consider the paid plan for more features

Is it worth it to pay for a subscription? Maybe. Memrise doesn't make it clear which pay-to-use features are available specifically for their Russian lessons. Generally speaking, Memrise Pro includes a personalized learning experience that adapts as you learn, features video clips from native speakers in their own environments to give you authentic conversational speech and accents, plus other "entertaining and scientific memory techniques" . Those features are typically included only with their own content, and not with user-created lessons. Fortunately, between the free basic account and the 30-day money-back guarantee, Memrise makes it relatively risk-free to try out their Russian programs and see if you like them.

Costs

  • Free for basic account
  • $8.99/month for monthly plan
  • $90/year for annual plan
  • $139.99 for a lifetime membership

Discounts frequently available

How much does Memrise Pro cost? The everyday pricing is $8.99/month, $90/year, or $139.99 for a lifetime membership. But, we got regular offers for that annual plan at a 50% discount, both on the site as a limited-time offer promotion and via email after we signed up for a free Memrise account. We've also heard of customers getting a Memrise lifetime membership at a 50% discount, especially around the winter holidays when people are looking for novel gift-giving ideas. You should definitely be able to get some kind of discount if you decide to subscribe; you might just need to wait for that promotion to start or for the offer to come to your inbox first.

No games, but still fun to use

Memrise isn't game-y, so don't go into it expecting to have features like leaderboards and streaks. On the other hand, if you're a very visual learner we think you'll appreciate the video clips from the very start that help you picture how Russian looks, feels, and sounds. There's definitely enough to try for free before deciding if you'd like to pay for one of their affordable membership plans. Memrise is, overall, a solid place to start learning Russian.

Babbel Review 3.5 Star Rating

Babbel

3.5 Star Rating
  • Content for Newcomers and Beginners
  • 20-day money-back guarantee
  • Full sample lesson available for both levels of Russian

Babbel pops up in radio and TV ads everywhere. Across a wide range of available languages, this platform has earned more than 10,000 5-star ratings from happy users around the world.

Free full-length lesson - if you can find it

Want to try Babbel for learning Russian? They offer a full-length lesson for free - but they don't make it easy to find! (Probably because they'd rather you go ahead and buy a subscription) There's two ways to get there: either through the demo button on the "About Us'' page, or by going to the Babbel homepage and selecting Russian from the dropdown box. When you click on "Start Learning" , you'll answer a series of questions about your goals, the amount of time you expect to have on a daily basis for learning Russian, and why you're studying it in the first place. Enter your name and email address to create your free account; from your dashboard, you can then get to the free lesson.

Challenging to understand

Here's the short version, if you'd like an idea before signing up for that no-cost account. Babbel starts out with introducing you to some simple words in Russian, written in Cyrillic (not transliterated into the English alphabet), and then getting you familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet. By the end of the first lesson, you'll know how to say "yes" , "no" , "who" and "there" . That sample really didn't give us a good feel for how much content Babbel offers in each lesson or how well we'd know it by the time we reached the end of the Newcomer course. Would we have the opportunity to do any speaking practice? There wasn't any in the intro lesson at either the Newcomer or Beginner level. With no transliteration either, the exercises left us feeling like we were shooting in the dark a lot of the time.

Mostly beginning-level content

How far will Babbel take you in your Russian studies? Compared with the other languages they offer, not very far beyond a beginner level. There are 14 lessons in the Newcomer Course 1 series and 12 lessons in Course 2. When you move to the Beginner level, there are 8 total courses with anywhere from 11-16 lessons in each one.

