How to learn Russian onlinep

How to learn Russian online

Learning Russian involves perfecting a new writing system, wrapping your head around obscure grammar, and deciphering the mysterious Russian soul.

You might be thinking:

Russian is a really difficult language.

But is it really?

Well, it turns out hundreds of thousands of learners just like you pass the Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL) every year 🙆, and they didn’t have to do anything extraordinary to reach their fluency...

...they achieved results through regular study, and insights from those who’ve been through this before. There’s a proven path to success, and you can follow it too.

Below we’ll share some of the top insights you’ll find in the LinguaLift course, and show you that Russian is far easier than you might think.

You can learn Russian (with the right approach)

Here’s the deal:

Get your approach wrong, and learning Russian is unreasonably difficult 😰

Surprisingly, the secret to success is not hard work and regular practice.

There are many people who after years of learning, go to a Russian restaurant and struggle to make a simple order 😣 They wonder whether the results really justify their time and effort.

Not to mention, they can’t let their personality shine in Russian.

It’s terribly frustrating.

Their biggest goal is to communicate and understand real-world Russian as it’s actually used. But all they’ve got are random words and abstract grammar patterns.

Hard work alone does not lead to success, and we have data to show it. Study data of LinguaLift users who have learned enough Russian to start a new life in Russia 👏

Surprisingly, these learners weren’t the ones who studied non-stop, all day, every day. In fact, one of them only ever studied for 15 minutes every morning.

They didn’t study hard. They studied smart.

There’s a huge difference☝️

If you’re not using the right method, you’re not only wasting precious time, but forming bad habits that will prevent you from ever achieving fluency.

Every hour of study time has the potential to unlock brand new possibilities. But it’s all too easy to waste that same hour mindlessly clicking on picture flashcards.

It’s all too easy to mistake the illusion of progress for actual improvement, and we’re sad to see some of our competitors take advantage of people new to digital language learning.

LinguaLift students who have followed our clear and sensible approach to learning Russian 🇷🇺 have found they can fit studying in even the most busy of schedules.

From company CEOs to Ivy League undergraduates, to single parents of four children—we’ve seen that you can be a successful language learner even if you don’t have much time to commit to studying. You just need to study smart.

You’re probably wondering what our solution is 🤔

The LinguaLift course is divided into a clear, step-by-step curriculum, where each lesson teaches you Russian words and phrases relevant to real-life situations.

But we don’t stop there.

In addition to teaching you the nuts and bolts of the language, we provide cultural insights and tips from natives so you can not just speak, but act like a local.

We also make use of a memory approach recommended by the Harvard Medical School called spaced repetition.

“one of the most remarkable phenomena to emerge from laboratory research on learning” — WIRED

Our team of friendly study 🤖 robots keeps note of all you learn, and they’ll ping you when you’re about to forget it.

(They don’t cease to amaze us with how well they can predict that moment based on your past performance!)

Our method allows you to go out and start using the language sooner, and makes you remember the material more effectively. 👍

We gear you up for long-term success

It’s cool to know a few phrases, but it’s so much more impressive to switch between Russian and English with ease.

This may seem like a distant dream, but there are hundreds of thousands of English speakers who have reached this level. Many of them used LinguaLift as part of their journey.

The way to get there is to not focus on short term wins, but rather allow your brain to think in Russian. 🤔

To do this, you need to completely adopt a Russian way of expressing your thoughts and ideas, and a Russian-like sentence structure as soon as possible.

This doesn’t usually come naturally to English speakers, but the right exercises 🏋️ can kick-start the process.

Unlike some other textbooks who teach you Russian using the English alphabet, with LinguaLift you’ll be using the native Russian script from the get-go.

This way you’ll read real Russian sooner, grasp new grammar with ease, and most importantly start thinking like a native Russian speaker.

Core vocabulary is the key to success

One of the easiest ways to get fluent is to develop a wide vocabulary.

You may struggle with the right pronunciation, and your grammar can be all over the place, but if you know the right words, you will be able to get a point across.

Same works for understanding native speakers.

Picking up words from a conversation gives you a rough idea of what is being talked about.

Dahl’s Explanatory Dictionary estimates the number of Russian words to be around 200,000. Wow, that’s a lot of words you might say! 😨

But guess what? In everyday conversation, the same topics come up again and again, and people rarely use specialised, formal or niche vocabulary.

This is why studies show that to understand 95% of common speech it’s enough to know less than 2% of all vocabulary. Which means with 4,000 Russian words you’ll cover most of the language you need to fully fit in in Russia! 😁

This may still seem challenging, but by learning just a handful of words every day you will reach your goal before you know it! Just 10 words a day for a year… and you’re there!

But wait! You don’t even need to wait that long!

Once you’ve got a good understanding of the basics of the grammar it’s enough to learn around 500 words to have a basic conversation. 🙌

We’ve got the data to show it too! It takes LinguaLift students just half a year to acquire enough Russian to get around Russia and chat to natives with confidence.

We leverage your previous knowledge

Many people are discouraged from learning Russian because of its unusual alphabet. But the 33 symbols of the Cyrillic script can be learned in less than a few weeks. Here is why 👇

Unlike some languages where you need to learn an entire new writing system, in Russian you will only really need to learn a few new symbols.

How come? 🤔

Well, if you speak English, you already know eight letters that look and sound exactly the same as in Russian.

If you took basic maths and physics at school, you have an extra advantage. Six letters in Russian are similar to the Greek alphabet, commonly used in science 📝 subjects.

Let’s give it a try!

Knowing the symbol for the famous number pi — П, you will now be able to read your first Russian word: папа — dad!

So, let’s recount. Considering the Latin letters which you already know, and the Greek ones, you will need to learn only 19 new symbols. Trust me, it will take you only two or three days 👍

Cheers to that!

