If you really want to learn a language, immersion is always the best option and learning Russian in Moscow is a great option for anyone looking to improve their Russian language skills. Fortunately, there are language schools in Moscow to fit any budget. Hopefully, we can walk you through everything you need to know before heading off to learn Russian in Moscow.
Why should I learn Russian?
There are so many reasons why you should learn Russian, but we think the following reasons are some of the best.
- Russian is the second most prevalent language on the internet and one of the world’s most spoken languages.
- Very few Russians speak English.
- Very few foreigners speak Russian well.
- Learning Russian opens the largest country in the world up for exploration.
- Learning Russian will allow you to understand one of the most amazing (and often misunderstood) cultures of the world.
Why learn Russian in Moscow?
As we mentioned above, immersion is usually the best language learning strategy, but some cities are better than others. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of learning Russian in Moscow:
- An exciting, dynamic city of over 15 million people
- The cultural capital of Russia (despite what people from St. Petersburg argue otherwise)
- A large number of language schools to choose from
- Fantastic nightlife and entertainment options
- Many excellent restaurants and interesting food markets
- The younger population is very interested in learning (and speaking) English (making it difficult to actually speak Russian if you are a beginner)
- The relatively high cost of living (especially compared to the rest of Russia)
- Unbelievably bad traffic
- Harsh winters
The reasons for and against learning Russian in Moscow could go on forever. Frankly, it comes down to how much progress you really want to make during your stay in Russia.
The biggest downside of studying Russian in Moscow is that there are so many distractions from learning Russian. There is so much to do and see that even if you are there for 3 months, you won’t even scratch the surface. Combine this with the international, cosmopolitan atmosphere and it’s likely you won’t even feel like you are in Russia at times.
If you are determined to make as much progress as possible during a shorter stay in Moscow (less than one month), we would encourage you to look at language schools in other cities of Russia, especially if you are a beginner. This is because you will quickly find that Russians are incredibly friendly, and younger Russians are very interested and determined to learn English. As a beginner, you will find that it is almost impossible to speak any Russian outside of your language classes. This leads to frustration fast and a smaller city where English is spoken significantly less will be helpful.
As an upper-intermediate to advanced Russian learner, the opportunities to perfect your Russian are endless in Moscow. As we mentioned above, there is so much to do and see and it will be much easier to truly immerse yourself in the Russian language if you can already speak. You will also find it easier to speak Russian as you will have passed the typical English proficiency of most younger Russians. If you can speak Russian better than they speak English, you will speak significantly more Russian.
In order to really speak Russian in Moscow, you need to speak better Russian than the average Russian speaks English. This is more difficult in Moscow, but even there, English proficiency is very low compared to Europe.
Should I learn Russian in Moscow at a language school or university?
When you start looking at where to learn Russian in Moscow, you will quickly find that there are two different types of places where you can study, language schools and universities. Which one you choose doesn’t matter that much, but it depends on what you are looking for.
Russian language schools are typically much more flexible in the options they provide to potential students. They almost always offer group or individual lessons, with a myriad of scheduling options and different levels of intensity from a few lessons to 20, or even 30 lessons a week. If you are looking to come for less than a month, language schools are usually your only option as most universities have courses that range from a month-long to an entire academic year.
Russian language schools are usually more expensive per hour of instruction as well. You can take a look below at the costs per hour at different language schools. This is likely due to the fact that many people are coming and going and in order to have flexible class scheduling, they need to have more groups. Flexibility costs more, just as it does anywhere else.
Any university that accepts international students will also have Russian language courses. In Moscow, there are so many universities that the options are endless. The problem is that universities in Russia vary significantly in quality.
If you are looking to study long term in Moscow, for at least a month or more, you have the option of studying at a Russian university. These courses are usually taught by older teachers who have years of experience and are also quite cheap. Some universities charge as little as $4 an hour for group lessons.
In addition to cheap prices for lessons, most universities will provide dorm room accommodation for students. This can also be as low as $5 a day (even less if you enter a degree program).
