Russian is the study of the Russian language and its literature, films and culture. Usually this involves studying texts and films, and exercises such as practising grammar and translation, and widening vocabulary. While some people enter a degree in Russian with prior knowledge, many learn it from scratch at university.
Here are some general resources related to Russian. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which Russian related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
These resources are particularly useful for brushing up on your grammar, vocabulary and spoken Russian, which are essential for your degree. You could come back to these resources in the summer between A Levels (or equivalent) and starting university, if you wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten all the language skills you’d learned!
Master Russian 🔗 🌟 A useful, free, site that has articles on various parts of Russian grammar. It could be helpful if you wanted to brush up on aspects of your Russian before any tests as part of the application process.
Many people learn Russian from scratch at university, and one of the first obstacles you will need to overcome is the alphabet. While the Cyrillic alphabet might look intimidating, it soon becomes very easy to decipher how almost any word in Russian is pronounced since words are (for the most part) phonetic.
Here’s some useful websites to help you to learn to read Cyrillic:
Russian for Everyone 🔗 🌟 This is a good resource as it shows both the printed and a handwritten (cursive) letter. The approximate pronunciation is given too.
These are an excellent pool of resources for your super-curricular reading which you might add to your personal statement. They are a particularly useful way of finding digitised editions of early and modern Russian literature. Take your pick!
Institute of Russian Literature Electronic Publications 🔗 This is a digitised edition of a collection of earlier Russian literature in the original and modern Russian translations. This is useful if you would like to read something outside of the more well-known 19th century authors, also many of them are shorter therefore making reading them in Russian a much more realistic prospect. Reading in this period is not necessary for an application but if this period interests you, here’s where you can read works from it.
Project Gutenberg 🔗 Pretty much any Russian book you will have heard of is freely available here. Everything from ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ to the poems of Pushkin and Chekov’s short stories can be found.
These videos are a great way to engage with Russian. Watch them to get a sense of whether studying it is right for you. If anything catches your interest, take a note and follow it up via Google or connecting it with work you’ve already done - again, this could come in handy when it comes to writing your personal statement.
‘School of Life’’ 🔗 This YouTube channel has some very interesting and short introductions to the works of some of the most famous names in Russian literature. It is best suited to getting a brief overview of names that you may have heard before and don’t really know much about to see if their life or works relates to something you are already thinking about, or provokes new thought or interest that can be pursued in more detail in other places.
YouTube videos are also a great way of hearing what Russian sounds like. Try these channels:
Be Fluent in Russian 🔗 🌟 This is a great channel for learning snippets of conversation, phrases to use, or small chunks of grammar.
Boost your Russian 🔗 🌟 This is a fantastic channel, especially as it has loads of videos breaking down political speeches or movie scenes that are in natural Russian, slowing them down and giving any difficult vocab.
Podcasts are a great way of integrating Russian into your everyday life - listen while you’re doing the dishes or on a walk. They could be useful in helping you find new areas of interest, and in writing your personal statement. Podcasts are a particularly useful means of learning not only about Russian language, but about Russia’s history and culture in accessible, short bites of information.
‘Russian Rulers History Podcast’ 🔗 🌟 This Podcast is researched and presented by a real Russian history enthusiast. It is ideal if you are looking for bite-sized ways to find out more historical context to any Russian literature you may be reading, or just to find out more about the history of Russia. It is particularly useful for learning about earlier Russian History (anything before Peter I), however all the episodes are useful and well researched. This can be used at the beginning of the university application process: it will give you a broad impression of Russia’s history and culture, which might point you in a few directions that you might want to explore further in your personal statement.
‘In Our Time’ 🔗 A very good and very popular podcast. There are several episodes relating to Russian and Russian literature, both on authors and specific works. Examples include Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, Anna Akhmatova, Pushkin’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, Chekhov, and Tolstoy. You could listen to this podcast after reading one of these texts, and compare your thoughts with the panellists. This would make a good few lines in a personal statement, showing your ability to work with both your own thoughts and secondary sources to form an argument.
‘The History of Literature Podcast’ 🔗 In this podcast, several Russian authors and individual works are usually discussed at length. This is a useful source of information and critical opinions. In particular, have a look at Episode 150: Chekhov’s “Lady with the Little Dog” 🔗. This (lengthy but fascinating!) podcast reads the story, provides analysis and discusses the potential problems arising in translation. All of this would be useful for writing your personal statement.
Cartoons are a good way of getting your ear into the language and seeing the culture of a country. Watching cartoons is also brilliant for picking up bits of vocab and phrases!
Masha i Medved (Masha and the Bear) 🔗 🌟 This series follows Masha, a mischievous little girl and her friend the bear. It is easy to find both Russian and English language versions of this cartoon so it is perfect for beginners!
Cheburashka 🔗 This is a cute little animation about an animal of unknown origin called Cheburashka who befriends a crocodile called Gena. There are several films, but the video linked here has English subtitles.