One of the best ways to skyrocket your progress in Russian is to immerse yourself in it. And what better (and fun) way to do that than to watch Russian TV series? If you’re learning Russian you’ll love the following 7 best Russian TV shows for learning Russian.
After that, I’ll give you the exact plan of how I incorporated Russian TV series into my learning. So feel free to copy that if you’re serious about learning Russian!
By the way: I only picked series that are freely available on YouTube. Check out the links in the description. I also added where possible if they’re with English subs. So if you’re just starting out, it’s better to watch them with English subtitles so you get a feeling for the language.
7 of the best Russian TV shows for learning Russian
There’s no need to watch all of these series at the same time.
Slowly read through my descriptions of each series – and then choose one to watch.
#1 How I became Russian
How I became Russian is the story of Alex, an American reporter who moves to Moscow for his work, and gets his ‘real Russian’ education. His grandma was Russian, so he does know a bit of the language – but unfortunately none of the Russian customs, culture, and habits.
Which turns out pretty unlucky for him – but incredibly fun for us.
They basically used all the funny and interesting Russian customs (such as only bringing an uneven number of flowers for a girl on a date) and created fun scenarios with it.
And at the end of each episode, Alex writes in his blog about what he learned that episode about Russian culture and mentality.
You can watch “How I became Russian here” – unfortunately, there are no English Subtitles.
#2 Top of the World
Top of the World is a series about two guys and a young girl who want to open a hostel in Moscow. Their apartment has a roof with a beautiful view of the city – hence the name Top of the World.
However, they experience a lot of troubles and challenges along the way (including a pissed-off neighbor, who tries to block all their plans for opening a hostel).
It’s a fun series to watch and you’ll also learn some things about corruption and bureaucracy.
You can watch “Top of the World” here – and unfortunately, there are also no English subtitles available.
This Russian TV series is a bit older and if you’re looking for a TV show on how the Russian life in the army was 15 years ago, then you should definitely watch Soldiers.
It’s about new recruits who are enlisted in the army (which is mandatory in Russia) and making the best out of their situation.
They develop lifelong friendships, overcome difficult obstacles, and of course fall in love with the camp nurse.
Watch ‘Soldiers’ here. Unfortunately, again no English subtitles are available.
#4 WW1 Documentary (and everything else from StarMediaEN)
Here’s something different. A long documentary about the First World war. The series and documentaries from StarMediaEN were one of the first ones that I watched when I started learning Russian.
They’re well made – cover a wide range of different topics and best of all for new Russian learners: they’re available with English and Russian subtitles.
So you can watch them with Russian voices, and English subtitles. This is perfect for any beginner Russian learner, as your brain and ears will get used to the Russian language.
Check their WW1 documentary here.
#5 Spies must die
Spies must die is another StarMediaEN series. They’re detective shows, located in the Soviet Union (usually with a war theme) and they’re with less action and more dialogue.
They cover a wide range of times and locations and are perfect if you’re looking for a fun detective series. Again, they’re available with English subtitles, so they’re perfect for beginner learners. Especially if you like the Soviet Union theme.
Click here for the StarMediaEN channel and search there for Spies Must Die.
This series is all about the adventures of the cooks and workers in a kitchen. A good show for intermediate learners, as the vocabulary isn’t too advanced. On the Youtube version, there are no English subtitles. However, you can buy the version with subtitles on Amazon.
This is the Russian version of the popular sitcom ‘Scrubs’. It follows interns in a hospital who try to make their way through the trials and medical challenges. There are also no subtitles, but the speed of talking is relatively slow.
How to use Russian TV series for learning Russian?
To make sure that we’re on the same level, I’ve added here a step-by-step guide on how to use these best Russian TV series for learning Russian. In the first couple of steps, we’ll find out which type of series is correct for you. Then there are some tips and tricks on how to apply the learning best to your life. After that we’ll discuss the reasons why watching Russian TV shows is such a good idea if you’re learning the language.
Step 1: what’s your level in Russian?
First of all, what’s your current fluency in Russian? Don’t lie to yourself here – but take an objective approach. Are you just starting out – or did you already learn some Russian?
The more advanced you are, the wider the choice of series is. If you’re a beginner, for example, it’s not a great idea to start watching WW2 documentaries with a lot of difficult terms without any subtitles whatsoever.
And also, cartoons are not the best option. They might look fun to watch and have a relatively simple vocabulary. But what I’ve found is that the high-pitched voices often make it very difficult for beginners to understand what they are saying. So keep the fun cartoons for a later level?
Step 2: Do you need English (or Russian) subtitles?
