The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

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Advanced – Grammar & Vocabulary

Having studied Russian seriously for a few years, you will have picked up a wide range of words and phrases.  Your vocabulary will probably be close to ~10,000 words.  This should allow you to say pretty much whatever you want to say without having to break rhythm and rack your brains for a translation.

However, just because you know lots of words does not mean that you know how to use them correctly and naturally.

Using Russian Synonyms

Designed to expand and deepen the vocabulary of intermediate-advanced students. A guide to finding the right word for the context by illustrating the (often) subtle difference between synonyms. Huge number of words and lexical groups covered, arranged in an orderly fashion with an index.



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Using Russian Synonyms

Designed to expand and deepen the vocabulary of intermediate-advanced students. A guide to finding the right word for the context by illustrating the (often) subtle difference between synonyms. Huge number of words and lexical groups covered, arranged in an orderly fashion with an index.

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What do we mean by this?

Well, for example, we all know that when we go to a funeral and we are giving our condolences to the bereaved, that it is polite to talk about the person ‘passing away’, rather than straight ‘dying’ or ‘being killed’.  Although the latter two translations are technically correct, given the situation it would perhaps seem slightly awkward to use them in this context.

The same principle applies to all languages, and Russian isn’t an exception. If you want to stop being ‘that foreigner that can speak Russian well, but awkwardly and disjointedly’, this book will be invaluable to achieving, not just fluency, but naturalness as well.

All the synonyms are collected as groups.  So ‘to die’, ‘to perish’, ‘to pass away’, etc. are all one group, with ‘to die’ – the most common and neutral synonym – being presented as the group leader. The group leaders are all arranged alphabetically, meaning that finding the group you need is exceedingly simple.

Within each group the author provides the necessary grammatical information to use the words correctly, but also explains in what context the word should be used, states the register of the word (i.e. is it slang, neutral, formal, etc.), and provides plenty of usage examples.

While this book isn’t the end of the road when it comes to vocabulary, if you can work your way through it and absorb as many of the lexical nuances that are presented to you, you will be knocking on the door to genuine native-level fluency.

An absolute essential for advanced Russian learners.

Using Russian Synonyms - Our Rating
91%

While the Oxford Russian Dictionary that we recommended in the very beginning of this guide will still be your go-to reference for translations, if you want to use your Russian for a specific industry (oil, marketing, IT, etc.), then you should know about Multitran.   

Multitran is an online dictionary that specialises in giving accurate translations for technical terminology that probably won’t be covered by normal dictionaries.

So if you need your Russian for work and you just know in your gut that the translation your normal dictionary is giving you isn’t quite right, make sure you check out Multitran.

Russian - English Dictionary of Verbal Collocations

Lists Russian verbal collocations and translates them into English. Essential for understanding formal, written Russian found in newspapers and official reports. Excellent resource for ambitious advanced learners and trainee-translators.



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Russian - English Dictionary of Verbal Collocations

Lists Russian verbal collocations and translates them into English. Essential for understanding formal, written Russian found in newspapers and official reports. Excellent resource for ambitious advanced learners and trainee-translators.

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Why do we say ‘tall building’ rather than ‘high building’, and ‘high mountain’ rather than ‘tall mountain’?  The answer is: because we do.  Native speakers just know these lexical collocations intrinsically, and know what sounds right and what sounds wrong.

If we want to reach the level of a native speaker, we have to master collocations – there’s no two ways about it.  If you say принимать на внимание, rather than принимать во внимание it won’t matter how good your accent or depth of vocabulary is: you’ll simply sound foreign.

This useful dictionary aims to iron out any confusion you may have when it comes to verbal collocations.  If you have had any problems with Russian prepositions while learning the language, then it will be particularly useful. 

Russian - English Dictionary of Verbal Collocations - Our Rating
84%

If you haven’t done a degree in Russian, you may decide that you’d like to get some sort of official accreditation to certify your language proficiency.  It’s obviously a really useful thing to put on your CV, but is also worth getting for personal satisfaction’s sake alone.

