A RussianPod101 Review
Note: Before you read – know that there isn’t one single miracle site, app, textbook or method that will make you 100% fluent. However, there are great tools that actually will teach you. Here’s one.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
*Updated October, 2016*
So RussianPod101.com‘s goal is to get you speaking practical Russian conversation you’ll need if you were living in Russia. (Reading and writing too – they have lessons for these). The website mostly revolves around conversation lessons made by Russian native speakers but there’s a lot more than that.
The site has these membership options….
- Free Lifetime Account. When you sign up you get a 7-day Premium trial to see everything on the site. And as a free member, you get:
- Word of the Day
- New Audio & Video Lessons every Week
- Vocab Lists
- Top 100 Must Know Words
- Daily Dose Lessons
- Their App
- Basic Member: You get all the lessons and lesson notes, progress tracking and app access.
- Premium Member: Unlimited access to the site. Get all of their lessons, lesson notes, premium study tools, app access, progress tracking, voice recording, line by line audio & more.
- Premium PLUS: This is Premium access plus an on-site Russian teacher that will help you with any questions you may have. Learn more about it here on their site.
Their Russian learning course consists of three things: (1) Audio/Video Lessons, (2) PDF Lesson Notes, and (3) Premium Study Tools. You can learn on your computer, smartphone, or iPad. I used my iPhone to listen to Russian lessons while going to school.
Lessons are the main part of RussianPod101. They do what textbooks, classes, articles and most apps can’t – they try to teach you real Russian conversation. The lessons are done by Russian speakers who expose you to native Russian conversation. They break it all down/explain all grammar, all words, the culture so you fully understand it.
They have over 700+ lessons from Beginner to Advanced and new lessons are published weekly – ranging teaching you real conversation, culture, reading, writing and pronunciation. The fact that you get new lessons non-stop is a nice point. You can finish books, apps and have to buy more ,but here you can sit back and get more.
When you sign up, RussianPod101 gives you lessons based on your level.
No confusion here. No tons of articles to read. It’s pretty easy to start.
Lesson Notes & Transcript. These are the lessons in written format and they come with every lesson. Everything you hear in the lesson – the conversation, words, phrases, grammar, etc. is all written down here. Very useful for making sure you understand everything in the lesson, listening comprehension or reviewing afterwards.
Progress Tracking. There’s a progress tracking system. After you complete a lesson, it shows you a progress bar. You see you how much lessons you’ve taken and how many are left. It pretty much guides you from knowing zero Russian to their Advanced lessons that are 100% Russian.
Premium Study Tools. Their main strength here is mastering Russian vocabulary. Premium tools get you the 2000 top Russian word list, spaced repetition flashcards (like Anki), and your personal word collector – wordbank – so you can save the words you study.
There’s also line-by-line audio that comes with every lesson. This breaks down lesson conversations line by line that you can hear and read again and gain. And a voice recorder to practice your Russian pronunciation. You can see all of these in action just by signing up for free.
That’s the site in a nutshell. Click here to visit RussianPod101 and take a look. Now, let’s get to business.
The Good Points:
- Tons of lessons. Focused on daily Russian conversation so you’re learning to speak from the first lesson. You can download them and load them on your phone/mp3 player, etc.
- Focuses on practical conversation. RussianPod101 exposes you to real life conversation and teaches you to speak it.
- Relaxed radio style lessons. In other words… it’s not boring. They teach in a very casual way… so they have a lot fun which means… its a lot of fun to listen and learn along. If you’re a more serious learner… this may be a problem for you.
- New lessons published weekly and they’re free. This is why I liked them so much. There’s always an ongoing stream of new lessons to learn and improve with.
- You can learn Russian for free everyday. Similar to the point above, there are daily word lessons that come to your email. There are the audio and video lessons that come out several times a week. There are the daily dose lessons (you get a special app for that when you sign up).
- Lesson notes with every lesson. Very useful. You can read along as you listen so you don’t miss anything. I like to print mine out and write on them.
- Easy to start and continue. The dashboard tells you which lessons to study next and tracks your progress.
- Learn with your iPhone, iPad, Laptop, Android Computer. Basically, any device. If you have a smartphone, you can access all the same lessons on the go and put your wasted time to use. The website itself is mobile responsive.
- Discounts. If you want to try Basic or Premium, they’ll probably have a sale and you can join for less money.
The Bad Points:
- Lacking grammar. While they do go over grammar in lessons… this is something you need a textbook for. Grammar sucks. It requires time, attention and the only practical way to tackle it is through a textbook. Remember, no one learning resource will give you all you need. It would be nice if they had grammar-dedicated lessons.
- Promotional content about their features in lessons. You’ll hear about features like Flashcards or the WordBank at the end of a lesson. I guess it’s a good way let learners know what they can use but I like my promotional content and educational content separate.
- Jingles in every lesson. I don’t mind them too much but it can get tiring after 30 lessons when you just want to jump into the Russian dialog. I guess that’s where the fast-forward feature helps out.
- You can’t choose a username. This is just odd for a website in today’s day and age. The username you get is your email with some random numbers. Sorry, I’m just being picky here. (Update: you can now change it in profile settings).
- No New Lesson Notifications. While they publish new lessons… I wish I’d get an email… or a weekly email of all new lessons published during the week so I can access them instead of coming back to the site.
- A lot of features: Since RussianPod101 aims to be a complete learning program, it ends up offering way too much. And that makes it hard to get into a routine with the program. The easiest thing you can do is take the lessons and follow them one by one. But, they also have a lot of supplementary study tools (quizzes, vocab lists, slideshows, line by line, voice recording, transcripts, etc. etc.) to the point where you would get sidetracked trying to figure everything out. And you’d also need to consider if you actually need to use some of these tools or not.
Personally, I liked the site and recommend it. Why? I like the lessons. I’m interested in listening to conversations and learning from them. I’m a fan of the line-by-line dialogue tool. And of course, the dialogue track. The rest of the stuff, I don’t really use.
Should you get it? If you’re a beginner and are new to Russian, yes. The lessons are easy to follow and that’s the best way to learn with the program. If you’re a more experienced language learner with your own tastes and styles, you have to take time and figure out how to make it work for you, or what you like best about it. In my case, I’m only interested in the lessons, the dialogue tracks and the translations.
- Secret Lifetime Membership: They don’t advertise this (they probably lose money on it but I found the link during a Christmas sale) but you can buy lifetime access to RussianPod101 and their entire learning system. I think this would be super useful for serious learners (ONLY) that don’t want to just “try” Russian but are in it for the long term. Click here to check it out.
RussianPod101 provides TONS of lessons and there are always new ones. It’s a great way to get started on Russian if you’re a complete newbie and equally useful for Advanced learners. That’s it for my RussianPod101 review.