Resources for Students of Russian

Published: March 21, 2020

This extensive list of web resources to assist students learning the Russian language was developed by SRAS and is now hosted on Folkways, part of the SRAS Family of Sites!

Table of Contents:

3. Online Russian Lessons
    A. For Teachers & Adv. Students
    B. Especially for Beginners

7. Computers and Language

1.Basic Dictionaries

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Multitran is an online crowdsourced dictionary. It’s a fantastic resource for those hard-to-find translations of abbreviations and technical terms as well a good general dictionary. Search online in Russian or English or download the program for free. However, it sometimes strives to be too large, inserting strange, highly regional, and/or dated translations.

Gramota.ru has an amazing Russian-Russian dictionary that has one feature many online dictionaries don’t – the stress vowel is clearly marked in every word!

Linguee gives translations of words and shows how certain words, phrases or even sentences have already been translated by other people by using several professionally-produced bi-lingual sites.

Translate.academic.ru gives not only translations but also background info about words and phrases.

Abbyy Lingvo offers both a downloadable and an online dictionary (which requires an account). Stress is marked voice recordings will also give you the proper pronunciation. This was developed by a Russian software company that developed one of the world’s first electronic dictionaries!

Bab.la is a user-participatory dictionary with a fairly extensive phrase book and verb conjugation resources.

Russian Grammatical Dictionary gives translation and the grammatical forms of Russian words.

 

2. Specialty Dictionaries and Resources

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Vasmer’s Etymological Dictionary is useful for more advanced speakers.

Slovar Dalya is from the 19th century, but still very commonly used in Russia.

Idioms.chat.ru offers a massive collection of Russian idioms with pictures and translations.

CoolJugator specializes in verbs – see how they conjugate and translate with their intuitive interface.

Lurkmore and Slovonovo document Internet memes, modern slang, uses of profanity, and more.

Slovar.lib is a collection of literary terms in Russian.

Gramota.ru is a Russian language site aimed at improving the Russian spoken within Russia. Obviously its materials are intended for native speakers, but advanced students will find the games, dictionaries, and information listed here great!

LanguageDaily.com offers a database of Russian names, their diminutives, and thier meanings (given in English). Imya.com offers a similar, more extensive, all-Russian database.

Slovopedia and has an impressive list of Russian-Russian online dictionaries.

SOKR.ru is a Russian-only database of Russian acronyms.

The National Corpus is a resource that allows users to search for words, morphology, and more.

GAAP.ru provides a helpful English-Russian glossary of accounting terms.

The Museum of Russian Icons hosts two free, downloadable dictionaries. One is a Russian-English dictionary of over 1400 saints’ names. The other is a dictionary of words commonly found in the field of icon studies.

 

3. Online Russian Lessons

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Categories in this section are very loosely defined and there is a substantial amount of cross-over. Beginners are likely to find good material in the advanced section and teachers will likely be interested in all sections. These categories have been created only to allow users to find what will likely be the most helpful resources for their purposes the fastest.

A. For Teachers & Adv. Students

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Full Courses can be found at Heritage Russian, for heritage speakers, and Beginning Russian Through Film, which uses Russian classic films and accompanying study materials to build language skills. Paid experiences, with tutors/teachers, can be found at Tips4Russian, with a course on verbs of motion, as well as Pushkin Institute, Pa-russki.com, LiveLingua, and Linguisticator.

Authentic Materials! Olga’s Blog and Моя Россия offer short texts in simplified Russian written by young Russians about their lives and views and glossed for vocabulary and (often) grammar. Один день из моей жизни is a LiveJournal page devoted to documenting average days lived by ordinary folks.

More online lessons and course materials: see Cornell University, Russificate, Business Russian IC, or Quia. For still more lessons, that you will need at least an account to access, but which often offer more lessons with more structure, see Russnet.org, Molodets!, MERLOT, TeachRussian.org, or GLOSS. On YouTube, try Amazing Russian and Russian Grammar for short lectures on pronunciation, vocab, and grammar.

Literature based: Try Russian Language Learning on the Web (lessons drawn from Golden and Silver Age classics), Reading Russian Short Stories (presents very short stories from Pelevin to Gorky), University of Kansas (literature, history, and more), Russian Literature Podcasts (classic stories with transcripts with stress marked), The Annotated Afanas’ev Library (folklore), Uchites (literature and social issues), and Lingro.com (turn any webpage into a language lesson and build vocab flash cards).