The official Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (ТРКИ) consists of six levels, running from elementary to near-native competence.  You can sit them in universities and private language institutes throughout the world.

If you think you would like to sit one of the ТРКИ exams (ТРКИ-III should be attainable at this level), then we strongly recommend that you use the free information and material on the official website, and then buy the preparation books.

It’s a gruelling exam and requires a watertight command of Russian.  Sitting the exam blind will almost certainly result in failure as the types of questions are quite specific.  The preparation books will acquaint you with the structure of the exam and show and weaknesses you may have.

You can find some of the preparation (and sample exam) books on Amazon, although quite a few are missing.  If you can’t find them there, your best option would be to ship them from Zlatoust (the publisher), or get a friend to send you them from Russia (they can be found in big bookshop chains).


Advanced – Reading

At this level, you should be able to read virtually anything!  The entire world of Russian literature is now open for you to explore, and no writing in the contemporary media will be prohibitively challenging.

The main thing to do is to read widely – try to absorb as much vocabulary from as many genres, topics, and registers as you you’re able to bear.

Below we have listed some online newspapers and magazines that are worth bookmarking:


Advanced – Writing

While reading proficiency will have taken off for most advanced speakers, many will find that their writing skills are seriously lagging behind.

Time to take action!

Using Russian

Focuses on areas of written Russian that English speakers in particular find challenging. Learn how contemporary Russian is actually used in the real world. An excellent choice for students that would like to use Russian for business purposes and want to improve the professionalism of their Russian.

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Using Russian

Focuses on areas of written Russian that English speakers in particular find challenging. Learn how contemporary Russian is actually used in the real world. An excellent choice for students that would like to use Russian for business purposes and want to improve the professionalism of their Russian.

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Using Russian is a guide to advanced Russian usage, focusing on areas of grammar, vocabulary, style, and register that are particularly difficult for English speakers.

It assumes that you have a solid grammatical and lexical foundation, so is able to skip past standard grammatical topics and instead focus on a huge range of miscellaneous problems: neologisms, fillers, idioms, measurement, currency, faux amis, translation issues, jokes, puns, verbal etiquette, etc.

We really can’t rate this book highly enough: even if you learnt Wade’s Grammar off by heart, you would still come across thousands of annoying difficulties in trying to write perfect Russian.  While we obviously can’t claim that this book contains the answer to every single one of those problems, just one look at its contents pages should convince you that it’s a vital tool for advanced learners who want to take their Russian to the next level.

Using Russian - Our Rating
88%

Perhaps you’ve already signed up to Vkontakte – if you haven’t you should now!

Vkontakte is the largest social media network in the Russian-speaking world. You make a profile just as you would on Facebook (in fact, much of the interface is virtually identical), and you’re good to go.

Apart from staying in contact with people you’ve met on your travels, it’s clearly a fantastic resource for keeping up-to-date with modern Russian culture, news, and topics of conversation.

Why is it in our writing section? Well, obviously, once you’ve connected with some Russian friends you can use it to practise your Russian writing with them all of the time!

But let’s assume for a second that your friends have lives and don’t want to spending every waking minute of the day correcting your past perfective participles – who can you go to for writing practice?

The answer is Lang-8.  The premise is simple: 1) Post in the language that you are learning.  2) Native speakers correct your writing.  3) return the favour by helping others learn your native language.

It really is that simple!

Of course, like all of these mutual-assistance websites, the more you help others, the more you’ll receive corrections for the material you input.  Even if you’re not a particularly altruistic person, the benefits of having your writing corrected by a native more than outweigh the time costs of returning the favour.

The Russian section of the WordReference forum is a great alternative if you can’t be bothered with Lang-8’s reciprocal set-up.

You can ask virtually any question related to Russian and expect to get a detailed knowledgeable answer back within a few hours.  As with any forum, make sure you read up on the site’s rules and etiquette before posting.


Advanced – Speaking

If you’re not living in Russia, keeping your speaking up for an advanced learner can be surprisingly difficult.  Language classes in institutes aren’t really worth their high costs at this point because you just need to talk, not have grammar explained to you.

If you haven’t got a burgeoning Russian-orientated social life, then you need to create one artificially!