Best Russian Lessons

Costs

  • $13.95 for 1 month
  • $41.85 for 3 months (promo price of $27.16)
  • $83.70 for 6 months (promo price of $45.91)
  • $167.40 for 12 months (promo price of $75)

Your cost may vary

How much will you pay for a subscription to Babbel? That depends. We've interacted with the site many times, and it seems like each visit gives us a different pricing structure. The everyday cost for a membership is $13.95/month, $41.85 for three months, $83.70 for six months, and $167.40 for a year. But, there's almost always some kind of promotion in place: at the time of this review, there was a holiday discount that brought the 3-month price down to $27.16, the 6-month price to $45.91, and the full year price to $75. And, not long after signing up for a free account, we got an email offering three months for free with a three-month subscription. Do the math, though: paying $41.85 for a 3-month plan at regular price and then getting an extra three months is just slightly less than the discounted price of $45.91 for a 6-month plan.

20-day refund policy

No matter which plan you choose, you've got 20 days to decide if it lives up to your expectations and to request a refund if not. Beyond those 20 days, you're out of luck! That's actually one of the two biggest reasons we've seen customers complain about Babbel: they either didn't realize that it had such a small refund window, or they missed the reminder(s) about the automatic renewal and were charged for another subscription period. That's definitely not Babbel's fault, but that doesn't seem to stop people from getting mad about it.

Not as good in Russian as in other languages

We were surprised at how different the Russian lessons felt here, compared with other languages Babbel offers that we reviewed. Maybe it was the non-Roman alphabet or the fact that we didn't have any familiarity with the language at all, but most of the time Babbel had us feeling lost as we tried to use it to learn Russian. We still give it a better-than-average rating, because of the free lesson access, affordable pricing, and 20-day refund policy. However, we encourage you to try many different approaches to learning Russian before you settle on Babbel.

Mondly Review 3.5 Star Rating

Mondly

3.5 Star Rating
  • Keeps learning fun with games, contests and leaderboards
  • Lots of free content with no credit card needed for access
  • Conversation practice through Chatbot and Augmented Reality
  • Speech recognition features to help you with your accent

If your ideal Russian lessons keep you having fun through a game-like app, complete with badges and leaderboards, Mondly might work for you. It's not a grammar-intensive program (which is a pro for some and a con for others), teaching more through repetition of words and phrases than with lengthy explanations.

Make a free account to take a peek

It's free to create an account with Mondly, and it's the best way to see if you like the overall feel of their Russian lessons (or any other language among the 40+ they offer). Select your level as beginner, intermediate or advanced - but be aware that, with a free account, you won't be able to access much beyond Mondly's "Hello" starter lesson, one chatbot conversation, and the featured daily lesson.

Toggle between Cyrillic and Romanization

Let's say you're starting at the very beginning. What should you expect from the first lesson in "Hello" ? You'll get pictures to match with a word, and your app will default to the English transliteration: in other words, the way it would be written phonetically in English. There's a little button in the upper right-hand corner if you'd prefer to see the words in Cyrillic, and you can toggle that back and forth. It quickly moves forward from there, jumping into some basic sentences you can figure out from the pictures, context, or previously-introduced vocabulary.

Limited direct teaching of grammar

You can go back and review previously-learned words at any time. Either click on "Redo" to go through the whole lesson again, or use the blue box to the right to see a recap of what you learned plus any additional info. For example, on the first "Hello" lesson, you'll find the conjugations for "to be" in the present (something they don't really come right out and tell you during the lesson itself). There's not a ton of direct grammar instruction with Mondly: you're supposed to pick it up along the way, for the most part.

Best Russian Lessons

Most features require a subscription

You'll also realize pretty quickly that most of Mondly's features are pay-to-use. For example, their Chatbot will give you one sample back-and-forth interaction (which is pretty fun!), but you'll need to subscribe if you want to use that tool regularly. The same goes for Mondly's unique Augmented Reality feature: you can superimpose a digital "person" on your own environment and interact with them! Worth paying for? Maybe, maybe not, but it's definitely something you won't find with other Russian lessons.