Current events based: Try GeoHistory’s or MuseumStudiesAbroad’s semi-regular side-by-side translations of current news. LuchSveta.org follows a similar format but is no longer updated. With an account, you can try Foreigncy.us for lessons based on current news articles.

Bilingual recipes: Take a look at Folkway’s Cookbook for Eurasian foods, with histories, bilingual recipes, and cooking videos.

Writing practice: Lang-8 allows you to keep a journal in a foreign language – which native speakers correct for you. InterPals runs a similar pen pal matching service. (Account creation required.)

Speaking practice: Scrabbin is a social networking site for online language exchanges. Similar services are offered by RosettaStone, LiveMocha, MyLanguageExchange, Verbling, iTalki, Tandem, and Mixxer. You can work on your pronunciation privately with Forvo.

Listening practice: Ruslan, RAILS, and Golosa provide free material that can be used independently of the books that most are connected to. For a podcast experience, with transcripts available, try Ochen po-Russki, 3ears, Raketa, Shkola Zhizni, Russian Popcorn, and Spoonful of Russian. RussianPodcast.eu also offers similar, but the transcripts and accompanying lessons are paid services. To learn through music (with written lyrics), try PopKult, Russian via Songs, SovMusic.ru,

Vocab building: Russian MiniLessons offer a wide variety of short text in English/Russian meant to build vocabulary skills. Russian.Word and Kto_Smeli are Instagram accounts giving Russian vocabulary lessons.

CCPCR Database of Russian Texts is an extensive list of recommended books for use in Russian college programs.

Books to Learn Russian
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B. Especially for Beginners

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Beginners’ full courses online: SemesterRus, Russian for Everyone, Alpha Dictionary, Russian from Scratch, Beginner’s Russian, Между нами, for free and independent experiences. Paid courses with tutors/teachers can be found from Pushkin Institute, Pa-russki.com, LiveLingua, and Linguisticator.

YouTube:

Flashcards! Interlex offers a free, downloadable flashcard program. AccelaStudy is a talking flashcard iPhone app. Quizlet, WordSteps and Memrise are apps for building and scheduling custom vocabulary exercises.

Basics: for those looking for some light exercises, try Russian with Anastasia, a YouTube channel that gives a lot of basic Russian language in authentic situations. Russian Step by Step, which is a site developed for children, but is fun for anyone. Language Guide offers a few picture-based vocabulary lessons. Digital Dialects has several games for beginner language learners. Russian Word of the Day is a blog aimed at first- and second-year students of Russian.

 

4. Audio/Video

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Some sites require Realplayer which is available for free download.

Note that some of these categories are also covered in the “Online Lessons” section above. The below gives ADDITIONAL options, but generally without glossing, accompanying materials, etc.

A. Television and Video

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SPBTV is an Apple app lets you watch Russian TV for free on your Apple products.

First Channel and Russia Channel, Russia’s #1 and #2 TV Channels, offer live streaming.

Fontanka.TV and Kulturaonline offer lectures, theater performances, interviews and more.

Dozhd (Rain) is a cable and Internet station that provides news and cultural programing with a liberal tint. Its main site hosts many programs and their transcripts, although most of it now is now available only as a paid service.

TVCenter, owned by the Moscow City Administration, gives partial or full transcripts for most of its news videos online.

Carousel is Russia’s main kid’s channel. Several of its programs are online and most feature hosts speaking slowly and carefully about sport, art, and other subjects.

Roscosmos, Russia’s space program, has a series of interesting short films online.

TV For All provides a handful of online television stations, mostly education and news oriented. Not all are always available.

B. Movies, Music, and Radio

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PopKult offers loads of information on musicians, TV shows, movies, and more from the late Soviet era to the current day. Most have YouTube clips provided, along with descriptions and, where possible, lyrics in the original language. PopKult is a part of the SRAS family of sites.

Where to Find Russian Movies and Music Online is a directory of YouTube Channels and other resources that provide access to legal sources of movies, music, and even food.