Italki

Online language learning website which connects language learners and teachers through video chat. Over 5,000 teachers to choose from, ranging from qualified professionals to community tutors. Prices per hour can be as low as $5 for Russian. Best way to keep up your speaking skills from home.

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Italki

Online language learning website which connects language learners and teachers through video chat. Over 5,000 teachers to choose from, ranging from qualified professionals to community tutors. Prices per hour can be as low as $5 for Russian. Best way to keep up your speaking skills from home.

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Italki is essentially an online marketplace that links up language students and tutors for affordable Skype lessons.

Teachers are divided into two categories: professional teachers and community tutors.

Professional teachers are in possession of teaching qualifications and tend to follow a structured lesson plan.  They may charge quite a bit, depending on the language being taught. Community tutors on the other hand are just enthusiastic native speakers that can provide informal conversational lessons.  Their prices vary, but for some languages (including Russian!) you can get hour-long lessons for as low as $5!

If you are an advanced Russian speaker, we recommend that you arrange lessons solely with community tutors – all you need at this point is conversation practice, and a lot of it!

Of course, you need to find a tutor that you like with and whose teaching style suits you well.  Luckily, there is the ‘trial lesson’ feature that allows you to try out tutors in half-hour lessons at heavily discounted rates.  So you can sample a number of tutors that you think look promising and then arrange further lessons with the ones that you get on best with.

On top of all this, Italki also features a messaging tool, language specific blogs, Q&A forums, and feedback notebooks for any writing tasks that tutors set you.

Italki really is a fantastic tool that all language learners should know about.  There is now no excuse not to take your speaking proficiency to the next level!

Italki - Our Rating
96%

Advanced – Listening

Listening will remain a major hurdle for advanced learners, long after they have mastered other skills.  No matter how proficient you become in Russian you will always have to pay attention when a native starts talking to make sure you catch every word.

To feel truly confident with your listening you will need to watch many hours of Russian television and films.

Kartina TV Logo

Kartina TV

Russian TV streaming service that allows you to watch popular Russian programmes in your home country. Hundreds of channels and thousands of films available mean that you will always have fresh listening material. Reasonably priced and no contracts.

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Kartina TV Logo

Kartina TV

Russian TV streaming service that allows you to watch popular Russian programmes in your home country. Hundreds of channels and thousands of films available mean that you will always have fresh listening material. Reasonably priced and no contracts.

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If you are no longer living in Russia, we recommend that you purchase a subscription with Kartina.

Kartina is a streaming service (you will need to buy a Dune media streamer first) that distributes Russian television channels, targeting the Russian diaspora in most Western countries.

You link it up to your television and for a small monthly fee (around $10, no contract) you get access to a 150+ channels and 2000+ on-demand films from across the former Soviet Union.  All the programming is archived for two weeks, so you have complete control over when you watch your programmes.Once you have a Kartina account, as well as watching it through Dune on your television, you can also login via a laptop or with the official app (iPhone and Android) on your phone at no extra cost.

It’s a reliable, fast service that we have had no problems with over the years, and an excellent way to get some Russian listening practice in if you have a spare 15-30 minutes.

Important Info
We have linked to the North American branch. If you live outside of the USA or Canada then simply google 'Kartina TV + your country' and it will bring up the local branch's website.

Kartina TV - Our Rating
81%

The only criticism we have of Kartina is that none of the channels come with Russian subtitles.  This would be useful for learners who are not quite good enough yet to understand everything spoken on Russian television.  But considering that Kartina is primarily aimed at Russian expatriates, and not foreign language learners, it’s not surprising that this feature has been omitted.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything to fill this gap in the market – you will just have to struggle on with unsubtitled Russian television until you get used to the speed and complexity of the speech.

Some learners have given positive feedback about the 3ears project which adds fully subtitled videos every now and then.  The videos aren’t popular television programmes or films, though, and are usually very short.  Even so, it’s a site worth bookmarking and checking up on every couple of weeks to see if there’s anything new.

