Last updated: April 7, 2020

Russian Pod 101 Review: An Excellent Resource to Learn Russian Online

Eastern Europe, Languages, Russia


A lot of people try to learn Russian. Many fail. Is this a surprise to me? Not really, the language is tough and the vocabulary is different from anything you have come across before. But failure, in this case, is actually a failure to prepare. So before I give you my Russian Pod 101 review let me give you a few words of warning.

You can adjust your expectations accordingly.

  • You will not learn Russian in a few days/weeks/months. As a matter of fact, You will probably never learn Russian as well as you want to. This is OK. As a foreigner, and especially as a foreigner with a non-Slavic native language, your level of fluency will be limited by not having been born in Russia.
  • The last statement could be scratched. Anything is possible kids, keep believing. However only believe a healthy amount so that you stay motivated but you don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself either.
  • Studying Russian is a big challenge and strategy is everything. Consider all of your options and once you pick what is best for you, stick to it. Otherwise, even the best of programs will not work for you.

Russian Pod 101 Review: How It Compares To Other Options

Regardless of what language you learn you have two basic options — do it yourself, or use a tutor/teacher.

Learning by yourself could mean anything from downloading an audio book, listening and repeating until you can understand (a technique used by many poly and hyperglots, actually); doing an audio course in your car; doing Duolingo etc. Self-studying is almost always cheaper, if not even free.

The free options are apps like Duolingo, as well as assembling the materials for your studies from the Internet (downloading them for free).

While it might seem like a great option — why pay if you can get it for free? — this form of self-instruction is not always the most efficient. It is often good for motivation to have paid for a certain product (in this case a program). This is known as sunk cost fallacy and it is also what it is also what keeps you onto Farmville 🙂

In simple terms, we value stuff in accordance to how much we have invested in it, whether that investment is time, money, emotions, or anything else.

Another benefit of paid courses is that they are obviously much more comprehensive than anything you can get for free.

If you were to have the time and commitment, you could design a language learning system perfectly suited to your needs based on free materials alone.

But that is only if you have the time and commitment. Most of us, sadly, don’t have that.

This is why it is so great to have somebody do it for you, and you can just benefit from what they have created. Russian is hardly an exotic language, so you have plenty of eLearning options to choose from. Honestly, I can’t see why not choose this option, as it is significantly cheaper and more convenient than the rest.

Finally, for self-studying you could also buy a physical textbook, maybe one designed for solo learners, maybe not, but then you have the inconvenience of having to carry it around. Besides, an important feature of online language learning programs is they provide a community for you and a textbook does not do that.


Russian Pod 101 Review

For more conventional language learning options, you have the traditional classroom-based learning. On average these courses cost twice as much as their online alternatives. That I could live with.

  • What I truly hate about classroom-based classes is how authoritative they are.

True, you are no longer in primary school with a strict and scary teacher to shout at you for not doing the homework. At it’score, however, a traditional language class is no different. You get no say in what you learn, what you have to do for homework, what aspects of the language you focus on, how quickly or how slowly you go through the lesson. Heck, you do not even get to choose when to have the class. This is inevitable, but still unpleasant and I would prefer to avoid it as much as I can.

If you are looking for a more individual approach, hire a tutor.

But that is one of the most expensive and cost-inefficient options out there. Here is a little confession — I used to do language tutoring (for ESL students) and I always felt slightly guilty about it. I did help them a lot, but not at a very fast pace, plus it took some time for us to get used to one another. That meant there were always a few very inefficient classes my students would still pay full-price for.

Finally, there is the language immersion option. This is pretty self-explanatory. Language immersion is incredible. It is more than learning, in fact, I would wholeheartedly say that a language immersion is a life experience. However, they are the most costly of all options, plus not everyone has 2+ weeks to dig out of their schedule and go to Russia to learn the language.

Russian Pod 101 Structure

Since this is a Russian Pod 101 Review, let’s get into why I think that it is worth your time and money. If you could not tell by now, I certainly think that your best strategy for learning Russian is to use an online program. Russian Pod is one of my favorites.

The course is based on audio lessons, which you can listen to in the car, while you are walking to school, or cleaning your house.

Then for each lesson, you get a PDF with notes. They are called notes, but they could perfectly pass for a textbook of their own.

I love the grammar explications Russian Pod provides you with. Their take on grammar is much simpler and their explanations easier to grasp than most. For a language with a grammar system that is so complicated, this matters.


Russian Pod 101 Review: The Content

Unlike most textbooks and applications (Duolingo, I am looking at you), Russian Pod’s lessons are based on actual conversations. Finally!

I usually hate how unrealistic dialogs are, even when they are featured in a supposedly respectable textbook. Hate is a strong word, let’s go for strongly dislike. Anyhow, Russian Pod is not like this at all. I loved the audio lessons precisely for that reason. You can really feel that you will be able to use these words in a real interaction.

And how does a lesson actually sound like? Much like a podcast, if you ask me. If you are already used to listening to podcasts instead of music, you will find that Russian Pod does not require more concentration. This is coming from someone who has trouble driving while listening to more science-dense radio programs/podcasts. But this is simply because I’m not a very good driver.

As for the lesson notes include everything you listened to during the audio lesson. They are perfect for consolidation. What I find is the best use of them, though, is spaced repetition. Since the lesson notes include a very comprehensive overview of the lesson, you could print them out and use them for quick and efficient revision.

Russian Pod 101 Review: The Best

Russian Pod 101 Review

Here is what I believe makes Russian Pod special:

You get access to a never-ending amount of lessons!

How so? While they are selling their software as a product — you pay once and you get lifetime access, the program is not static. Russian Pod is constantly adding new lessons for you. This practically means that you never run out of content. It would be the equivalent of paying for one book in the bookstore and getting access to all of the books plus the books that come out in future. Honestly, I can’t even see why Russian Pod is being so generous. They could easily sell their product as is and stop adding new lessons. But they do not and I advise you to take full advantage of that!

Russian Pod 101 Review: The Bad

You can’t have it all be great, can you?

Well, one thing I did not like at all about Russian Pod is the lack of new lesson notification. Granted, it is amazing that they keep posting new lessons and they do so so often that you might get tired of the constant reminders.

Still, I feel like your motivation could benefit a lot from being notified about new lessons so that you can get the most out of what you are paying for.

Another one would be that they will not let you chose your own username. Not too big of a deal, but why?

Was this Russian Pod 101 review useful for you? Do you agree with/hate on any of my points? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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