Staroe Radio offers thousands of old Soviet/Russian radio programs including plays, songs, interviews, and more. Some of the files are not great quality (they are old) but the site is very interesting.

Echo Moskvy is one of Russia’s most famous and respected talk-radio stations. Shows are available in mp3 format for easy download and often come with written transcripts.

Radio Kul’tura is essentially Russia’s NPR with music, news, and other programming.

Voice of Russia Radio provides music, news, and literature from Russia in sound and print.

Far From Moscow is a resource for genres you don’t hear on most radio stations (think folktronica)

C. Spoken Literature

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Spoken prose and audio books: My-Chekhov.ru, LoyalBooks.com, Auguo.com.

Poetry: RussianPoetry.net, Anna.Ahmatova.com, Stihi.ru.

D. Podcasts

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Перевод жив is YouTube channel with video lectures, running between 8 and 20 minutes, which talk about specific aspects of translation, interpretation, TI theory, and the training of translators and interpreters in an accessible and mildly entertaining manner.

PlayerFM has a number of podcasts on a number of topics.

PodFM is a list of mostly amateur Russian podcasts.

Business Podcasts offers Russian-language podcasts describing issues surrounding doing business in Russia.

Books to Learn Russian
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5. Russian Texts and Literature

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Note that some of these categories are also covered in the “Online Lessons” section above. The below gives ADDITIONAL options, but generally without glossing, accompanying materials, etc.

Theater Library of Sergei Efrimov offers several modern plays and monologues online in the original Russian.

Russian State Library offers many texts online.

Aichitalka and Chitai are apps for downloading modern Russian literature in e-book format.

Diafilm was a cultural icon of the Soviet Union – a series of children’s books produced as slide shows. This site reproduces some of those slide shows in html.

Solzhenitsyn.ru offers a complete Solzhenitsyn library with the author’s final versions of his texts and his notes and comments on them.

Lib.ru offer a staggering selection of materials on subjects ranging from computers to history to biology to literature. The site is all in Russian and a bit rag-tag in its appearance and organization, but it is the most comprehensive. Library.ru is a similar site that offers a sleeker appearance, but a much more limited selection.

Russkaya Fantastika is devoted to Russian fantasy and science fiction writers and their work.

Blogs are becoming a very popular way to practice language skills because of their modern language usage and often opinionated, interesting subject matter. Find Russian blogs at Yandex and LiveJournal. See Моя Россия on this site for an advanced, annotated language blog on modern life, history, sociology, and politics with the purpose of teaching the Russian language: not only its grammar and vocabulary but also its cultural meanings.

Comics from Russia offers comics based on Russian proverbs, fairy tales, and even Armenian history, as well as some popular comics from Russian periodicals. They even have a service specifically for students of Russian. However, be warned that the site can get a bit racy.

Electronic Library of Russian Literature and Folklore is a very good resource for those subjects.

Also see: F. Dostoevsky, L. Tolstoy, A. Chekhov, and A. Pushkin, these authors for young readers and these children’s authors. To see many of these authors in English translation, try searching for them on Gutenberg.org.

 

6. Local Russian Near You

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There are several newspapers focused on the Russian immigrants who live in English-speaking countries. Intermediate and advanced students will likely find these useful as practice to read local news – stories whose content they are likely already familiar with – in Russian. They also sometimes carry notification of local Russian-language and cultural events (which are likely more plentiful then you think).

BBCRussian.com presents interesting international news stories in simplified Russian.

RUHerald.com covers nine major American cities from New York to Los Angeles.

Rustrek covers a number of issues from immigration to the US, local NY news, and more.

Plainnews.ru is a news aggregator that can search by city (you’ll have put the city name in in Russian, however).

You might also try Brighton Beach News or Nash Texas.

There are also many print-only papers that serve local areas – there are several, for instance, around the Detroit, New York, Washington State, and Chicago areas. Try contacting the Russian Orthodox Church or local university Russian department to see if there is one near you.

RosConcert.com lists Russian cultural events taking place in the US and even offers online ticket purchase. Only downside is that the site is a strange mix of English and Russian…

Meetup.com is a free service connecting, amoung others, speakers and students of Russian in local communities. The groups have grown to more than a few hundred in some cities.

Russian-American Cultural Center is a new organization in New York that regularly hosts events and offers an attractive, informative website (mostly devoted to art). San Francisco also has a cultural center.

