Can You Learn Russian By Watching Movies?

Learning Russian is fun. And the more things you can do to reinforce this way of thinking, the more progress you’ll make. So here’s an article about watching Russian movies. They’re a great way to practice your Russian plus they’re fun to watch. But what is the best way to approach this? Let’s find out.

Why watching movies is an underrated strategy for learning Russian?

What sounds like more fun to you? Watching an exciting movie about the legendary Russian warrior Kolovrat who battles the Mongol horde for 2 hours? Or sitting down with a textbook at your desk and spending the next 2 hours reading about the genitive case?

If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to watch the movie. Now, I’m not saying that reading books, listening to podcasts and doing vocabulary drills don’t have their time and place in any Russian learning regime, but you can make things a lot more interesting by watching movies.

They’re a good way to:

  • Become better at listening to Russian speech
  • Learn relevant vocabulary
  • Train your brain and ears to distinguish between words and phrases
  • Improve your accent – because you’re hearing correct Russian all the time
  • Learn a ton about the Russian culture

Plus: like we said before, it’s easier to put in more time learning Russian when you’re watching a movie. And the more time you put in, the faster you’ll progress in any given timeframe.

How to incorporate Russian movies into your Russian practice:

First you need to check at what level you are. Can you watch them without subtitles? Or do you miss the plot if you do that? How about watching it with Russian subtitles? Maybe you find it too easy with English subtitles – but only speech might be too difficult. In that case Russian subtitles will work.

I think it’s more important that you can understand the plot and enjoy it, than making it into a brain-melting exercise. Sure, turn off the subtitles the first couple of minutes to test yourself – but after that, just enjoy it and focus on understanding everything with subtitles.

Chances are that you’re already watching some series or movies every day after work/school, so it will be easy to get into the habit of watching Russian movies. Just switch your English/native media for Russian.

I’ve found that around 20 minutes per day is enough to see real progress in your Russian. It won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with it for a month, you’ll find that your understanding of spoken Russian will improve!

Here are some of my favorites:

We’re lucky, because there are hundreds of good movies available on YouTube. Most of the old ones include subtitles, but it can be difficult to find newer movies with subs. Here are some of the movies you’ll enjoy watching:

Soviet movies:

Here is the list of recommendations from Daria – the movies that she uses in her “Learn Russian with Russian Movies” course. Check it out if you’re interested in a complete program that uses movies to teach real-life dialogue.

Modern movies:

Final words

Watching Russian movies is a great way to supplement your language training. They’re fun to watch, you’ll improve your vocabulary, understanding of spoken Russian and you’ll learn a lot about Russian culture. This list gives you some good movies that you can start with if you’re interested.

Have you watched Russian movies before? Let us now your favorites in the comments!

This is a guest post from Jamie Russell from