11 Best Russian TextBooks for Beginners & Learners. 2017 Update

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Here’s a list of Best Russian Textbooks for beginners.

Hi there!

A Russian textbook gives you structure – a path, from Page 1 to 200. It teaches you the alphabet,  grammar, writing, reading  and everything that you won’t learn from reading articles online. I know you’ve read enough already. Are textbooks the answer to the entire language? No. But they’re a safe and reliable start to Russian.

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1. Sputnik: An Introductory Russian Language Course

I think this is one of the best Russian textbooks to start with. Why? First, a lot of textbooks, straight from Russia are…. old, dry and too formal. Soviet style old. Sputnik is a very modern textbook; published in 2014. Sputnik covers (1) reading, (2) writing, (3), listening – audio is provided – and (4) speaking skills. Completing it is like completing one semester in college.

  • 234 pages
  • very thorough explanations
  • includes website access for you to get supplementary audio
  • NOT boring & meant for beginners/introductory level learners
  • includes a workbook but that’s sold separately

best russian textbooks

2. Russian Stage One: Live from Russia: Volume 1

Universities use this book. You get a textbook, workbook, CD and DVD – all which are used together. That way, you can learn reading, writing, listening and speaking  – with this set. Books alone won’t teach you to speak and listen. Great overall introduction that follows the lives of young Russians in Moscow through 6 units that build upon each other. Be sure to check out Volume 2 too.

best russian textbooks

3. Living Language Russian, Complete Edition

This is a complete set. You get 3 course books. You get 9 CDs and the entire program is designed to get you from Beginner to Advanced. It will give you a decent foundation in Russian grammar along with a  vocabulary enough for everyday communication. Overall, a big bundle of resources put together.

  • 3 course books
  • 9 CDs

best russian textbooks

4. Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners

A lot of learners seem to love this book.This book teaches you 1,500 vocabulary, it teaches you Russian’s cases and tenses – all in a logical, step by step format. Oh, and it has exercises. It’s not a “learn a few russian phrases” book, but an actual and solid introduction to the language. Great even if you don’t know any Russian. But, only if you’re serious.

  • learn 1500+ words
  • learn Russian grammar

best russian textbooks

5. Russian For Dummies

Take it by its title. Russian for Dummies is a gentle introduction into Russian. A much easier, slower pace – so you understand what you learn. Over 384 pages and a BONUS CD that comes with it. You can learn conversational Russian with this – but it won’t teach you the Russian Alphabet. There’s no Cyrillic used – just the English romanizations. Very easy. Good as a resource, but not a direct source of learning.

If you want a SAFE start, this is one of the best Russian textbooks to start with.

  • Good for learners that know ZERO Russian
  • You won’t learn the alphabet
  • Good for learning phrases and vocabulary for basic conversations

best russian textbooks

6. The Everything Learning Russian Book with CD.

Definitely NOT a boring book. And most are. Great beginner book. It teaches you how to read. It’s clear and combines the language with the culture in every chapter. You can easily progress from the basic lectures to the more complicated lectures without getting beaten down with grammar rules. 304 pages + an Audio CD.

  • 304 pages total + 19 chapters
  • Audio CD
  • teaches you to read
  • mostly grammar focused

best russian textbooks

7. Russian for Beginners

This is a newbie approach to Russian grammar. You’ll learn 4,000 words as well. And this is all done in a span of 42 lessons – 384 pages. This gem has been written in the 1960s and is still used today. So, the good news is that it works. Aside from teaching, the authors also give learning advice on grammar and memorization.

  • The downside to be aware of is… it was written in 1960s so it’s not modern.

best russian textbooks

8. Russian Full Circle: A First-Year Russian Textbook

This is another well laid out and comprehensive beginner textbook. As with most Russian Textbooks, it focuses on the foundations of Russian – grammar and vocabulary. However, it does lack an answer key for the exercises you get. Safe option for beginners.

best russian textbooks

Best Russian Textbooks for Intermediate Learners & Upper Beginners.