Russian grammar is tricky

Russian grammar is so far from English it has to be explained 💁, not just shown.

It’s completely unrealistic to expect you’ll be able to ‘pick it up’ from Russian TV 📺, or by looking at old Soviet posters. Russian cases are an almost legendary source of headaches for learners 😰

We explain the general features of the cases. Understanding the core of their role in Russian, will help you apply them automatically, like native speakers do.

No doubt there are still a few rules there to be learned.

But learning definitions just to be able to recite them from memory is not what we value.

We relate the rules to real-life situations, so that you immediately know how they can be used in practice.

We could tell you that the dative case is used for the indirect object 👨‍🏫 and leave it at that. Instead, we relate it to a situation where you will need this case, such as talking about your food preferences with the verb нра́виться (to like).

So next time you go to a restaurant, you will know the phrase ‘I really like blini’ is:
Мне о́чень нра́вятся блины́.

(Literally: To me blini appeal very much.)

Mmm… to me too! 😉

Russian sentences offer a world of possibilities

Russian grammar allows for a lot of flexibility, meaning that you don’t need to be too worried about sounding like you’ve made a mistake.

Consider the English sentence:

Harry gives Dumbledore the wand.

There is no way you could change the order of the words, and keep the meaning of the sentence the same.

Dumbledore gives Harry the wand. — Makes sense, but this structure loses the original meaning.

The wand gives Dumbledore Harry. — Maybe in the magical world of Harry Potter 🤓 a wand could do such a thing, but for us this sentence makes little sense.

Gives the wand Dumbledore Harry. — Erm… nope.

Here is the big news.

In Russian, all those different word orders would be possible. The sentence would still mean the same thing! Because of its grammar, Russian allows for a huge flexibility in constructing sentences, so you’re never worrying about which word should come first! 🙌

Read what is written

Have you read The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité? Here’s a fragment from the poem:

“Just compare heart, beard, and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)”

It’s about English pronunciation and shows how more often than not what we read sounds different than what we hear.

Russian doesn’t have this problem and you always read what is written.

English is really complicated. The letters ‘ph’ can sound the same as the letter ‘f’ (why don’t we write foto rather than photo?!), but in Russian, this complication just doesn’t exist 😏 The ‘f’ sound is always written with just one letter: ф

What’s more, rather than having lots of different exceptions in spelling to create different sounds 🎺, the Russian alphabet has two little signs (ь and ъ) that help indicate how different letters should be pronounced.

We teach the essential rules in the LinguaLift course about how to pronounce any word with confidence.

Don’t stress about stress

You might have heard unsettling stories about how Russian has ‘stresses’. It’s true, saying a word with the wrong stress (pronunciation emphasis) can change an innocent word like ‘flour' (мука) into 'torture’ (мука).

But, it’s not as much of a problem as it might seem… In real life, it never really becomes a problem.

In English we have ‘to desert’ and 'a desert’. Have you ever confused the two? 🙄

Stress is important, and you will have to learn it with each Russian word. But there are many rules and simple patterns that govern how words are pronounced, and we won’t leave you alone to find them out.

We will explain them in a simple way so you will never confuse Я плачу (I’m paying) with Я плачу (I’m crying), which is actually fitting, considering how much Russians tend to complain about prices 🤣

Swipe difficulties under the carpet

Like many languages, Russian nouns have genders: grammar categories that determine which grammar and pronunciation rules apply to them.

You’ll learn 🍞 хлеб (bread) is masculine, 🏰 история (history) is feminine, and 💌 письмо (letter) is neutral. Why? Well, there isn’t really a reason…

But! Simple rules come to our rescue. And we will have a lot of fun inventing humorous stories to aid memorisation. Using little tricks to make sure that the things you’re studying are stored in your long term memory is our speciality!

Also, we’ve broken the language down, and found some simple memory hacks.

For example:

As a basic rule of thumb, most nouns that end with the soft sign -ь are feminine 👧.

But, there are some exceptions.

The word олень (deer) is actually masculine despite ending in ь. For easier memorisation you could imagine a deer wearing a 👗 skirt 😂

These little exceptions may seem annoyingly complex, but you know what the language did to make it easier for you?

Russian got rid of two very big elements of grammar.

One of them is the pesky verb to be.

Think about it in English, you are tired, he has been robbed, and their being late is annoying. That’s a whole lot of forms to wrap your head around…

Russian doesn’t have this word! 🤗 To translate the sentence I am Larry Page, and you are Sergey Brin, you would simply say:
Я Larry Page, а ты Sergey Brin

Which literally means:
I Larry Page, and you Sergey Brin 💻

Another headache you won’t have to worry about are the articles—the little words like a, an and the. Why is it the Netherlands, but not the Sweden; Obama but the Obamas?

You’ll never have this worry in Russian, since these pesky little words don’t exist.

Surprise the Russians!

Some languages are so popular among learners you feel almost obligated to be learning them. What’s more, in some cultures there is a bit of an expectation of visitors to speak the local language which creates a stressful environment for travellers (looking at you, France! 😜).

In Russia, no one expects you to speak Russian.

As a foreigner, you are given all the license to be ignorant of the language. Well, almost 😜 But while English still isn’t prevalent, any attempt to produce a sentence in Russian will be greeted with amazement 🤗

Think of all the street-fame and applause you’re going to get as a brave learner who decided to conquer the evil dragon of the Russian grammar!

Without Russian you won’t communicate. But by trying, you will evoke a lot of friendliness — most likely enough to get yourself at least few free shots of 🍸 водка and a couple of new friends.


Learning Russian is not easy, but it is possible. We know the path successful learners take, and can’t wait to guide motivated learners like you.

Ready to learn smart? Then try your today.