Добро пожаловать!

When Here I’ll share my experiences learning Russian. Reading about the challenges I faced and how I went about tackling them might save a fellow learner some time and/or give them a sense of solidarity.

I’ve been learning Russian since December of 2019. I believe there is no end to learning a language. There’s always something unknown waiting to be acquired.


Language learning theory

Movies watched


Other resource lists

YouTube (personal recommendations)

















Russian learning



Tabletop roleplaying games

Talk radio

Talking head/video essay




Other channels



Anki Setup

Note type


Note type fields

Card Template

  • Front

    <div class="tag">{{#Tags}}|{{/Tags}}{{Tags}}</div>
    <div class="text">{{Expression}}</div>
  • Back

    <hr id="answer" />
    <div class="text">{{morphHighlight:Expression}}</div>
    <hr />
      <div>{{Monolingual Definition}}</div>
    <hr />
      <div>{{Bilingual Definition}}</div>

Card styling

.card {
  font-size: 22px;
  background-color: #fffaf0;
  text-align: left;
  color: #333;

.tag {
  color: #585858;
  font-size: 20px;
  margin-top: 10px;
  margin-bottom: 10px;

.text {
  margin-top: 10px;
  margin-bottom: 10px;
  font-size: 35px;

.meaning {
  margin-top: 10px;
  margin-bottom: 10px;
  font-size: 22px;

b {
  color: #000;

[mtype='unknown'] {
  background-color: #ffff99;
[mtype='seen'] {
  background-color: #ffd1b3;
[mtype='known'] {
  background-color: #b3e6cc;
[mtype='mature'] {
  background-color: #f2f2f2;
[priority='true'] {
  text-decoration: underline;
[frequency='true'] {
  text-decoration: underline;


Paste these in your browser’s console in the DevTools. Press F12 while in your browser to open DevTools.

Extract a sorted list of italki teachers by cost

var x = [...document.querySelector('.teachers').children].map((i) =>
    ? [
          ? i.children[0].children[1].children[0].children[2]?.children[0]
          : i.children[0].children[1].children[0].children[1]?.children[0]
    : '',
console.log([i, n]) => [i ? +i.substring(4) : 999, n]).sort((a, b) => a[0] - b[0]),
); wordbook export

[...document.querySelector('.Entries > main:nth-child(2)').children]
  .flatMap((i) => [i.children[0], i.children[1]])
    (i) => i.children[1].children[0].innerText + ',' + i.children[2].innerText,

Lingro wordlist export

  .filter((i) => i.nodeName === 'SPAN')
  .map((i) => i.children[1].innerText)

December 2019


The beginning…


I decided to learn a language in mid-December. Initially, I tried learning 4 languages in Duolingo. Russian, Spanish, Hebrew & Arabic.

After a few days of that self-torture, it was quite apparent that I had to choose one if I was going to be serious about it.

For a variety of reasons, I ended up choosing Russian. (Side note: I already had a basic grasp of Spanish from previous learning attempts and from a lot of IRL exposure. This would have been the optimal choice, but I guess the contrarian in me won out)

I don’t enjoy tracking, so my timeline is messy. I’ll try to remember what I can and share it here.

Fortunately, I do remember the major things that I did this month They are:

  • Learned Cyrillic. Don’t remember it being too hard.
  • Started watching a course for beginners, don’t remember finishing it.
  • Added some Russian songs to my library.
  • Started watching Easy Languages videos.
  • Watched a lot of beginner content.
  • Occasionally watched kids cartoons.
  • Started listening to Russian ASMR.

January 2020


This month was filled with a lot of experimentation. I tried a lot of language learning methods and cherry-picked ideas I liked from all of those methods. This journal entry details my experiences with some of those methods.


Looking for language learning methods online, I found Gabriel Wyner’s [Fluent Forever method]It was around this time that they’d released their app, so I decided to try it out. While it was definitely better than Duolingo, the cost-to-benefit ratio wasn’t good. If I recall correctly, it was around $10/month, and it definitely was not worth that much.

