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More than 270 million people speak Russian worldwide, from native speakers living in the nations of the former Soviet Union to students who have learned it as a second language. In fact, many federal agencies - from the US Department of Agriculture to the Department of Defense, as well as the FBI, CIA, NSA and State Department - have identified Russian as a priority language of national need.
It's no wonder, therefore, that speaking Russian can be a distinct advantage in one's career goals, international travels, or post-graduate studies. Modern technology makes it possible to learn Russian from the comfort of your home - or anywhere you choose to go with your mobile device and headphones - rather than trying to find a local class and fit it into your busy lifestyle.
Saturday, January 16th
Russian Accelerator focuses on using the most modern, proven techniques for helping students learn one of the most difficult languages in the world. The company's approach to Russian doesn't require lengthy hours of study, as students have experienced impressive levels of fluency by regular sessions of 20-30 minutes a day.
Key components of Russian Accelerator include:
What sets Russian Accelerator apart from other programs we reviewed is their singular focus on effectively teaching Russian. Other providers teach Russian as one of many languages that they offer, which can lead to teaching in ways that might not be as effective for a language based on a non-Roman alphabet like Cyrillic. The creator of Russian Accelerator, along with the instructors and coaches, are all either native speakers of Russian or individuals who learned it as a foreign language and have significant experience with using it in Russian-speaking nations.
If you'd like to see if Russian Accelerator's program is a good fit for you, you can access a three-week trial for $1. With that trial, you will get two bonuses that are yours to keep even if you don't go on to purchase the full program: Russian Alphabet Mastery, which promises to help you learn the Cyrillic alphabet in three hours; and, On the Go (vol.1) audio files that can be burned to a CD or loaded to a mobile device.
After the trial period, if you choose to subscribe, Russian Accelerator costs between $291 and $388, depending on whether or not there are any special promotions in place at the time of your order (when we reviewed the program, there was a sale in place). You will be billed in three or four installments of $97, depending on the current price of the program at the time of your purchase.
While this makes Russian Accelerator more expensive than many other Russian lessons, it is backed by a one-year satisfaction guarantee: you can get a full refund within those first 12 months for any reason, no questions asked. Although we would like to see more specific details as to how Russian Accelerator's online lessons work - screenshots of or access to the student dashboard, if any, or an outline of the 18 units taught - the satisfaction guarantee and three-week trial make it truly risk-free to give it a try.
Across the web, we found numerous students who raved about the progress they made using Russian Accelerator. Especially compelling were the reviews that described previous failures using other Russian lessons and their subsequent successes while using this program.
Because of their exclusive focus on teaching Russian, a superior satisfaction guarantee, and track record for success, Russian Accelerator earns our top rating for Russian lessons
Rocket Languages' Russian lessons program is fun and effective, especially for beginners. Rocket's Russian program is currently offered at only one level of instruction, taking learners from beginner to intermediate level and helping them achieve a good conversational level upon completion of the course.
Rocket Russian's Premium Level 1 course contains the following:
Other course features include the My Vocab vocabulary builder, the Phrase Finder, progress tracking with badges and leaderboard access, lifetime course access, and a "Survival Kit" that help students quickly master targeted vocabulary within specific conversational situations.
Rocket Russian offers a 15-minute audio lesson right on the main Russian page. If you're willing to enter your email address, you can also access a free trial of the entire program, from the student dashboard to the flashcards and writing lessons. We love that Rocket Russian includes detailed writing and culture lessons - two aspects that are often overlooked by other programs. In the transcripts of the voice lessons' conversations, you can see the Cyrillic along with the English-alphabet approximation of how it would be read - this is very helpful for beginners who are still working out how the Cyrillic letters are pronounced.
We had some issues with getting our voice sample to record while using the trial access, but most students report that the voice recognition component works well for them so it may be a temporary glitch related to the trial itself.
Rocket Languages is one of very few providers of Russian lessons to offer a 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee. But, you probably won't need to use it since nearly 2,000 users have given Rocket Languages a five-star rating. And, while even their list price is reasonable, we found that Rocket often has discounts and other special offers to bring the cost down even more; at the time of our review, Rocket Russian was on sale for just $59.98.