9. Russian: From Intermediate to Advanced

In terms of intermediate books, this is one of the best Russian textbooks.

At 466 pages, this book is massive and for good reason; it promises to take you from Intermediate to Advanced. Across 10 chapters, you’ll improve your speaking, reading, vocabulary and grammar.  Plus, it has great reviews on Amazon and is written by Russian Professors at UCLA.

  • For 3 & 4 year students of the Russian language
  • Will boost your vocabulary by 1600-1800
  • Promises…
    • speaking: to help you engage in conversations with confidence
    • reading: understand main ideas and details when reading
    • listening: understand main ideas and details when listening
    • writing: be able to use most-common grammar patterns with confidence

best russian textbooks

Best Russian Textbooks for Intermediate & Advanced Learners.

10. V Puti: Russian Grammar in Context, 2nd Edition

Whereas most Russian textbooks are “academic,” this one is meant for every day life. You learn the language and grammar for basic conversations, daily activities of everyday life and things you normally talk about in general. Inside, you also get conversational exercises, examples, reading exercises like biographies and poems – that are based on real life situations. Since this book is written with Grammar in mind – and knowing Grammar is definitely the way to fluency and speaking flexibly – I recommend it. For Intermediate and Advanced students.

best russian textbooks

11. Advanced Russian Through History

Just as the title says, you learn Russian language by learning Russian history. You go from the 9th century to the 1990 post-Soviet time. However, it’s all text, don’t expect any pictures. In each chapter, you get a Russian passage, a lecture on CD (if available), and website learning homework. The goal is to help you understand and talk/argue at an academic level.

  • 36 chapters
  • 264 pages

best russian textbooks

By the way… I also do recommend RussianPod101.com (click here) for their Audio and Video Lessons.

Yes, it’s not a textbook, but it just might be the best damn online course for speaking, listening and mastering Russian conversation. That site would be a perfect supplement with whatever Russian textbooks or dictionary you’re using. Check it out and decide on your own.

Want more?

Do you have any best Russian textbooks that you swear by and recommend? Please leave me a comment. I read them all.

I’ll add more as I go along.

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Russian learners. If you REALLY want to learn Russian with effective Audio & Video lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at RussianPod101.com (click here) and start learning!RussianNEW42

Hikaru 2016-09-24 19:24:00
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Hello!! I'd like to ask you a question. I almost finished "Living Language Russian, Complete Edition" and after that which textbook would you recommend? I'd like to learn more advanced Russian.

Jehoiadak 2016-08-31 17:16:00
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Option 3 was the worst book on the list. The best book I have used out of five, is Troika (http://bit.ly/2bT8Tcf). Nice and easy, takes it slow with the grammar (Russian grammar almost made me quit Russian). Also, learn to take your time, when you start getting frustrated, just take a break. Всего хорошего!

Artemiy 2016-02-25 08:54:00
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Also, I wanna recommend my book "Russian language in 25 lessons" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A74965S The book represents a course of 25 lessons of Russian language adapted for self learning that will help to form skills of using essential structures of Russian language. The lessons represent essential subjects - the structure of the Russian language in non complicated and easily understandable way. The textbook will be useful for a beginner, as well as intermediate students of Russian. The learning material is followed by many examples after each lesson.

Ignaty Dyakov 2016-02-12 03:38:00
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May I also humbly point at my own unconventional Russian language textbooks written in the form of fun detective stories aimed at those at Elementary to Upper Intermediate levels. Available as paper-backs and audio-books they can be found on Amazon, selected bookstores in London, Paris and Helsinki. Also, at Bookdepository which offers free delivery worldwide http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=ignaty%20dyakov&search=Find+book

Artemiy 2016-01-30 17:39:00
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Also, "Russian language in 25 lessons" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A74965S The book represents a course of 25 lessons of Russian language adapted for self learning that will help to form skills of using essential structures of Russian language. The lessons represent essential subjects - the structure of the Russian language in non complicated and easily understandable way. The textbook will be useful for a beginner, as well as intermediate students of Russian. The learning material is followed by many examples after each lesson.