"Russian Pronunciation for Beginners" – An Easy Way to Learn Russian Words

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Before you start reading the overview of this course, you may want to:

  1. take a look at the description of Pronunciation Player – the software you will be using to download and watch this course,
  2. read my article "A Complete Guide to Language Learning. Part 1. Learning Pronunciation".

 

What Is "Russian Pronunciation for Beginners"?

Russian Pronunciation for Beginners – screenshot

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The full version of the course contains 3,517 video clips of 3,080 Russian words read by a native speaker. The speaker was shot with two HD video cameras from two different angles (front and side view). This way, you will be able to understand and imitate better the movements of the speech organs.

Sample videos can be watched online for free on the page about the sounds of the Russian language.

Download sample video clips:

 

How the Russian Words Were Selected

The most frequent Russian words

It is quite reasonable for a person who starts to learn the Russian language to first learn the most popular Russian words. When I was selecting the words, I used a Russian word frequency list in order to decide which words should be included in this course. Most Russian frequency dictionaries show only the combined frequency index of all the forms of a particular word. For example, all forms of the verb "быть" have the same frequency index in such dictionaries. I instead used the frequency list that gives a frequency index for each derived form of Russian words, and included the most frequently used forms of Russian words.

Let's take the Russian word "голова" ("head") for example. The accusative case of the singular form ("Я увидел голову" = "I saw a head") is way more popular than the prepositional case of the plural form ("На головах у них были шапки" = "They were wearing caps on their heads"). And, although eventually you will have to learn all the forms of this word, in my opinion, it makes more sense to start with the most popular form, "голову". You will be better prepared for real life communication in Russian, both as a passive listener and as an active speaker.

Lots of examples of each Russian sound

What I also wanted to do was to give you a sufficient number of examples for each Russian sound as they are pronounced at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of words. Some sounds, such as [xʲ] ("тихий" [tʲˈixʲɪj] = "quiet"), are relatively rare in the Russian language, but again, only the most popular Russian word forms are included for each sound in each position.

Russian consonant clusters

As you may know, quite often in Russian words there are three or four consonants that appear one after another (so-called consonant clusters). Take the famous "Здравствуйте!" [zdrˈastvʊjtʲɪ] ("Hello!"), for example. The words containing such consonant combinations can be real tongue-twisters. What I did was analyze the 59 most popular Russian three-consonant clusters, and included the words containing these clusters in the course for you to practice.

Double consonants

Special attention was paid to double consonant letters and double consonant sounds. In Russian, sometimes double letters are pronounced as double sounds, sometimes not. The course includes words for each double sound and letter, so you will be able to learn all these cases.

When I was choosing examples of words with double or triple consonants, sometimes I had to include some rare words. What if you are a beginner, and you do not want to learn these rare words right now? Well, Pronunciation Player highlights words in different colors according to their frequency rating. You can also sort words by their frequency rating. This way you will be able to choose the words that suit your level.

I hope, by now, you understand how all aspects of Russian phonetics are covered in this course. So, if you are really determined to improve your Russian pronunciation to perfection, with this course you will have enough material for you to practice, whether you are a beginner or an advanced student.

P.S. I did not include some popular words (prepositions, particles) in the course, because their pronunciation is different in normal speech and it is very unlikely that you will ever hear them pronounced separately or ever need to do so yourself.

 

Subtitles

All video clips have three types of subtitles, each of which can be turned on and off separately:

  • Russian subtitles – spelling of the word in Russian. These subtitles will help you learn Russian pronunciation rules (see next section below).
  • Phonetic transcription subtitles. These will help you make out some unfamiliar sounds and pronounce them better.
  • English and French translations. To be honest, I do not recommend learning the meaning of isolated words, especially if a given word is very popular and has many meanings. But for those of you who want to know right away what all these words mean, I included English and French translations for all of them.

 

Russian Pronunciation Rules

I deliberately left out any text description of Russian pronunciation rules for each Russian letter. Why? Let me explain.

At the beginning of 2014, I created a Russian phonetic transcription translator – a tool that automatically converts Russian text to its phonetic transcription. So I had to manually describe all the Russian pronunciation rules for each and every Russian letter. And believe me, there are too many rules and too many exceptions for you to learn them consciously. For example, the letter "а" can be pronounced in five different ways, depending on surrounding consonants, vowels and stress position.

If you want to spend 10 seconds analyzing a word in order to figure out how to pronounce it, well, you can do that, but I recommend you choose an easier way to learn Russian pronunciation rules. Start repeating Russian words from the course, learn them by heart, make them part of yourself. I guarantee that after a certain amount of practice, you will be able to read ANY Russian word, if you know the stress position in it.

 

Speech Rate

All words from this course are pronounced slowly with good articulation, so you will be able to imitate the native speaker easily. But I know that sometimes even "slow" is not slow enough for beginners – you just can't make out all the sounds of a particular word (the word can be long, or it can contain a lot of unfamiliar sounds). In order to solve this problem, Pronunciation Player allows you to decrease the playback speed by 50% and see how the lips move in slow-motion. What is really unique about this feature is that a special sound processing technology was used to keep the voice sound natural and without distortion during this slow playback.

For the most popular Russian words, there are two extra recordings:

  • Recordings with normal speech rate – which is the speed of normal conversation. These recordings will help you get used to how the most popular Russian words sound when pronounced by native speakers while they speak naturally with each other.
  • Recordings with questioning intonation. Just like in English, in Russian you can sometimes ask a question with a single word, like "Ты?" ("You?"). Guess what, this questioning intonation is not exactly the same in Russian and English. In order to sound natural when you ask such questions, you can practice with these additional recordings and improve your Russian even more.

 

Download Size

The total size of all files of the course after download is 905 MB.

 

Price of the Course

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