Maintaining Russian On Your Own: Audio/Video

Online Radio:

If you're getting started, a radio station aggregator such as 101.ru онлайн радио will allow you to try stations and visit the sites of the ones you like. Radio stations also offer opportunities to read short texts.

Russian Music on Line:

  • YouTube allows you to search for artists (all artists have music videos or recordings of their music with still backgrounds).
  • You also can follow users' channels such as: Ello.
  • Far from Moscow is UCLA professor David MacFadyen's site about independent Russian music, which includes sound files and engaging commentary.
  • Tip: when you search for music, add "+lyrics" or "+текст" to your search and you may find that someone has posted a version of the song that shows the lyrics as well.

Apps for Russian Stations

  • You can listen to Russian radio stations through internet radio applications on a smart phone. A simple search in your phone's digital store will reveal of number of these apps, one of which is Tune In, which is available for free on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phones, among others.

Movies and Video

  • Movies Online: MosFilm's YouTube channel has a large and growing collection of mostly Soviet-era movies, many of which have English subtitles. You can rent some Russian movies online through sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
  • Videos/DVDs: If you live in an area with a significant Russian population (like, for example, Los Angeles), you may be able to find dedicated Russian media or video stores. Alternatively, some of brick and mortar general-interest video stores  (including Vidiots and Cinefile in Los Angeles) have Russian movies.
  • Movies by Mail: Websites like Санкт-Петербург (Brighton Beach, NY) offer Russian movies for purchase but not for streaming, as well as a monthly rental service.

News Videos

To get started, see the links to television stations in the Reading section of this guide. Russian television and news outlets, as well as the Russian services of sources such as BBC and Deutsche Welle often have Russian pages. These videos are unlikely to have subtitles, but their source website may have transcripts or a summary.

Strategies for Watching Video

With subtitles:

  • A claim on a Russian video jacket that a film has subtitles may or may not be true. If your copy of the movie happens to be pirated (unfortunately this happens a lot), the subtitles probably were not copied.
  • Try to concentrate on listening and check the subtitles as a backup. With practice, you might be pleased to realize that sometimes you can catch inaccuracies in the subtitles.
  • Many DVDs include Russian subtitles—give them a try. Hearing and seeing the words at the same time is good reinforcement. You can watch once with Russian and once with English subtitles, or in reverse order.

Without Subtitles:

  • If the movie you want to watch is without subtitles, remember that people used to watch silent films without any words at all and still understood the plot and subtext.
  • There's no need to stress if you don't understand everything. Try to watch closely and use visual clues. Listen for what you can understand and don’t worry about catching everything. Soon you’ll be able to understand more than you expect.

General Strategies:

  • Watch more than once—it gets easier each time, and your listening comprehension will improve with repeated viewings.
  • Take notes of words or phrases you want to look up or learn actively.
  • Watch videos several times a week and you’ll notice that you make progress. Stay with it! 
  • If you can't find a movie or cartoon, try googling the title; you're likely to find at least a scene on line and often can find the whole thing. If not, your search may allow you to read about it or learn where to find it.

Audio and Video with Exercises for Students

These sites offer modern videos with exercises created by expert instructors. We have chosen these because they are well done, interesting, and feature authentic and meaningful content.

  • Interviews that accompany V puti (second year textbook) site: includes thirteen videos, each a few minutes long. Watch them several times, do the exercises, and then revisit them after a week or so—you'll notice that your understanding improves with each viewing. For students about to start second-year Russian, these will provide a good preview of the class. Keep in mind that these are authentic interviews with real people, so the language can be fast, lively, and a little difficult to follow at first.
  • RAILS (Russian Advanced Interactive Listening Series): Created by a team of experts from the University of Wisconsin, RAILS are videos based on historical themes and designed to improve listening comprehension for intermediate to advanced level students.
  • G.L.O.S.S. (Global Language Online Support System): A site created by experts at the Defense Language Institute for language maintenance and development. Allows searches for audio, video, and reading exercises by proficiency level and topic. These exercises offer an abundance of scaffolding to help you work your way through the content.

Strategies for Watching Student-oriented Videos:

  • Complete the exercises included; they're created by experts, are methodical, and will help you.
  • If you've already worked with some of these videos, watch others in the series or return to the ones you’ve seen. In language learning there's no such thing as ‘I’ve done it already’—you can always do more with the same material. 
  • The video-watching strategies listed earlier apply equally here.