If you’ve ever wanted to learn and speak Russian on your on terms, in a few minutes a day…
…then this might be for you.
And I say “a few minutes” because the lessons are 3-15 minutes long. So, let’s get into the RussianPod101 review.
RussianPod101 is an online Russian learning program:
- Type of program? Self-study program/website with an option of an on-site, online teacher
- How you learn: With 3-15 minute Audio/Video lessons (over 1000+)
- Other features: PDF Lesson Notes, Study Tools (Flashcards, Word of the Day. Top 2000 Word List, Voice Recorder & More)
- Who’s it for? For all learning levels: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
- Free & Paid subscriptions
- What are its Strengths? Speaking/listening and general vocab acquisition.
- For what devices? Any iPhone, iPad, Android, Tablet or Computer
I think their lessons are the main attraction. So, how does it work?
RussianPod101 Review for May 2019
You join, you set your learning level (from Absolute Beginner to Advanced) and they give you audio/video lessons.
Your job is to press play, listen or watch, and follow along.
For most lessons, you will hear a basic conversation.
Here’s an example:
- Absolute Beginner S1 #1 – Meet the Russian Bi-Lingual Fabio
- Click here to see the lesson on RussianPod101.com
Then the teachers break the conversation down and explain every word.
So, it’s like listening in on a conversation between natives, except you’re with someone who translates what they’re saying. This all takes about 3-15 minutes, depending on the lesson and level. By the end, you should understand it all. And, if you’re brave enough to open your mouth and repeat, you could probably speak as well.
Then… the lessons also come with a Dialogue Audio Track, Review Track Lesson Notes. a Transcript, a Vocab Section, Voice Recording Tools, and the line-by-line Dialogue (conversation broken down into individual lines ) section of the lesson.
Basically, stuff to help you understand the conversation you heard.
Dialogue Track: Listen to JUST the Russian conversation. No English here. I download these and keep a playlist on my phone. This is perfect for immersion and for reviewing lessons I’ve done before. Probably my #1 most favorite feature. Just a few seconds long.
Review Track: Listen to the vocab of the lesson.
PDF Lesson Notes: This has the dialog, the vocab, sample sentences and cultural points. Basically, the whole lesson in text form/writing. You can read use it to read along or review after a lesson. You can also save and print it out in PDF form. I print some Lesson Notes out – particularly for the harder lessons that I will review.
Lesson Transcript: Complete transcript of everything said in the lesson. I don’t normally use this except for super hard lessons.
Vocab Section: A list of key words and phrases in the lesson with audio and translations. I’ll glance through here.
Line by Line Dialog: Here, you get the conversation broken down line by line. So you can review one line at a time with audio, translations.
This is also one of my most used tools. Whenever I listen to a lesson or the dialog track, I go here for the translations and for reading practice, so I can follow along.
Voice Recording Tool: This one is inside the Line by Line Dialog. Look for the little microphone icons. Basically, you record saying the lines out loud and compare them with the native speakers. Interesting way to practice speaking and try to perfect your accent. I don’t use this much but it could be interesting for anyone to compare themselves against natives.
And, there are over 1000+ lessons spanning across all levels – absolute beginner to advanced.
So, you can level up from absolute beginner to advanced theoretically.
My only complaint with the lessons is the 10 second jingle at the start. It’s cool for the first lesson, but eventually, you just want to get to the point – the learning. Although you can skip past with the audio and maybe I’m being picky.
Now, do you have to take all of the lessons? No.
You have all kinds of Learning Paths (think of them as courses) to follow lessons one by one. You can choose which to learn.
And if you’re confused, there’s the “Mastering Level 1 Russian” pathway for all beginners.
Three other features worth mentioning are the 2000 Core Word List, Flashcards and WordBank. All 3 tools aim to improve your vocabulary. How?
2000 Core Word List: Basically, 2000+ must know words with audio and translations. You can study them with the features below.
Spaced Repetition Flashcards: These track your progress and feed you words you struggle with most. Kind of like a teacher quizzing you.
WordBank: Like the name suggests, it’s your bank for words. Kind of like your extended brain. So, if you come across new words, save them there. Then, use the Word Bank to review with the slideshow tool or print out study sheets. You can also send your WordBank words to the Flashcards.
I can’t write a RussianPod101 review without noting things I hate. I hate flashcards.
To be honest, I hate digital flashcards in general, no matter where they’re from. Whether it’s Anki, Memrise or any other learning program that relies on flashcards.
If all flashcards worked the way Tinder does – swipe left or right – I’d reconsider. But, there’s too much finger/clicking gymnastics (tap if you know it right or wrong, flip the card, get the audio). Like playing Bop-it. To the point where it gets in the way of the learning.
But, I do like the WordBank. I save vocab from the lessons I’ve finished. It’s nice to come back and review. And I do like the Slideshow tool. It’s like flashcards on autoplay. You just get immersed in words, one by one. Maybe not as effective as spaced repetition but more pleasant to deal with.
How can you learn Russian with RussianPod101?
Given their audio/video lessons, their main strengths are teaching you to speak and understand Russian.
And as you go through the lessons. you pick up on new words and grammar rules. The rules and words are taught through the context of the conversations.
If you listened to the sample lesson above, then you know how it works.
Again, my favorite way to learn is to download the dialogue tracks (the conversation track) AFTER finishing the lessons.
That way I can immerse myself and shadow what they say (practice speaking.) And if I don’t remember words, I’ll peek back at the Line-by-Line.
Now, what about reading and writing?
You can practice reading with their lesson notes, line by line dialogue and Extensive Reading Books. You can learn to read and write as well with their alphabet video lessons.
But, I do think these skills are not really emphasized by the program. Their goal is to get you to speak. If you wanted to practice reading and writing, you’d have to create your own study routines for RussianPod101. Or, you could just get a Russian textbook.
That’s my RussianPod101 review in a nutshell.
I like it mostly for the conversational lessons and for the speaking and listening.
– PDF Jeff