Beginners should watch Russian shows with English subtitles. That way you’ll still be able to follow the plot, but your subconscious will learn a lot of Russian.
Once you find that you’re at the intermediate level – you might want to switch to Russian subtitles. This will be a big step and don’t be surprised if it feels very overwhelming at first. Don’t worry about that and see how far you can come.
If after a couple of episodes, you still feel like you don’t get anything, there are 2 things that can be the culprit. First thing is that maybe you’re watching a series with too difficult a vocabulary. Try switching to simpler Russian shows (for example: “How I became Russian”). If that’s also too difficult – then go back for a while to watch them with English subtitles.
Step 3: What are you interested in?
Another good question. If you hate war-themed movies, then don’t try to watch World War 2 documentaries. And if you can’t stand the awkward situation humor that some of the newer Russian series have – then skip them!
You’re not obliged to watch a specific show just because some people say that it’s a great show for learning Russian.
The most important part is that you enjoy whatever you’re watching. Plus, there are so many good Russian shows out there, that it’s literally impossible to go through all of them.
So pick a couple of genres that you like, and find the right series for them.
Step 4: Just get started!
Once you’ve made a list of a couple of series that you’d like to watch – which are at your level of Russian, just get started watching them.
It might feel a bit uncomfortable (especially if you’re at the stage without English subtitles) but just stick with it for a couple of episodes. Your brain needs time to get used to the Russian, and once you get into it, you’ll find that following the plot becomes easier and easier over time.
Step 5: Watch for at least 20 minutes per day (or aim for the brain melt)
If you want to get the most out of watching TV shows in Russian, I recommend you try to watch at least every day. This will create a habit and before you know it, you’ll be craving to watch your daily series. In a couple of months, your Russian will have improved a lot.
20 minutes is a good starting time. But feel free to watch for as long as you can. It’s a learning thing, so you can spend your time guilty free and watching series!
If you feel 20 minutes is too much – and you’re getting that brain melt after only 5 minutes of watching. Then you can either continue with watching just a couple of minutes per day. That will soon become 10 minutes and 20 minutes the more you practice.
Also, you can decide to go down a notch and find an easier series or turn subtitles on after several minutes.
Another helpful tip is to stop watching English series, and only watch Russian ones. They’re just as fun and your progress in Russian will skyrocket!
Why Russian TV series are so good for learning Russian
Here I’ve listed the top reasons why I think it’s a great idea to watch Russian series (and Russian movies). Especially for those who are learning Russian.
#1 It’s fun
This is on number 1 for a reason. You see, the more practice and time you put into learning Russian, the better you’re going to become. So if you can decide between spending 2 hours of studying a grammar book at your desk – or watching a fun series in Russian for 2 hours… which one are you more likely to choose?
Exactly: watching the series. Because it draws you in and keeps your attention with an interesting plot and humor – it will be 10 times easier to spend a lot of time on it.
So if you’re stuck in a rut and find that it’s difficult to focus on regular learning, maybe you need to switch up your routine and just watch a good series. That will help you get to the next level in Russian.
Oh, and maybe you’re the type of person who always feels like he needs to do something useful with his time? Then watching Russian television shows will help relax you while learning something that’s important to you.
#2 You’ll learn helpful vocabulary
You can learn vocabulary by memorizing lists. Or by using a spaced repetition program. But still, when doing that you’re not going to know which words are often used – and which ones aren’t.
By watching series (especially modern ones), you’ll quickly find out which words are commonly used by native speakers. This will help you focus in on learning useful vocabulary.
Plus you’ll learn a lot of new words in context. So you’re more likely to remember them. So it’s a double punch:
You’ll find out exactly which words you need to focus on and which ones are important. Plus you’ll be able to better remember them!
#3 train your brain and ears to understand Russian
This is arguably one of the best functional improvements that you’ll gain from watching Russian series. It is that your brain and ears will get trained to the Russian language.
It’s especially helpful for beginners. Remember when you just started out and Russian sounded like a string of weird sounds? And you couldn’t even distinguish between a single word? That’s exactly the thing that watching good TV shows will help you with.
Because it’s just a matter of listening to Russian for an extended period of time. Training your ears to distinguish individual words when hearing Russian. And the great thing is that you don’t even have to put in full effort for this. Just by consciously listening to Russian speech, you’ll learn it. So even if you use English subtitles, you’ll quickly get a feeling for listening.
#4 Learn about Russian history and culture
The next thing I want to talk about isn’t often mentioned. But I think watching the best Russian TV series is a great way for getting to know the Russian history and culture. Especially if you watch realistic series (like Soldiers) or documentaries, you’ll learn a ton of useful references and information about the Russian mentality, culture and history.
