Useful app for beginner Russian learners
RussianPod101 is a languge learning app and online platform that teaches Russian. It uses podcast-style lessons that let you hear conversations between native speakers. Everything is explained in English so it’s easy to follow along, but there might be too much English once you reach an advanced level
- Extensive lesson library
- Easy-to-follow lessons
- Focus on listening and understanding native speakers
- Too much English used
- Not good for advanced learners
- No speaking practice, except for listen-and-repeat
Table of Contents
RussianPod101 is part of the Innovative Language Learning series. It has a ton of audio and video lessons, along with practice exercises, that help teach the ins and outs of the Russian language. The learning pathways guide you through the 5 different levels, from absolute beginner to advanced. There are also many other language learning resources that you can find by exploring the platform, such as a grammar bank and vocabulary lists.
RussianPod101 is an excellent way to learn Russian. It starts with the basics, such as introducing yourself and common greetings. Everything is explained in English so it’s easy to understand. It’s a useful app to practice listening and vocabulary, but there isn’t much speaking practice. You can listen and repeat, but there isn’t any feedback on your speaking. While it’s a good app for beginners, some of the advanced lessons are a little lacking.
RussianPod101 offers a few free lessons and practice activities, but it’s very limited. To access more content, there are 3 paid subscription levels. You can pay monthly or pay for up to 24 months. It’s cheaper the more months you pay for in advance. A basic subscription costs $4.00-$8.00 per month. A Premium subscription costs $10.00-$25.00 per month, and Premium+ subscription costs $23.00-47.00 per month.
The free access includes a handful of lessons from each level, but it’s not enough to learn Russian. The Basic subscription gives you access to all the lessons, but not to all of the additional study material. The Premium subscription includes all lessons and study material available on the site, but not access to a 1-on-1 teacher, which is only available with a Premium+ subscription.
RussianPod101 is unique because it offers some free content in addition to many different levels of subscription. Babbel and Rosetta Stone are other options that offer self-study lessons with the option of having live classes for an additional price. If you are looking for a cheaper option, MosaLingua, Mondly, and Duolingo are inexpensive alternatives. Since the Premium+ subscription is costly because you recieve feedback from a Russian tutor, you might consider other platforms that give you direct access to a teacher such as italki or Verbling.
You can access a 7-day free trial just by entering and confirming your email address. The trial lets you use everything included in a Premium membership, so you have access to all the lessons and study materials available. The only feature you cannot use with the free trial is the 1-on-1 tutoring from a Russian teacher.
RussianPod101 offers many discounts so no need to pay full price. When sign-up, you are offered 2 discounts. The first is a special $1 deal that is only available at the time you sign up. This deal gives you access to all the features included in a Premium subscription for 30 days for the cost of $1.00.
The second offer you receive when you sign up is 10% off if you upgrade to a paid subscription during the free trial period. I was frequently offered other discounts and coupon codes in a banner at the top of my dashboard and through email.
Students can receive a discount. With a one-year subscription to any of the plans, you can receive 20% off. You do not have to have a valid student email address to receive this discount.
RussianPod101 is one of the easiest apps to get started with. All you need to do is confirm your email address and enter a password. Next, you answer a few questions to help you get started. Then you choose your level: absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, upper-intermediate, or advanced. There is no placement test to determine your level. You choose what level you think you are based on a few criteria. It’s really easy to change your level if you think that the lessons are too easy or too difficult. I chose the absolute beginner level because I don’t know much Russian.
Once I chose my level, it was time to start learning! RussianPod101 gave me a specific Pathway to follow for my level. A Pathway is a series of lessons that guides you through the level and, in theory, teaches you enough to start the next level when you finish all the lessons. There are also tons of lessons and study material in addition to the level-specific pathways.
Getting started is easy, but learning Russian was difficult for me and I see why it’s considered one of the most difficult languages. There are often common challenges that language learners face. Let’s look at these challenges to see if RussianPod101 can help overcome them.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when beginning a new language. I think this is especially true with languages that have a different alphabet, such as Russian which uses the Cyrillic alphabet. I thought that RussianPod101 did a good job of easing me into the language. They only teach a small number of new words and concepts in each lesson, so I was able to learn quickly. The lesson notes are helpful to read and understand.
RussianPod101 is a good resource for learning a lot of vocabulary. It includes 20-60 new words and phrases in each lesson. There are also a ton of additional resources to practice vocabulary. One of my favorites was the list of the 100 Most Common Words. As you improve, you can go as high as 2,000 Most Common Words. There are also other features such as a dictionary and Word of the Day emails.
Since each lesson includes a dialogue between two native speakers, it’s easy to train your ear to understand Russian. In the lesson notes, there are lots of audio snippets that you can play. You can listen to the dialogue again and hear the correct pronunciation of the vocabulary words.
But like most language learning apps, there isn’t a lot of authentic speaking practice. During the lessons, you repeat after the teacher, but this isn’t an effective way to practice speaking, and won’t help you become conversational.