 

7. Computers and Language

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A. Computer Assisted Translation
There are many, many online translators out there. Google Translate offers one of the best services in terms of quality and convenience. You can use the web page to insert text or, if you use Google Chrome, you should be able to right-click any web page and chose an option to translate that page to English. Google’s is most useful as it draws its data from a massive database of collected bilingual texts from translations online to deliver machine translation based off human translations. There are many other translators, such as IMTraslator, Promt, and Babelfish. However, none have kept pace with Google’s growing sophistication. Google is not yet a human translator, and you should not trust it to give you complete comprehension of a text nor should you use it to, for instance, translate your resume. However, it is a helpful tool.

Human translators often use specialized computer programs that work similarly to Google’s – comparing a text against a database of preferred translations. These programs can be customized by the translator to recognize specific words, phrases, terms, etc. The end result is not a completed translation and still requires careful examination, proofreading, and rewriting in many parts, but they are useful professional tool and can speed the translator’s work. The most popular program for this is the long-standing Trados suite. It’s a professional program and a paid service. Similar programs include memoQ, Wordfast, Déjà Vu, and others. There are also a number of free programs now – such as OmegaT, Wordfast Anywhere, MateCat, and CafeTran, to name a very few.

That all said, again, while the technology is impressive and useful, we suggest you use it only as a tool – and not an actual translator! Computers still can’t speak human, and likely won’t be able to for some time.

B. Language Analysis and Corpora
Analyizing language can be a helpful tool in knowing how to translate a particular phrase, or knowing what words one should study to be able to read and understand a text.

Visualizing Russian, from researchers at Harvard, gives free tools for visualizing the frequency and difficulty of words with a text as well as a tool for creating texts that use specific vocabularly words.

Antconc is a freeware corpus analysis toolkit. WordSmith and Sketch Engine are not free, but are a bit sleeker. CasualConc is a concordancing tool for Mac.

C. Transliterated Keyboards and Typing in Cyrillic
For those who would like to type in Cyrillic without learning the Cyrillic keyboard try Russian Transliterated Keyboards or Russian for Gringos. Both will allow you to type with keys matched to roughly similar English letters, cutting your learning curve. However, you’ll only be able to type on such homophonic keyboards. If you would like to try homophonic typing without downloading or installing anything, try Translit.cc, a very handy online transliteration tool that allows you to do it online.

For those who would like to learn to type properly in Cyrillic, try Sense-lang.org, Typingstudy.com, Ratatype.com, Keybr.com (change the keyboard layout to Russian under “Settings”) or Staminaon.com. Mydiv.net gives a compendium of lots more options for learning how to type in Cyrillic, but does it completely in Russian.

D. Cyrillicizing Your Computer
Of course, to type in Cyrillic, you’ll first need to activate the function on your computer. AATSEEL offers advice on enabling Cyrillic on your computer and lists of fonts and drivers for Windows and Macintosh should you need them. George Washington University also offers advice on cyrillicizing computers, should you run into trouble – including in viewing Cyrillic webpages, etc. Russification of Macintosh offers more troubleshooting solutions for Macs.

E. Adding Stress
Russiangram.com is a free resource that will automatically add stress to any Russian text. They also offer an app and a chrome extension that will add them to whole webpages.

F. Decoding Gibberish
If you have a webpage or email written in little boxes or slashes where Cyrillic should be, try Universal Cyrillic Decoder, Automatic Cyrillic Decoder, or Decoder Lebedeva.

G. Fonts
AATSEEL offers several medieval Slavic fonts. The Non-Roman Script Initiative strives to provide fonts for minority language groups and includes resources for Cyrillic. Allfont.ru offers a few thousand more, in case you need them.

H. Spellcheck
Hyroglif is a spellcheck program that can check several languages including Russian. The site is all in Russian.

I. Subtitles
Want to make subtitles for Russian films? Submerge is great (and very cheap) for Mac users. Kapwing.com allows you to add basic subtitles online. You can also check out this list of freeware for making subtitles – for users of all types of computers.

About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh has lived in Moscow since 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian at MGU through SRAS. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik: The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies. In addition, he serves as Communications Director to Alinga Consulting Group and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

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