Plus you’ll get a lot of conversation topics for when you’re speaking with a native Russian. Since winters are long and cold, most Russian people spend a lot of time indoors in winter. And what better way to spend a cold winter evening, than watching a good series?
After you’ve watched a couple of series, it will be easy for you to find common ground with other Russian speakers. Because you’ve probably watched the same ones. At least some of them. Russians are often very happy that you’re showing interest in their culture and language. Because it’s actually pretty rare that a non-Russian person tries to learn Russian. So they’ll be very grateful that you’re taking the time to learn it.
Conclusion on the best Russian TV Shows for learning Russian
We’ve covered a lot of interesting topics in this Russian TV shows article. So if you’re interested in learning Russian, I highly recommend you check out some of the series mentioned in this article.
Feel free to follow my exact step by step guide for finding out which series will suit you well. And then try to watch for at least 20 minutes per day. This can be easily made into a habit by switching your English series for Russian ones.
You’ll probably see an increase in your understanding of Russian within the first couple of weeks already. And the longer you keep watching series, the better your Russian will become.
One thing I absolutely love about watching Russian TV shows is the guilt free leisure it offers. If you’re anything like me and always feel like you need to do something useful with your time – all the time. Then it can be very liberating to watch TV shows in Russian. On the one hand you’re relaxing and having a good time – while still practicing and becoming better in something that’s important to you.
What are your favorite Russian TV series? Or movies? Let us all know in the comments! Or share your experience how watching Russian TV /movies made you a better Russian speaker.
What should you do next?
Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:
- listening skills
- speaking skills
That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.
And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.
And then you will start making progress on autopilot.
This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.
If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.
What should I watch when learning Russian? ›
- 1. “ Солярис”
- 2. “ Сталкер”
- 3. “ Утомлённые солнцем”
- 4. “ Брат”
- 5. “ Каменный цветок”
- 6. “ Баллада о солдате”
- 7. “ Стиляги”
- 8. “ Сталинград”
You forgot that you'd promised to study Russian for an hour every day this month. Fortunately, there's a solution here (which you've probably already guessed). Watching Russian TV shows is a great, laidback way to study for when you don't necessarily have the energy to focus on memorizing vocab and grammar.What is the most effective way to learn Russian? ›
- Learn Cyrillic. ...
- Learn stressed (elongated) and unstressed (shortened) vowel sounds.
- Memorize Russian phrases and basic Russian words.
- Practice speaking Russian as much as possible, especially with native speakers.
Why is Russian one of the best languages to learn in 2022? Aside from English, Russian is the most spoken language in Europe. As a speaker of this language, I can assure you that you will never get lost around Europe by commanding it. A Russian-speaking person will always be there around the corner.Can Russian be self taught? ›
While total fluency will take years of practicing Russian and will likely require you to spend time in a Russian-speaking country, it's absolutely possible to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, plenty of Russian words, and the basics of Russian grammar in six months.How fast can Russian be learned? ›
The Foreign Service Institute of the United States has determined that it takes about 1100 hours of study to reach fluency in Russian. If you're willing to study 3 hours every day, it could take you a year to reach that level.How many years does it take to learn Russian fluently? ›
The Foreign Service Institute has determined it takes around 1100 hours for native English speakers to reach fluency in Russian. If you spend 60 minutes per day studying Russian, it will take you 3 years. If you spend 6 hours per day, you will reach an upper intermediate level in half a year.Can you learn Russian in 5 years? ›
Our Student Sabrina advises, if studying daily, it could be possible to become fluent in Russian in 5 years. And of course, the best way to speak Russian fluently is to move to Russia to be inside of the language environment, to immerse yourself in everyday activities and challenges.What is the most popular Russian TV channel? ›
"Rossiya 1", the main TV channel, traces its history back to May 1991. Today, Rossiya 1 is a national channel that broadcasts over most of the country. The channel's audience comprises 98.5 per cent of Russia's population and more than 50 million viewers in the CIS and Baltic countries.What is Russian television called? ›
VGTRK (All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company)
What is the Russian version of BBC? ›
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. BBC News Russian (Russian: BBC News Ру́сская слу́жба) – formerly BBC Russian Service (Russian: Ру́сская слу́жба Би-би-си́) – is part of the BBC World Service's foreign language output, one of nearly 40 languages it provides.Where is the best place to learn Russian? ›
13 Fabulously Free Resources to Learn Russian Without Spending a Dime
- Duolingo. ...