Learning a language with a completely different alphabet, pronunciation, and culture can be a challenge. Rocket Languages' Russian lessons walk you through the process step-by-step in a way that will give you confidence in using Russian in a variety of settings. Rocket Russian is one of our top picks for Russian Lessons.
Transparent Language's Russian lessons promise "radically better language learning, in one complete experience". They make use of a variety of strategies - grammar, writing, pronunciation and speech activities, among others - to help you learn Russian fluently.
Transparent Language allows you to choose from two main paths through your language journey: Russian, which starts out directly with the Cyrillic alphabet, and Russian Transliterated ("For English Speakers") which gives you the approximate English pronunciation as well as the words written out in Cyrillic. We recommend you take advantage of Transparent's 14-day free trial to see which path feels best for you.
Transparent Language tries to walk you through the process of learning Russian with a number of tools. Core Skill-Building Activities target the four core skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Speaking practice is done using their proprietary EveryVoice technology, allowing you to compare your pronunciation with that of a native speaker. And, the typing activities included in Transparent's Russian lessons gradually teach you how to use your regular keyboard to type in Cyrillic. Transparent Language makes sure to give you a well-rounded approach to your language learning adventure.
If for any reason you are unsatisfied with your subscription or download after becoming a paying customer, you can receive a full refund within six months of purchase (or prior to the next billing cycle if you're a subscriber to one of the online plans).
You should be aware that the structure of Transparent's Russian lessons is very flexible: you are able to jump from one topic to another without needing to demonstrate mastery of previous lessons. For some students, this flexibility is helpful as it allows them to move to the vocabulary or grammar they most need at the time; however it may be overwhelming for beginners to not have a more rigid progression through the available lessons.
If you need more personalized help with learning Russian, Transparent Language does have the option to access live weekly lessons or one-on-one tutoring. It's considerably more expensive than the online course or MP3 downloads - $299 for an 8-week, customized online course that meets weekly, and/or $99 for 90 minutes of one-on-one online tutoring on whatever area you need to work on - but many Transparent Language customers appreciate having options in addition to the online subscription for those times when they have specific challenges with the language.
Transparent Languages' Russian lessons are well-rounded and affordable, and we appreciate that they offer both live lessons and tutoring.
If you've ever thought of learning a new language, you've probably come across Rosetta Stone. Aiming to teach students a new language in the same way they learned their native tongue - namely, through a process they call "Dynamic Immersion" - Rosetta Stone gives you new vocabulary, phrases, and sentences without constant translation between English and Russian.
You can get a small taste of how this works by clicking on the "Try a Free Demo" button near the top of the main Russian product page. You'll be shown several pictures, which will be labeled in Russian and accompanied by the matching pronunciation of the word. You match the sound and the written word with the correct image, which will then be paired with two verbs (boy, girl, the boy eats, the girl drinks). Unfortunately, that's the extent of the free demo for Russian; you can get a free 3-day trial for Spanish, English, French, German, or Italian, but that isn't as helpful as it would be to see how Rosetta Stone approaches teaching a completely different alphabet like Cyrillic, for example. But, you may find it useful to try out Rosetta Stone's overall approach to teaching languages, to see if it's a good fit for your learning style.
One plus is that Rosetta Stone's newer pricing makes them much more competitive with other providers of Russian lessons in the past, their programs cost $400 or more, putting them out of reach for many learners on a budget. But, at the time of our review, Rosetta Stone's Russian program was selling for $199 for a two-year online subscription and $179 for access via CD-ROM or download.
Similarly, their satisfaction guarantee/return policy has gotten an upgrade - 30-day, no risk, money back guarantee on all products, not just their CD-ROMs as the policy had previously stated.
Student reviews of Rosetta Stone are mixed. Some learners felt that the program didn't deliver a truly immersive language experience, and that their resulting level of fluency was lower than they had expected. Of course, no language program can be truly immersive; the only way to get that experience is to spend time in Russia or another Russian-speaking nation (or community). On the other hand, there are hundreds of reviews from satisfied language-learners who appreciate Rosetta Stone's attempts to teach languages in a more natural way and have used the skills they gained in a variety of settings, from school to work and travel.
Although we'd love to see a more complete free trial specifically of the Russian program Rosetta Stone offers, we appreciate their new and improved pricing and satisfaction guarantee, and we're confident that many students will enjoy learning Russian using their immersion-style approach.