Costs

  • $9.99/month for 1 language
  • $47.99/year for 1 language
  • $89.99 one-time payment for lifetime access to all 41 languages

Price is anyone's guess

How much does Mondly cost? Believe us when we say "it depends" . We've visited the Mondly site regularly as we evaluated many of their language lessons, and it seems that the prices were slightly different each time. You could pay $9.99 per month, $47.99 for a year-long membership, or get one-year access to all of the languages they offer for the same $47.99 (as a promotional discount). Another time, though, you might see an even bigger deal: lifetime access to every Mondly language for a one-time cost of $89.99. (We were also confused because in some places Mondly says they have 41 languages, but in other spots that number is just 33.) It's affordable no matter how you look at it, but it's frustrating to use Mondly for a while and think you're going to subscribe at one price, only to find that when you go to buy the membership it's a completely different dollar amount.

No refunds

Be aware that Mondly doesn't have a satisfaction guarantee: if you pay for a month, a year, or for lifetime access and decide it's not really helping you learn Russian, you can cancel future renewals but you won't get a refund on what you already paid. We definitely encourage you to sign up for a free account and try Mondly for a while before committing to any of their paid plans.

Good in many ways, but not quite top notch

People who want to learn Russian can easily get started by using Mondly. It's fairly intuitive to use and can keep you motivated to learn: just one more point on the leaderboard and I'll finally beat that other guy! But, it doesn't quite get our highest recommendation because of the paywall preventing people from really trying all of their features and the lack of a refund policy.

Rosetta Stone Review 3 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

3 Star Rating
  • 3-day free trial
  • Immersion-based learning that uses lots of images
  • Good speech recognition tool to help you develop a better accent
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Everyone knows Rosetta Stone! Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have used this platform to start learning a new language, from Portuguese to German and even those picking up English for the first time. Should you use Rosetta Stone to learn Russian? Read on and decide for yourself.

Easy to access a 3-day free trial

You could just jump in and subscribe to Rosetta Stone's Russian lessons. After all, is there any bigger name in language learning? But, if you're like most of us, you'd rather give it a try first and see how it actually feels to use their program. Right? No problem: just go to the Rosetta Stone homepage, and scroll down towards the bottom. You'll see a dropdown box and a place to enter an email address; just choose Russian and type in an email to access a 3-day free trial.

Provide accurate info to get best lesson plan

First, you'll need to choose your level: beginner, intermediate, or proficient. Next, select your purpose for studying Russian (e.g. travel, family, work, basics and beyond) because your lessons will focus on the vocabulary you'll need most. From there, you'll be taken to the first lesson in your plan. When we chose a proficient language level and "family" as our focus, we were given a study plan that included vocabulary related to correspondence, careers, invitations and apologies, and dining in/out. You can change your plan at any time and the content will shift accordingly: as a beginner learning Russian for travel purposes, your first week's lessons will be basic sentences and everyday items.

Speech recognition tool

Rosetta Stone uses speech recognition as a key component of teaching languages. That's why you'll have to set up your profile as an adult male, adult female, or child. You'll be prompted to do that before going into your first lesson.

Best Russian Lessons

Immersion-based learning is difficult in Russian

This language platform is well-known for its immersion-based approach to teaching. When you start learning Russian, you'll be shown images of boys, girls, men and women, matched with verbs like "eats" , "drinks" , "reads" and "runs" (all in Russian, of course!). There's no transliteration, so you're going to have to do your best to imitate the sounds you hear and map it to the Cyrillic words on the screen. This approach works well for languages that use the Roman alphabet, but less so for Cyrillic or languages that use other characters unfamiliar to most English speakers: Just 14 screens into the Russian lessons here, we found ourselves with a splitting headache!

Move freely through topics if needed

They don't make it obvious, but you can jump around in topics. Click on "Explore All Content" inside your dashboard to see your options. There's an alphabet tool that shows you each letter and several words that include it, an "audio companion" with downloadable MP3 files you can listen to on the go, stories to read (or read along with!), and several other features (that, frankly, felt like they'd be best held in reserve for a later date when we were feeling less lost in the language!).