- Real Russian Club. ...
- Loecsen. ...
- Peace Corps Russian Courses with Live Lingua. ...
- RussianLessons.Net. ...
- Learn Russian.
The Art of Conversation. – Russians appreciate an interest from foreigners in the Russian language, so an attempt to learn or at least partially speak with them in their language is a good idea. – Many Russians speak English as it is often taught at school.How many hours a week should I learn Russian? ›
If you're an absolute beginner, 6 weeks of intensive study will be enough. By intensive, we mean about 120 hours of studying. This figure may sound scary, but in fact it's only 20 hours per week for 1.5 months (or 2 hours per day for about 2 months).Should I learn Russian or Ukrainian? ›
Russian is used more frequently as business language while Ukrainian is more favorite at home. In general the frequency of use of Ukrainian is highest in Western Ukraine and it gradually decreases as you move to east. I would suggest to you to learn Russian, as this is language much more spread on global level.What should I learn first in Russian? ›
If you are interested in learning the Russian language, the first thing to do to start learning the alphabet. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet which is completely different than the Latin alphabet used in English and many other Indo-European languages.Is learning Russian easier than Japanese? ›
After reading through all the differences, Russian probably comes across as the easier language to learn. And it is! For native English speakers, Russian is categorized as taking 44 weeks to learn (or 1,100 hours), while Japanese takes 88 weeks (2,200 hours).Is Russian worth studying? ›
Many studies have suggested that learning a new language improves brain function, providing better memory, more mental flexibility, and creativity. Learning a language from a different language family from your native language – for example, Russian – is a great way to maximize these benefits.What is the hardest part of learning Russian? ›
The grammar rules in Russian are very complex and have numerous exceptions. In addition, many learners struggle with the pronunciation – the stress in words is largely unpredictable and not marked in writing, while there are multiple homonyms.Is Russian valuable to learn? ›
Learning Russian can help you understand useful concepts for studying other languages. It will also help you understand your own language better! Taking on the task of learning Russian will profoundly change how you perceive language and understand the world around you.
How long does it take to get A2 in Russian? ›
A2 (Базовый – Basic) – By this time you expand your vocabulary and keep the conversation going about simple topics such as family and friends, food and traditional cuisine, traveling and transport, cities and directions. You need about 6-8 weeks (120-160 h) to achieve the Basic stage if you passed the Elementary exam.How many words do you need to know to be fluent in Russian? ›
I think 3000 to 3500 words or more may be more realistic a word count for level 1 to take into count the case endings. I think 20000 words in Russian is going to be a minimum and 30000 to 50000 words would be a more comfortable fluency level.What is the hardest language to learn? ›
Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.What is B2 level Russian? ›
|1st Certificate||Independent User||B1|
|3rd Certificate||Proficient User||C1|
- Spanish. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin, and not a surprise at the top of languages to learn. ...
- German. ...
- Arabic. ...
- Mandarin. ...
- Portuguese. ...
- Russian. ...
To sum up, you can calculate on your own: each level will take you approximately 6 weeks (about 160 academic hours in total). And if you (say, beginner) aim at B2 level, you need to spend about 30 weeks at Enjoy Russian School.How to learn Russian fast? ›
- Use Authentic Media.
- Immerse Yourself with a Good Program.
- Take the Time to Learn Cyrillic.
- Learn Common Words First.
- Learn Cognates and Loanwords.
- Immerse Yourself in Russian, at Home or Abroad.
- Practice Your Skills Daily. Microlearning sessions. Language sprints.
- Find a Native Speaker to Interact With.
For Russian – at 1100 hours – it's six years to fluency. Remember, that's to get to the heights of C1.Is Duolingo Russian good? ›
Does Duolingo teach Russian well? Duolingo offers a complete Russian course, but that doesn't mean it teaches the language well. If you're looking to pick up some useful words and phrases, it's a great option. If you want to become fluent in Russian though, Duolingo is not the best choice.What is TV like in Russia? ›
Television is the most popular medium in Russia, with 74% of the population watching national television channels routinely and 59% routinely watching regional channels. There are 3300 television channels in total.
