|Transparent Russian||Pimsleur Russian||Rosetta Stone Russian||Living Language Russian||BYKI Russian|
|Ease of Usage|
|Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Website||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Russian is the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It is also the fifth largest language in the world by total number of speakers, and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Russian is a difficult language to learn, and its reputation has earned it a level 3 classification in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers. Learners are estimated to require approximately 780 hours of immersion instruction to achieve intermediate fluency. The United States Intelligence Community has also classified the language a "hard target" language.
With this in mind, it is essential that you choose Russian language learning software that caters for your learning objectives and provides a fun and engaging experience. There are a number of Russian self-study courses on the market, but as you will see from my comparison table above, I have narrowed the choice down to what are in my opinion the top five courses on the market.
My first recommendation is Transparent Russian, primarily because of its learning diversity. There are three learning pathways to choose from; professional instruction, a complete all-in-one learning solution (as featured in my table and review) and an audio only course. The professional instruction starts at just $16.66 a month, and comes packed with pronunciation, writing and vocabulary-building lessons. The all-in-one learning solution features a flash card system containing over 2,000 words and phrases, an interactive multimedia learning environment and learn on-the-go audio lessons, which are available separately as a third purchase option. The only downside to the complete learning solution is that it's PC only; Mac users will have to choose between the professional instruction and on-the-go audio options.
My second recommendation is Pimsleur, which offers a choice between a physical CD course or mp3 download option, with the latter working out considerably cheaper. Pimsleur offers three learning levels, each of which you are required to pay for separately. Level 1 teaches simple conversations to near-native accent proficiency, covering topics such as giving and asking for basic directions, exchanging money and other general social commands. Level 2 increases confidence and fluency, allowing you to communicate ideas with greater accuracy and detail, and Level 3 teaches you to move easily between formal and informal conversations and to hear and use subtle nuances in a variety of situations. Pimsleur is an extremely good learning platform, but the cost is far higher than Transparent Russian, and lacks a complete learning package that you can purchase in one go.
Rosetta Stone is a well-deserved third, and as you might expect is professionally polished with quality audio and a diverse range of lessons. However, when considering this option, be aware that Rosetta Stone relies heavily on the controversial image-word association recall technique, which some get on well with and others find frustrating.
Learning Russian is a big challenge to undertake, but one you'll relish and enjoy if you choose the software best suited to your needs. Of course, budget will be a primary consideration, but also bear in mind that you will need a solid year to learn Russian to a high degree of proficiency, and therefore it's a good idea to invest in a course that will take you the distance in one go, rather than having to interrupt your study to invest in the next learning level.