Living Language's uses a four-step approach to studying Russian: Build a Foundation, Progress with Confidence, Retain What You've Learned, and Achieve Your Goals. For almost seven decades, the techniques that Living Language initially developed for the US State Department have allowed students to create a strong foundation of core words and phrases, moving easily to complete sentences and conversations, and eventually conversing comfortably in Russian in a number of real-world situations.
The Russian lessons offered by Living Language are delivered in two basic formats: Russian Essential and Complete, which are presented through books and audio CDs, and the Russian Online Course:
If you'd like to get an idea of Living Language's approach to teaching Russian, be sure to take a look at their free Language Lab. You can access it directly from the website, without having to enter your email address or any other personal information. We suggest going directly to Lesson 1: Essential Expressions and trying the vocabulary flashcard game. You may want to set the transliteration feature to "on", which will allow you to see the approximate English pronunciation of the Cyrillic words. You will also be able to see which topics are covered in the Russian program; for example, the 10 lessons in the Essential level cover basic expressions and other everyday topics, while the Intermediate level helps you talk about health and food (among many other subjects).
However, we felt that the free Language Lab activities didn't really help us understand how Living Language structures its teaching of Russian. We were left wondering if there is any direct instruction regarding the Cyrillic alphabet or pronunciation, or how the famously tricky grammar of Russian is addressed. We would have liked to see, at a minimum, a video or screenshots of the lessons themselves, or a description of the progression within the lessons. Most competitors allow prospective students to see the dashboard, syllabus, or other detailed information, so that they know exactly what they're getting with their program. Living Language felt like something of a mystery with respect to how, exactly, they teach their Russian lessons. Especially because there is no return policy or satisfaction guarantee - again, unlike most of their competitors - students may find it best to try one of their lower-priced options, such as the one-month online course, before committing to a more expensive package or subscription.
On a positive note, Living Language's e-Tutoring has many positive reviews from students who feel that it's well worth the investment. Pricing varies, but Living Language includes two e-Tutoring credits with their full-year package, and students can purchase further credits if they wish. For many of their language programs, Living Language offers a Platinum package that combines the full-year online course and all of the print/audio materials, along with twelve e-Tutoring credits; unfortunately, Russian is not one of the languages that currently offers access to that Platinum package. We suggest contacting Living Language to inquire regarding their e-Tutoring prices if you feel that you would benefit from working one-on-one with a native speaker.
On the whole. Living Language's Russian lessons have positive reviews, especially for their tutoring options, but their lack of a satisfaction policy and scant details about the structure of their program make it difficult to give them a higher rating at this time.
Pimsleur is well-recognized around the world for teaching new languages through 30-minute audio lessons. If your priority is learning how to speak Russian, not necessarily how to read or write it, Pimsleur may be worth your consideration. What makes Pimsleur particularly handy is that their audio lessons come either as a CD or an MP3 download, so that you can listen on your iPod, smartphone, or other mobile device during your commute or other moments on-the-go.
If you're wondering if Pimsleur's audio lessons are a good fit for your learning style, click on the orange "Try a Free Lesson" button on their main Russian lessons page. After entering your name, zip code, email address, and purpose for learning Russian (such as for fun, business, and so on), you'll have access to a complimentary 30-minute introductory lesson. We found the sample lesson to be easy to follow and left us with a good understanding of some basic pronunciation and phrases. You'll want to make sure that you are in an environment that allows you to speak out loud; a core component of their teaching strategy is asking students to imitate what they hear as closely as possible.
On the other hand, if you need to know how to read and write Russian as well as speak it, Pimsleur might not help you reach those goals as well as some of the other programs we reviewed. Their Unlimited Software package does include 900 flash cards and 900 quick matches, in addition to the 90 audio lessons from the MP3/CD packages, but this isn't likely to help you not only understand how Cyrillic is read but also how to write it yourself.
We also were less than impressed with Pimsleur's "Proficiency Guarantee". Many of the Russian lessons in our review offer a money-back customer satisfaction guarantee, but Pimsleur chooses to go a different route: once you complete their Level I Russian program, you can opt to take a competency exam through an independent testing company Pimsleur has chosen (which, incidentally, gave us a 404 error when we tried to follow Pimsleur's link to the testing site). You can only get a refund if you fail that exam.