Is Russian TV controlled by the government? ›
Russia TV (Rossiya) covers 98.5% of the country's territory and is state- owned. Channel One (Pervyj Kanal) covers 98.8% of Russia's territory and has a shared state and private ownership (51% state- 49% private).What is TV rain in Russia? ›
TV Rain (Russian: Дождь, tr. Dozhd, IPA: [ˈdoʂtʲ] ( listen); stylized as До///дь) is an independent television channel. It was launched in 2010 in Russia, and since 2022 was based in Latvia. It focuses on news, discussions, culture, politics, business reports, and documentaries, with most shows broadcast live.What is the most popular Russian media? ›
Komsomolskaya Pravda is the most popular newspaper in the country. The newspaper's website leads the ranking of the most visited electronic media with a daily audience of more than one and a half million people.What social media do Russian use? ›
|Characteristic||Share of respondents|
The company had already refused to follow Russia's new rules for audiovisual firms.What is B1 Russian? ›
B1 (ToRFL-I: the first level). The average level of the Russian language, which allows you to communicate at home, educational and professional fields. B2 (TORFL-II: the second level). Sufficiently high level of knowing Russian language, which is enough for communication in all spheres of activity.Do Russians listen to BBC? ›
The audience for the BBC's Russian language news website more than tripled its year-to-date weekly average, with a record reach of 10.7m people in the last week (compared to 3.1m). In English, bbc.com visitors in Russia were up 252% to 423,000 last week.Is it hard for Americans to learn Russian? ›
Of all the European languages a native English speaker can learn, Russian is among the most difficult. The Germanic and Romance languages have a lot of the same core because they both have roots in Latin. Russian is from a completely different language branch called the Slavonic branch, which includes Czech and Polish.Is kissing normal in Russia? ›
Women generally kiss people three times on alternating cheeks starting on the left. Male friends may hug one another or give each other a pat on the back. An old superstition advises that you should never greet someone by shaking hands or kissing them whilst on the threshold of the doorstep.What is considered rude in Russian? ›
Hugs, backslapping, kisses on the cheeks and other expansive gestures are common among friends or acquaintances and between members of the same sex. Russians stand close when talking. Putting your thumb through your index and middle fingers or making the "OK" sign are considered very rude gestures in Russia.
Do Russians make good friends? ›
Russians allow friends very deep in their life, actively share both good and bad news and expect a lot of involvement from friends in finding solutions to problems.Is it smart to learn Russian? ›
Since Russian is a global language with so many speakers, learning the language could be a great step for anyone's career. With many Russian-speaking nations experiencing economic upswings, knowing the language could be the key to striking the ideal business deal.What's the easiest language to learn? ›
- Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
- Dutch. ...
- Norwegian. ...
- Spanish. ...
- Portuguese. ...
- Italian. ...
- French. ...
Russian school schedules extend from Monday to Friday in most places, with kids typically attending from about 8 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m.What should you learn first when learning Russian? ›
If you are interested in learning the Russian language, the first thing to do to start learning the alphabet. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet which is completely different than the Latin alphabet used in English and many other Indo-European languages.Is Russian a easy language to learn? ›
Russian is widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. This is mostly true, if you have no knowledge of other Slavic languages (e.g. Bulgarian or Czech). The grammar rules in Russian are very complex and have numerous exceptions.How many hours learn Russian? ›
The Foreign Service Institute of the United States has determined that it takes about 1100 hours of study to reach fluency in Russian. If you're willing to study 3 hours every day, it could take you a year to reach that level.How long does it take to learn B1 Russian? ›
Most students achieve the intermediate level (B1) in approximately 1.5 years. During this time, they spend around 500 hours actively learning. This equates to no more than 1 hour daily. Of course, you can go on learning Russian for 2 hours per day as you've been doing.What level is Russian to learn? ›
There are the following learning levels in Russian:
A1 – elementary (Beginner / Elementary) A2 – basic (Elementary/Pre-intermediate) B1 – threshold level (Intermediate) B2 – post-threshold level (Upper-Intermediate)
I think 3000 to 3500 words or more may be more realistic a word count for level 1 to take into count the case endings. I think 20000 words in Russian is going to be a minimum and 30000 to 50000 words would be a more comfortable fluency level.
Is Russian harder than Spanish? ›
Russian is more difficult, in that the grammar is more complex, although verb tenses in Spanish are no piece of cake, and there other tricky elements. It is also true that having to read in a less familiar alphabet also makes the language more difficult, and more tiring to read.How long hard is to learn Russian? ›
Therefore, according to FSI findings, Russian is in Language Group IV and it will take you around 1,100 hours to learn it. Russian may be one of the difficult languages for English speakers to learn, but that makes it all the more rewarding!Which language is richer English or Russian? ›
Counting the Words in the Dictionary.
|Language||Words in the Dictionary|
A majority of countries recognise degrees from Russian universities. However, as any education document received in a foreign country, an academic degree requires legalisation in the Russian Federation, to be followed by recognition in accordance with the laws of the country where the degree certificate is shown.