If you are going to be in Moscow for a longer period of time, we highly recommend that you consider studying at a university. It will be cheaper and provide high-quality teaching.
How much does it cost to learn Russian in Moscow?
The best part about studying Russian in Moscow is that there are so many language schools that it can be as cheap or expensive as you like. Price and quality vary so much that it makes deciding where to study very difficult.
In Russia, more so than many places, a higher price is definitely not a reflection of higher quality. In Moscow, in particular, you will find that many times the opposite is true. The lower the price (within reason), the better the quality. University language lessons are typically the best and the cheapest option. The only problem is that you usually must study for a month or more. Some universities require a full semester or even a full academic year.
Generally, the price for group lessons ranges from $4 to $20 an hour. This is obviously a large disparity, especially when you are considering studying for a month or more. The difference in cost will be thousands of dollars.
The price for individual lessons ranges from $17 to $56 an hour. This disparity is just as large.
The next section on where to study Russian in Moscow has price information for a variety of different Russian language schools and universities.
Where to learn Russian in Moscow
There are quite a few language schools where you can learn Russian in Moscow. We have compiled a list of the schools, which have a strong reputation in Russia as well as some cheaper schools that do not even have English language pages.
Which school to choose depends highly on your level of Russian. If you are a complete beginner, quality is much more important than cost. You need to attend courses that will give you a strong foundation for learning the language. The more advanced you are speaking Russian, you can probably afford to spend less just to have more practice speaking.
The most popular Russian language schools in Moscow are the following (in no particular order):
- National Education Center (Site has limited information in English)
- Group lessons – $11 per hour
- Individual lessons – $17 per hour
- Rus Language
- Group lessons – $13 per hour
- Individual lessons – $22 per hour
- Intensiv (Site has limited information in English)
- Group lessons – $9 per hour
- Liden & Denz
- Group lessons – $16 per hour
- Individual lessons – $45 per hour
- Big Ben
- Group lessons – $13
- Individual lessons – $32
- Group lessons – $14
- Individual lessons – $30
- MGU Russian (Not affiliated with Moscow State University)
- Group lessons – $10
- Individual lessons – $22
- Moscow International Higher Business School Mirbis
- Group lessons – $7.50
- Individual lessons – $25
- DiveLang Language School (No English language site)
- Group lessons – $7
- Individual lessons – $36
- Moscow State Linguistic University
- Group lessons – $10.50
- Individual lessons – $38
- Razgovor (Site has limited information in English)
- Group lessons – $8
- Individual lessons – $20
- Moscow State University
- Group lessons – $8
- Pushkin State Language Institute (The most popular option)
- Individual lessons – $4
- Ambergh Education
- Group lessons – $20
- Individual lessons – $56
- CESA Languages Abroad
- Group lessons – $18
- Individual lessons – $48
- Itec School of Foreign Languages (Site has limited information in English)
- Group lessons – $7
- Individual lessons – $26
- Lingua Seasons
- Group lessons – $14
- Individual lessons – $20
Where to stay while living in Moscow
Most language schools will offer some sort of accommodation package in addition to the language lessons. It is very rare that any packages advertised include accommodation, but sometimes there are packages that are all-inclusive.
Depending on whether you are studying at a language school or a university, the accommodation options will vary. Many Russian universities offer accommodation in their dorm rooms and it is very cheap. Language schools will often offer host family stays as a way to bolster your language learning opportunities. The other option is to rent an apartment or stay in a hotel or hostel. All of these options have their advantages and disadvantages.
A dorm or obshaga as they are known to Russian university students offer a very basic level of accommodation. A dorm room is a similar size to any Western university but in Russia, they typically hold 3 or 4 students.
Be ready for a communal experience if you choose this option. For some strange reason in Russia, international students are almost always in a dorm room together. This can make it frustrating for you to actually practice speaking Russian.
