Are you looking for the best free resources to start speaking Russian? You are in the right place!
We have teamed up with Let’s Russia to host a virtual language exchange every Thursday at 8 pm Moscow time so you can learn Russian and practice speaking no matter where you live. You can sign up here.
There are so many great free resources to learn Russian that you shouldn’t feel you have to pay to speak Russian. That said there are some fantastic options if you are willing to pay a bit of money, but we will talk about those in another article.
Let’s start with how to learn to speak Russian for free (spoiler: it is possible). We are sharing many of the exact same resources we used to learn Russian.
The best way to learn Russian is to maximize the free resources available and practice as much as possible.
If you can understand everything in Russian, but can’t speak, it’s not terribly useful. We are going to provide you with the best resources to practice writing and speaking Russian. We will provide grammar resources and YouTube channels as well at the end of the article.
Many people will tell you that the best way to learn Russian is to go to a Russian-speaking country. We definitely encourage this as well, and we have a wealth of resources to help you go to Russia to work or explore. You can find all of them on our Russia landing page. But, let’s say you just can’t go to Russia right now, all is not lost. It is definitely possible to learn Russian from just about any country of the world with the help of the internet and Russians living abroad.
Let’s take a look at the best options for practice speaking Russian.
Active Russian Resources
There are two ways that you can practice, actively and passively. Active practice is either speaking or writing and passive practice is reading and listening. If you want to be successful in learning Russian, you must master active learning and practice.
If you live in a large city in most countries, you will probably be able to find a Russian meet-up in your city. For example, most American and European cities have active groups (before Covid) that would meet up and speak Russian. The best place to find these is to simply search on Google. Meetup.com is also a great resource.
We are a bit biased, but one of the best online Russian language exchanges is the one we host. Every Thursday, you can join us and practice your Russian at the Expatriant & Let’s Russia Online Language Exchange. We have only just started and it is completely free to join us and start speaking Russian. We hope to see you there!
For people who live in a country that makes it impossible to join our weekly online language exchange, there are still options. If you live in any capital city of the world, it is very likely there is a group of Russian expats. The question arises though, how do I find the Russians living in my city?
Well, the first and easiest way is to simply search for the name of your city in Russian. For example, Houston, Texas. You can search for “Русский Хьюстон” and the first result is a Facebook group. There are 13,000 members in the group in Houston. You can do this for any large city in the world. Sometimes you need to get a bit more creative in searching the web, but there are groups.
Once you join a Facebook group, just make a post about learning Russian and that you are looking for Russian friends. Russians are incredibly eager to make friends, especially in a foreign country. Use this to your advantage.
Language Exchange Websites
If you want to speak Russian, you need to learn to write in Russian as well (not necessarily by hand). The best way to learn to start typing in Russian is to find a language partner with whom you can chat. Thankfully, it is incredibly easy to find a language partner online these days.
If you are learning any language, the following websites will allow you to find a language partner. We think that this is a great way to get practice writing and communicating with someone in Russian. You need to be quite proactive though in searching for a partner. It is quite easy to strike up a conversation, but difficult to keep one going. If you make a point to chat to a few people every day, you will quickly have a number of people with whom you can discuss life in Russian.
Hello Talk was the original language exchange app founded in 2012. Today, millions of people use the app around the world. There are thousands of Russian speakers online at any given moment. The app is a bit dated compared to some of its more recent competition, but it is still the best online language exchange because of its massive user base.
Tandem Language Exchange is a new service that is very similar to Hello Talk. It has over 10 million users and we have never had trouble messaging and speaking Russian in a matter of minutes. There are some paid features that are not worth spending your money on.
iTalki is a language teaching platform that while not free, you can definitely teach a few classes in your own language and use that money to buy lessons with a native Russian speaker.
To progress quickly, you need to start speaking Russian as often as possible. Unless you live in a Russian-speaking country, you are going to have to be proactive about it. Between language meetups and online language exchanges, you should have no trouble getting an hour of practice a day writing and speaking Russian.
Passive Russian Resources
Most people are pretty good at passive practice, you can do everything by yourself. There are also endless materials out there to use. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites in case you are having trouble finding the right resources.
Without a doubt, if you are learning Russian, YouTube is the best resource for practice listening to Russian.
There are so many great channels to start learning Russian and practicing your listening skills. For beginners, we recommend the following channels for their introductory nature. As you progress though, you will need to start looking for regular Russian language content.
Our favorite channels to start practicing Russian are:
Once you find that you can understand most of what is said in these videos, start looking for videos and YouTubers who produce content about anything you are interested in. There is so much Russian content on YouTube. It should be quite easy!
Invariably, as you practice speaking, you will realize that it isn’t terribly efficient to ask about every mistake. In addition, you will find that many native Russian speakers are not the best at explaining complex Russian grammar topics. We actually believe that only highly educated Russian language teachers are able to really explain Russian grammar.
The average Russian knows very little about Russian grammar despite being able to speak correctly. You have the exact same situation in your native language. Can you explain the differences in the 12 basic English tenses and when to use each one? Unless you are an English teacher, the answer is most likely no. Of course, you know how to use them intuitively when speaking, but the answer to why you use one or the other can actually be quite difficult to explain to someone learning English.
In order to help you with Russian grammar, there are some fantastic resources that we used when learning to speak Russian.
For questions about Russian grammar, cases, verbs of motion, verbal aspect, and other complexities of the Russian language, we like the following websites.
If you are looking for easy explanations of Russian grammar our favorite site is, by far, Russian Lessons.net. There are articles with easy-to-understand explanations for each aspect of Russian grammar. This was our number one free resource while we were learning Russian.
For even more content and Russian grammar explanations and examples, we highly recommend Master Russian. The site is a bit more cluttered, and it can be hard to find exactly what you are looking for sometimes, Master Russian is still a great resource.
Another great resource for practicing Russian grammar is hosted by Russia Today. They have a portal with an entire language course called Learn Russian. It is very thorough and for those of you who like practice exercises, it is one of the best free resources available. The grammar explanations leave a bit to be desired though.
Between the three of these sites, we see no reason why you must buy a Russian language textbook.
Hopefully, you have seen that it isn’t as hard as you thought to start speaking Russian from any corner of the world. Russian is not an easy language, but Russian speakers are incredibly friendly to those who choose to study their language.
If you use all the resources in this article as often as possible, you will be speaking Russian in no time. The most important part of any language learning adventure is that you immerse yourself as much as possible in the language. Today, this is incredibly easy. You can listen to Russian music, watch Russian tv shows, speak with Russians in your home city, and message Russians anywhere in the world. There are few limits to learning and speaking Russian, so get out there and do your best.
Let us know what you struggle with learning to speak Russian in the comments below.