Otherwise, Youtube and Rutube are your friends.  You can actually find most of the programmes that you get through Kartina on these sites.  So if you’re on a budget, these can be a good alternative to the subscription service.


Advanced – Bonus

The Russian Word's Worth

Cultural study and colloquial dictionary rolled into one book. The collected articles of a long-time Moscow expat, covering a smorgasbord of interesting and quirky topics. Great fun and a good insight into how Russians really speak.

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The Russian Word's Worth

Cultural study and colloquial dictionary rolled into one book. The collected articles of a long-time Moscow expat, covering a smorgasbord of interesting and quirky topics. Great fun and a good insight into how Russians really speak. .

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Translator and Moscow Times columnist, Michele Berdy has been living in Moscow for decades – since before the collapse of the Soviet Union, in fact. In that time, she has built up an enormous wealth of knowledge about Russia, its culture, and its language.

The Russian Word’s Worth is a collection of her humorous articles on a variety of topics – politics, the workplace, holidays, etymology – all of them focused on translation and the struggle that expats have in expressing themselves correctly. 

You will pick up a lot of practical Russian vocabulary: how to: express your condolences, how to deal with plumbers, how to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, among other things.

The articles are refreshingly apolitical – a rarity when it comes to Russia! And the fact that the author doesn’t take herself too seriously makes them a pleasure to read.

All-in-all, It’s an excellent book for advanced learners who want to expand their colloquial grasp of the language and gain a deeper appreciation for Russian culture.

The Russian Word's Worth - Our Rating
92%

Russian - English Dictionary of Idioms

Colossal collection of Russian idioms, old and new. Over 14,000 entries with explanations and examples. The only resource that any Russian learner would ever need to enrich their vocabulary with colourful idioms. A must-have for (in particular, literary) translators.

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Russian - English Dictionary of Idioms

Colossal collection of Russian idioms, old and new. Over 14,000 entries with explanations and examples. The only resource that any Russian learner would ever need to enrich their vocabulary with colourful idioms. A must-have for (in particular, literary) translators.

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You can actually find hundreds of Russian idioms on Wiktionary (with their literal translations and English equivalents). 

But if you that’s not enough and you feel you want to delve deeper, then this dictionary is perfect for you.

With close to 14,000 fully-translated items from the nineteenth century to the present day, it can rightfully claim to be the ‘most innovative, comprehensive, and scholarly bilingual dictionary of Russian idioms available today’.

Like all good language books, it packed full of examples, grammatical explanations, and stylistic and usage information.

Important Info
If you want a more general colloquial dictionary, then you might like the Dictionary of Advanced Russian Usage.

Russian - English Dictionary of Idioms - Our Rating
85%

Introduction to Russian - English Translation

Very practical, hands-on guide for Russian-English translators. The main aim of the book is to identify problematic aspects of Russian and English that might cause translations to sound clunky or awkward. Provides numerous examples for each point made and supplementary exercises to test your knowledge.

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Introduction to Russian - English Translation

Very practical, hands-on guide for Russian-English translators. The main aim of the book is to identify problematic aspects of Russian and English that might cause translations to sound clunky or awkward. Provides numerous examples for each point made and supplementary exercises to test your knowledge.

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Perhaps you want to do more than speak excellent Russian.  Perhaps you have ambitions of working as a professional Russian translator.

If that’s the case, it’s important that you realise that being a good linguist and being a good translator are two COMPLETELY different things.  They require different skills, and different competencies.  In fact, many people claim that to succeed as a translator depends more on how well you write in your native tongue than how well you speak the foreign language you’re translating from.

That’s why books like Introduction to Russian-English Translation are so important: they teach you the vital translation skills that you won’t get from general Russian textbooks. 

The book is focused solely on the specific language pair of Russian-English, covering topics such as:

  • Key words vs props
  • Identifiers
  • Calques
  • Intensifiers
  • Diminutives and augmentatives
  • Loaded words and implication
  • Delays and interruptions
  • Rhetorical and pragmatic factors
  • Sovietisms

If you don’t know what a lot of these terms mean, then … all the more reason you should buy this book!

Introduction to Russian - English Translation - Our Rating
93%

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