With RussianPod101 you are in charge of your learning. There aren’t many features that help you stay on track, such as frequent notifications or daily goals. On the dashboard, you can track your progress by seeing how much time you spent on the app and what lessons you completed.
In general, I liked using RussianPod101. Since I’m at a beginner level, I liked the audio lessons that explained all the topics. The lesson notes that are included with each lesson are very detailed. I’m a visual learner, so being able to read through the transcripts was helpful. I also went back and played the audio clips of the dialogue and vocabulary words to listen and practice the correct pronunciation.
Podcast-style lessons aren’t my favorite way to learn, but these were pretty good and kept my attention. Mostly because I enjoyed learning about Russian culture and how it affects the language, like the difference between formal and informal language. When I was tired of listening to the lesson, there were a lot of other practice activities I could do.
As is the case with most language apps, the advanced level is not as developed as the beginning and intermediate levels. For example, the 2nd level, which corresponds with an A2 level, has 80 lessons with a total of 20 hours of lesson time. But the advanced level, which corresponds with a B2-C1 level, only has 35 lessons with a total of 6 hours and 35 minutes of lessons.
And even at the advanced level, most of the lesson is still taught in English. As a former language teacher myself, I believe that exposure to the language is key in the advanced stages, and once a learner reaches an intermediate level, almost all of the lesson should be taught in the target language. To really hear how Russian is spoken and practice conversation, you might need to take a class with a teacher on a platform like italki or find a language partner through an app like Tandem or HelloTalk.
It’s only a minor complaint, but I would like to see more integration between all of the material available. When you choose the level you want to learn, you are given a Learning Pathway, but there is so much more available on the platform. For example, there are lessons to read and write Cyrillic, and a grammar bank, but they aren’t integrated into the pathways. But these are important elements that need to be learned and I had to dig around to find everything. Other apps like Rocket Russian and Pimsleur have their courses laid out very clearly.
RussianPod101 is an excellent choice for learning Russian, but maybe it isn’t the right app for you. There are many alternatives out there. Other similar apps that include audio lessons are Rocket Russian and Pimsleur. If you prefer shorter lessons that you don’t have to listen to, you could try Rosetta Stone or Babbel. If you want to practice a specific skill, like vocabulary, Drops and Duolingo are good choices. To practice speaking, you can take classes with a live Russian teacher on a site like italki or Verbling.
RussianPod101 and Rocket Russian are very similar apps. They both use audio lessons with practice activities. Rocket Russian follows a strict course layout with few additional features. RussianPod101 is more loosely-structured with lots of additional material apart from the lessons. RussianPod101 offers a monthly subscription, but with Rocket Russian you pay by the level. I like RussianPod101 better because it has more content and I like the monthly payment option. If you’d like to learn more about Rocket Russian, you can check out this review.
Babbel and RussianPod101 use different approaches to their lessons. RussianPod101 has longer lessons that you listen to, while Babbel uses shorter, interactive lessons. RussianPod101 is better for understanding native speakers because the lessons include conversations with native speakers. Babbel is better for people who only have a few minutes to dedicate to learning or are learning on the go. I like Babbel more because sometimes I only have time to complete one or two lessons a day. If you think Babbel might be right for you, you can read more about it in this review.
RussianPod101 is a standalone app that can be used to learn all parts of the Russian language, but Drops is only for practicing vocabulary. Drops has a cool design and uses technology like spaced repetition that brings up words you already learned before you forget them. The monthly price of drops is similar to the Basic subscription of RussianPod101. If you are looking to use only one app, RussianPod101 is more useful for learning all parts of the language. But if you want a supplemental app for learning vocabulary, I prefer Drops. If you are interested in Drops, you can read more about it in this review.
RussianPod101 and Duolingo have different styles of lessons. While RussianPod101 uses longer, audio lessons, Duolingo has short interactive lessons that can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Duolingo has a free version with ads, but even Duolingo Plus is inexpensive. If you are just starting, I would try out Russian with Duolingo to see if you want to keep going, but if you already know some Russian, RussianPod101 is a better choice with its detailed lessons. To learn more about Duolingo, you can read this review.
Yes, RussianPod101 is a good choice for people interested in learning Russian. The detailed audio lessons use native speakers to explain important vocabulary and grammar topics. There is also a large emphasis placed on culture and how it affects the language.
RussianPod101 had 3 paid subscription levels. You can pay by the month or pay for up to 24 months. A basic subscription costs $4.00-$8.00 per month. A Premium subscription costs $10.00-$25.00 per month, and Premium+ subscription costs $23.00-47.00 per month.
Yes, RussianPod101 is a real language learning app. It is one of the courses developed by Innovative Language Learning and has thousands of users.
RussianPod101 offers some content for free. You can access the first 3 lessons of every pathway and get a few new lessons each week. If you want to access more content, there are 3 different paid subscriptions.
This is an independent RussianPod101 review, and the company has not sponsored this article. To write this review, I used the 7-day free trial to the app and used it for a few hours to thoroughly test its content and features. I also found additional information on the Innovative Language Learning website to verify my findings.