Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.
Tuesday, February 7th
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.
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!)
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.
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:
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!
Select any 2 Russian Lessons to compare them head to head
Newsweek on MSN
Fact Check: Has Ukraine Banned 19 Million Russian Books From its ...
With such destruction of Ukraine's history, Kyiv has taken steps to address Russian cultural presence in the country, with one social media post claiming that the government had "banned" 19 million ...
Tue, 07 Feb 2023