Prices for dorm room accommodation vary drastically from university to university. The typical price is about $5 to $10 a day. This sounds incredibly cheap, but most Russian university students pay about $15 to $20 a month for the same space. Don’t be surprised to see language schools offering a dorm room at a university for $30 or more a day. We don’t advise studying at a school that charges such high rates for dorm room accommodation.
Host family stays are a great way to have more Russian practice while you are in Moscow. Typically, host family stays cost about $20 to $30 a day. While this may sound quite cheap, you need to understand that you will be staying with a family. It could be an older couple or a younger family with children. This will affect your ability to come and go as you please.
The last option is to find your own accommodation and your choices will highly depend on how long you plan to learn Russian in Moscow. If you are coming for a short period of time, for example, less than a month, it will be very hard for you to find an apartment or room in an apartment. Your only options will be AirBnB or a hotel.
If you are coming to Moscow for a month or longer, or even a few months, it is a great idea to try to find an apartment in Moscow or rent a room in an apartment with roommates. You can also try renting an apartment by yourself, but most landlords in Russia will want you to sign a one year lease though exceptions exist.
If you are looking for roommates, check out the following Facebook groups:
The real estate section at expat.ru is another good option if you are looking for potential apartment and room rentals.
For more information about living in Moscow, check out our guide to moving to Russia as an expat.
Tips for learning Russian in Moscow
Once you are in Moscow, your lessons alone won’t be enough to become fluent in Russian. They are a great start and are good to keep you on track, but if you really want to become fluent in Russian, you need to get out there and speak as much as possible.
While you aren’t speaking or taking lessons, it is important to make Russian a large part of your daily routine. Duolingo on its own won’t help you speak Russian, but the constant use of the app for beginner and intermediate learners will certainly help.
Here are some of the best resources to supplement your languages courses:
As we mentioned above, it will be difficult in the beginning to speak Russian in Moscow because so many people will be interested in speaking English with you. Don’t get discouraged. There are a few Russian language meetup groups in Moscow that you can attend to get more practice. You can find these on Meetup, Internations, and Couchsurfing.
If you are willing to pay for a private Russian tutor, do not pay the rates that the language schools charge. There are so many options in Moscow that it simply doesn’t make sense to spend a premium on language school Russian tutors.
Russia has a very developed market of private tutors for just about any subject, and Russian as a foreign language is no exception. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the sites to find a local tutor are only in Russian. The best and most popular site is Vash Repititor. On Vash Repititor, you can search for a tutor yourself or fill out a form and have potential tutors reach out to you.
The other option for private tutors is to use one of the international language exchange sites like iTalki. We believe that iTalki is a fantastic supplement to language learning once you have attained an intermediate level of speaking. The prices per lesson with a native speaker can be very cheap, but they usually aren’t certified. In our experience, this doesn’t matter much if you understand that you are getting paid language practice. Usually, the teachers will simply speak with you for an hour and point out your mistakes. If you are diligent, this should be the best value after a certain point.
What kind of visa do I need to learn Russian in Moscow?
Depending on how long you anticipate staying in Moscow and your country of citizenship, you may need a visa. For more information on visas, check out our Ultimate Guide to Russian Visas.
If you are from a Western country, you will need a visa for any stay in Russia. Tourist visas are granted for up to 30 days for most countries, though Americans may apply for a 3-year tourist visa.
There is a myth that you must have a student visa to study Russian in Russia, this is NOT true. To study at a university, this is the case, but a work visa also allows study at a Russian university.
If you are an American looking to learn Russian in Moscow for 6 months or less, it will be easiest to apply for a tourist visa and will likely be cheaper. A tourist invitation can be had from iVisa for $20, whereas language schools charge considerably more. With the tourist invitation, you can apply for a Russian tourist visa from VisaHQ or in person at the consulate.
For citizens of other countries, you will likely need a student visa if you are looking to learn Russian in Moscow for 30 days or more. As the rules for applying vary significantly by country and citizenship please refer to your local Russian consulate.