Costs

  • 3-day free trial
  • $35.97 for 3 months of Russian lessons
  • $143.88 ($95.88 with promotional pricing) for 12 months of Russian lessons
  • $299 ($179 with promotional pricing) for lifetime access to all languages

Much better pricing than before

One big improvement that Rosetta Stone has made is in pricing. In the past, you had to buy it only on CD-ROM and it was extremely expensive - out of range of most learners' budgets. Now, you can get Russian lessons completely online and at a price that is really affordable: $35.97 for 3 months of access to Russian, $95.88 for 12 months, or $299 for lifetime access to Rosetta Stone's complete language library. We've visited the site regularly, and a few times we spotted a promo price of just $179 for that lifetime account, so keep your eyes open if you really love this platform.

Too difficult for beginners learning Russian

For some languages, we really love using Rosetta Stone. The company has even earned our highest recommendation in some categories. However, for learning Russian, this was not a favorite. While we understand the value of an immersion-based approach, most people will need at least a little bit of reference back to English to wrap their head around Russian: tell us how it would look if the sounds were written in letters we already understand, please! For those who already understand some Russian and/or have a basic grasp of Cyrillic, Rosetta Stone might be more comfortable. But, for the average brand-new student, these Russian lessons will likely feel more than a little overwhelming.

Living Language Review 1.5 Star Rating

Living Language

1.5 Star Rating
  • Subscriptions ranging from 1-12 months
  • Beginner to advanced Russian lessons
  • Sample lessons on the website

Living Language is part of the Penguin Random House family, which has been in business for over 70 years. They were one of the first companies to offer Russian lessons online, in addition to instruction delivered via CD-ROM.

No info needed to try free lesson

Living Language lets you try all of the content in their first lesson of Russian: Essential Expressions. You'll start off jumping right in with vocabulary like "hello" and "goodbye" , grammar lessons on singular pronouns and gender, and a few short cultural lessons. You'll get practice through flashcards, matching games, and multiple choice questions. Since you don't have to create an account or provide any other personal info to access those, we strongly recommend you go through all of them to get a feel for how Living Language teaches Russian.

Boring learning platform

Our take? The content isn't terrible, but the delivery is so very dry compared with every other type of Russian lessons we evaluated. There doesn't seem to be any tracking of what you've learned, and the games are very early 2000s in style.

Best Russian Lessons

Costs

  • $39 for 1 month
  • $50 for 3 months
  • $75 for 6 months
  • $150 for 1 year

Poor value for an expensive subscription

Besides that, is it really worth the $39/month you'll pay on a month-to-month membership? We don't think so. Living Language's competitors often give you one-on-one tutoring at that price point, not just static lessons that are barely interactive. (For what it's worth, eTutoring used to be an add-on service offered here, but the company discontinued it in 2018.) True, you could pay less per month with an annual subscription of $150 - but why?

Zero refunds

We'll give you a good reason why not: there's no satisfaction guarantee here. No matter which membership you choose, you can't get a refund. Ever. Most Russian lessons give you a certain length of time to try them out, see the entire spectrum of what they teach, and then ask for your money back if needed. With Living Language, all you get is that Essential Expressions. If you take them at their word that they have content ranging up to the advanced level, but you only wind up with beginner to intermediate at the most (which is what we found with other languages taught by this company), you're just plain out of luck.

Bottom of the pile among Russian lessons

Still not convinced? We recommend that you sample all of the free content offered through other Russian lesson providers in our evaluation, and contrast it with what you'll find on the Living Language website. We'd bet that you'll easily find several options that catch your attention - and that make Living Language's Russian lessons pale by comparison. There are a lot of reasons why this company frequently winds up at the bottom of the list for learning languages online, and we encourage you to look elsewhere to study Russian.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Feeling discouraged? Don't be! Russian is ranked as a Level III language by the US State Department, marking it merely as a "hard" language and not as difficult as Level IV languages like Arabic or Chinese. Whew! And with the right type of Russian lessons, you could find yourself reading, writing, understanding and speaking the language more fluently than you imagined.