Lastly, Pimsleur will cost you more than almost any other provider of Russian instruction. Given that they offer a single approach to learning the language - audio lessons - we felt that the value was not as high as other more comprehensive programs that teach listening, conversation, and reading/writing skills for less money.
We highly recommend that you try the sample lesson before purchasing one of Pimsleur's programs, especially if you're an auditory learner who might greatly benefit from their listening-based Russian language instruction. If you decide that Pimsleur is for you, be sure to check for any special offers that may be available, as we saw discounts offered from time to time when we visited the site.
LingQ (pronounced like the word "link") teaches Russian using native speaker helpers and tutors, authentic reading materials (such as books and newspaper articles), and audio lessons. All users can access LingQ for free for up to five lessons each month, and saving 20 target words to their accounts. For more in-depth learning and progression, however, students will need to subscribe: $10/month for unlimited lessons and LingQs (saved target words), or $39/month for that package along with 3000 connection points.
Beyond that, LingQ left us feeling lost. Where most Russian lessons have an orderly progression through topics, LingQ gives brand-new students a long list of possible courses to choose from, such as "Alphabet" and "Who is She?" Many of the lessons listed as Beginner 1 had titles that were completely in Russian, with no explanation as to what would be covered. The few lessons we sampled were confusing to follow; it was hard to understand what we were learning and why, and felt like someone was just reading us words and hoping that we'd follow along. Despite our experiences with learning multiple languages, we felt bewildered by trying to follow LingQ's approach to Russian.
We found LingQ's paid connection system equally hard to understand. A one-on-one conversation with a native speaker of Russian costs $5 for 15 minutes, and a 100-word writing correction costs $5. This could be useful for more advanced students, but for beginners it might be easier to look online for a willing volunteer to help with speaking and basic writing correction.
We strongly recommend that you try LingQ's free account before opting for a subscription package. If you're a beginning Russian student, you may find one of the more structured programs in our review is a better fit, especially if you don't have prior experience with learning a foreign language.
Strokes Easy Learning Russian lessons are available through download or on traditional DVDs for use on a laptop or other computer, and included in both formats are:
Strokes Easy Learning Russian revolves around EU standards for learning, covering levels A1 to C1, along with a program specifically for language used in business interactions for professionals who need to use Russian. Strokes allows site visitors to download a complimentary set of three lessons, but issues with the site left us wondering if the files would be reliable or safe to install.
For instance, when we looked for more details by clicking on the link for "Program information", it returned a page with no information at all. Also, the "Shipping & Returns" page provided shipping costs within and outside of Europe, but there was no return policy given. Most of Strokes' competitors have a clearly-established policy for returning products and/or getting a refund if customers are unsatisfied with the product. Lastly, we spotted several spelling and grammatical errors that raised concerns about the quality of the Russian language programs.
And, when we took a look at the learning apps offered by Strokes, we noticed that there was no app for Russian; for the languages available, the apps had not been updated in over two years and had only a small number of reviews.
For all these reasons, Strokes International received low marks in our review. We encourage you to consider one of the more highly-rated programs that we evaluated.
From audio lessons to interactive multimedia programs on your laptop, beginning and experienced students alike can easily access the information needed to take their skills to the next level.
When deciding on a program for studying Russian, you should determine your overall goals and focus on a program that will help you meet your objectives while being a good fit for your learning style, available time for studying, and your budget.
If you learn best by listening, you may want to focus on lessons that are provided primarily in audio format, making it easy to learn on-the-go, during your commute, and so on.
On the other hand, if you're a more visual learner, you will want to choose a program with Russian lessons that are delivered through videos, images, and reading materials, whether that's delivered via CD/DVD or through an online download or subscription.
One aspect of learning Russian to keep in mind is its use of a non-Roman alphabet. Russian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which can take some time to recognize, understand, and master.
Is it important for you to learn how to read and write in Russian, or is conversational ability sufficient? If your reasons for learning the language include reading and writing, make sure to select Russian lessons that will give you experience with Cyrillic.
There are a few key components to evaluate as you consider which Russian lessons will be a good fit. These include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Russian lessons available today. We hope these reviews will help you to find the perfect Russian program to get you on the road to fluency in no time!
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