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Saturday, February 4th
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.
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.
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.
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:
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