So, what makes a Russian language program the "right type" ? Some of that depends on you. Do you learn best by reading detailed explanations of grammar or by learning useful words and phrases in context? Do you like your learning to feel like playing games or do you prefer a more straightforward, traditional approach? If you're not sure about the answers to any of those questions, that's fine: most Russian lessons have a free lesson or give you limited access to the platform so you can try it for yourself. Put a few providers to the test and see which ones keep coming to mind - or which approach helps what you've learned to "stick" the best!

Generally speaking, there are a few factors that can make a particular system for learning Russian better than another. Those include:

  • Ease of Use. How intuitive is it to move through each lesson, and from one topic to another? Is it clear what you're supposed to learn next? The more comfortable you are with the app, materials, or however the Russian lessons are delivered, the more likely you are to stick with it and keep making progress.
  • Value. Some Russian lessons involve a monthly or yearly subscription, while others have a one-time cost. How much will you get for what you pay? Will you have enough content to keep you busy for as long as you intend to study the language? Does your paid membership or one-off fee add a significant number of features or materials beyond what the service may offer for free?
  • Refund Policy. If you purchase a long-term subscription or pay for an entire program upfront, can you get your money back if it doesn't live up to your expectations?
  • Reputation. Have other people been successful using the service to learn Russian?

TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's top resources for learning Russian online. We're confident that this information will help you choose the Russian lessons that will boost your fluency in no time!

The Best Russian Lessons Compare Russian Lessons Compare Russian Lesson Reviews What are the best Russian Lessons Best Russian Lesson Reviews

Russian Lesson FAQ

A lot! Estimates range from 150-250 million people around the globe who speak Russian as their first language. It's one of the six official languages designated by the UN (along with Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, French and Spanish), the most spoken native language in Europe, and the most geographically widespread language in all of Eurasia. Russian is the official language of Russia (of course), Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and widely used in most of the former USSR nations.
Yes, but with few exceptions, Russian speakers all understand each other. People often refer to the "literary language" of Russian, used in all major cities throughout Russia. Beyond that, you'll find regional accents and vocabulary - but the type of Russian you'll learn in any class will be the commonly-accepted one.
We'll be honest: it's challenging! From the Cyrillic alphabet to grammatical differences, Russian is quite different from English, and we don't really borrow enough vocabulary from Russian for it to be familiar as we learn it. It's not quite as hard as Arabic, Japanese or Chinese (according to the US State Department, anyway!), and if you work diligently and consistently, you should be able to learn as much Russian as you like.
You have to start by learning the Cyrillic alphabet. It's got 33 letters, some of which are familiar from our Latin alphabet, and some that will be completely new - and most of which won't be pronounced the same as what you use in English! From there, basic vocabulary will help you with day-to-day needs like asking for directions or buying things in the market, but shape your learning according to how you plan to use Russian (on vacation, in business, and so on).
Unless you live in a college town, it might be your only option! Russian lessons aren't easy to come by in person, so going with an online platform ensures that you can learn when and where you like, for as long as you wish. They're also much more affordable than college tuition!
If you're studying Russian online, you will need to enable the language on your computer. Search for the steps you'll have to take on your operating system (PC or Mac). Otherwise, there are online Russian keyboard sites where you can copy-paste characters one by one (but that will get a little tedious).
They're quite affordable. You can choose between two options: monthly subscriptions or one-time purchase. Most month-to-month plans are less than $25/month, while one-off Russian lesson packages are anywhere from $50 to $700. All of the Russian lesson programs we found were much cheaper than paying for a semester of college tuition!
That varies. For monthly subscriptions, you may be able to cancel your recurring payments without a refund of what you paid previously. If you buy a package of Russian lessons (online, CDs), you may be protected by a 30- or 60-day satisfaction guarantee. Be sure to understand the terms of any Russian language platform you're considering before you make your purchase, and take advantage of any free lesson samples or trial periods the service offers.
The Best Reviews of Russian Lessons