Learn Russian Online

When I set out to learn Russian online, I wasn't sure where to start. There are a lot of good resources on the internet, some better than others. On this page, I'll show you the stuff that worked best for me.

Learning the Russian Alphabet

One of the things that kept me from learning Russian for a long time was the alphabet. But once I got started on it, I realized learning the sounds well enough to read wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

For this, I wanted something that not only taught me the letters, but also provided video instruction from a native speaker so I could learn to pronounce things correctly. I decided to use learnrussian.org. Because of their simple presentation and effective pronunciation lessons, I keep coming back to it again and again, whenever I have a question about pronunciation.

Handwriting and Typing in Russian

If you need to be able to enter data into FamilySearch, Ancestry, or any other genealogy database in a foreign language, here's how to do it.

Using Google Translate

Let's say you have an ancestor's name and place of birth written out in English, but you want to save it in Russian. Open translate.google.com and set the language selection in the left window to English. Set the language selection on the right in Russian. Type your English equivalent, and Google Translate will give you the Russian equivalent, in the Cyrillic alphabet. Now all you do is copy and paste.

Or, if you have the names and places in Russian but need to get them entered into the computer, set the language to Russian on the left and English on the right. Then, click to open the Russian keyboard on the left and "type" in your Russian information by clicking with your mouse. You'll notice your keyboard puts out Russian characters when the Russian keyboard is active, so you can type that way, too. 

Installing a Russian Keyboard on Your Computer

Of course, the other way to go is install a Russian keyboard into your operating system and put stickers on your keyboard. If you go this route, you can install either a conventional keyboard like they use in Russia, or you can get what's called a "mnemonic keyboard" that puts Russian letters where your English-typing brain is used to finding those sounds--I highly recommend it unless  you plan on taking a typing class in Russia!

To add a new language and keyboard in Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the keyboard button in the lower right corner of your screen, in the taskbar.
  2. Click "Language Preferences", then "Add Language" on the "Region & language" page.
  3. Click the language you want to add and then click "Next".
  4. Decide whether you want the new language to be the default keyboard and whether or not you want to also download speech and handwriting programs (helpful in translation programs) and click "Install".
  5. At this point, you can either google an image of the keyboard layout you want to use  and then print it out and tape it to your computer screen, or order some stickers from Amazon (Prime) to put on your keys.

You're ready to enter information about your ancestors into your favorite genealogy software in Russian! 

Writing By Hand

I think the best video I've found that teaches Russian handwriting quickly and effectively is this one from RussianLessons.net:

Learning Russian Grammar

I like complex things to be broken down into tiny, digestible bites. So my favorite grammar reference is www.russianlessons.net. This website breaks grammar down and organizes it in a sensible way so it's not as big a deal to learn.

If you're smarter than I am and really good with grammar, you might also consider using masterrussian.com. These guys get into the nitty-gritty, really laying out all the rules in exact detail. If you're going to learn Russian online, this website will help you really brush up on your grammar.

Ru-Land Club

I found ru-land.club to be the most helpful though. They have lots and lots of great videos on their YouTube channel where Nika explains and demonstrates basic grammar principles and helpful language constructs.

She uses what she calls "collocations" to help beginners associate word endings with the appropriate context or phrases. This approach makes dealing with the cases a lot easier!

She is a Russian native with a master's degree in Russian Linguistics, and It shows. Her videos, though concise, contain a lot of information, so they can be a little bit much at first. Like watching sports broadcasts, the key to getting the most out of them is in the replay.

As she teaches you, she gradually speaks more and more Russian, so you become dependent on what you've already learned in lower level courses. Nika's videos will be a major help in your effort to learn Russian online.

Learning Russian Pronunciation and Comprehension

Natasha Speaks Russian

When you're ready to work on pronunciation and comprehension, I recommend natashaspeaksrussian.com. Her website has lots of text, with Russian and English side-by-side so you can read and see everyday Russian at work. Seeing words used in context like this is a great help for retention, and if you'll work at it, you'll find yourself picking up useful phrases and vocabulary, as well as learning grammar.

In the videos on her YouTube channel, she takes a unique approach. She will give a sentence or a phrase at normal Russian speed, then slow down and enunciate, then repeat at normal speed. This makes it really easy to mimic and repeat and know what she's saying, which in turn helps you with comprehension when she's going full speed. This is a great resource for learning Russian online!

Maria Zdorovyetskaya & Easy Russian Club

Once you've been studying for a while and you have had a chance to hear native speakers talk about learning Russian, you can give Maria Zdorovyetskaya a try. She makes a point of teaching Russian in Russian, with subtitles so you can follow along. This is a very helpful way to learn Russian online.

I recommend starting with her video about the "first rule of learning Russian". Just make out three words to learn. Study those, then come back and watch the video and notice how much more you understand. Keep picking out more words, studying, then coming back for more.

Once you can understand most of that one, give the videos for rules 2 & 3 a try. That third one is for intermediate learners, so I hope you know your stuff by then. She goes really fast!

She also has a YouTube channel, if you're interested in more of her videos.

Alexandra's Videos on RussianLessons.net

Russianlessons.net is also a good source for alphabet, grammar, pronunciation and comprehension learning. Here, you'll find Alexandra's videos where she introduces herself and talks about various subjects of common interest.

Learn Russian Online: Immersion, Exposure and Usage

It's really hard to develop a language without a way to hear native speakers talk, and without practicing. If you're going to learn Russian online, you'll need some online ways to immerse yourself in the language.

Russian Media

You can try your hand at watching Russian movies with English subtitles.

Read comics in Russian. (This website also has lots of other good Russian sources.)

Or order Russian movies on Amazon:

If you haven't yet, check out the rest of my genealogy resources.

Удачи в изучении русского языка онлайн! (Best of luck to you in your effort to learn Russian online!)