There was a silver lining though. Turns out, they had a few tutorials on Anki. So I made some picture vocab cards and some cloze deletion cards over the next few weeks.

Later in the month, I found the act of actually making the cards very tiring. So I looked around for some pre-made decks and tried a few. I would do my reviews intermittently, but Anki never really became a habit.

Midway through the month, I discovered “learning through immersion” courtesy of ariinbeijing. I really liked this idea, because it didn’t feel like work/study. Just watch and listen to Russian content and profit!

It also introduced me to sentence mining. Even though I liked the idea, I would not start seriously mining for sentences until much later in my journey.

Also tried out LingQ after watching a few Steve Kaufmann videos. It seemed like a great concept, but the site just didn’t jive with me. It was a combination of bad UX, bad design and the high cost. Plus, I didn’t want to read.

Moving away from Anki and the whole card creation process, I was enticed by Lýdia Machová’s gold list method. For those unfamiliar, it’s a glorified physical flashcard system with a few quirks of it’s own. I made a few entries in a notebook. Reviewed them a couple times. Alas, I couldn’t stick with it either.

Finally, I concluded that immersion learning was the way to go. It fit my habits and I enjoyed doing it.

Also, I occasionally listened to Russian with Max and Tatiana Klimova’s Русский Подкаст.

February 2020


I found Comprehensible Russian by Inna this month. It is by far the best beginner content available to Russian learners.


Started off the month with a new app, Busuu. I started using it on the recommendation of Days of French ‘n’ Swedish. Lamont made his case for the app quite elegantly and I found it to be a much better and social experience compared to Duolingo.

Towards the end of the month, found the goldmine of comprehensible input for Russian: Comprehensible Russian by Inna.

P.S. I watched her videos on and off for ~5 months (until late-July).

March 2020


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

April 2020


Discovered the mass immersion approach (MIA) from Matt vs. Japan’s YT channel. And soon after, started following it.


I knew immersion learning was key, but I had no real plan or structure to my immersion. MIA led me to other people’s experiences with immersion. Some of them had crazy workflows with long days of active immersion. Whereas others were a bit more relaxed while still maintaining a structure and schedule.

The major thing I got out of this was control. I now had a specific name for all the activities I did when I immersed. These include active immersion, passive immersion, background immersion, mining 1T (1 target / i+1) sentences, intensive immersion, free-flow immersion and many more such terms.

Also watched many of Stephen Krashen’s videos. He’s the guy who popularized the comprehensible input hypothesis. If memory serves, he stated in a lecture that someone else had already published a paper on it before him, but I’m not entirely sure.

May 2020


Passively immersing in podcasts FTW!


May marks the beginning of my journey of passively listening to podcasts. Note that these were podcasts intended for native Russian speakers by native Russian speakers, not podcasts for learners.

P.S. I listened to an hour of podcasts passively every weekday (on average) all the way through September.

June 2020


Started participating in language exchanges.


I joined HelloTalk and Tandem. I liked Tandem’s UI, but HelloTalk had more features.

July 2020


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

August 2020


The second-coming of Anki.


I finally got around to sentence mining. At this juncture, I was barely using Anki and it felt like I was missing out on a very useful tool.

Since I despised making sentence cards manually, I learned to use Subs2Srs and Morphman.

September 2020


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

October 2020


A fling with German…


A lot of things led me to learn German alongside Russian. This had nothing to do with me being bored with Russian. It was the culmination of a lot of things - a career crisis, uncertainty, doubt etc. Suffice to say, it’s hard to put into words.

Anyways, I got a starter deck (Goethe Institute A1 Wordlist). It was an alright deck.

P.S. Thankfully, I gained some clarity 10 weeks down the line, and quit German. Learning 2 languages (to a high level) at a time was not my cup of tea. But I do think, that with enough free time and motivation, one can do it.

November 2020


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

December 2020


The reading phase begins. Also, MIA is no longer a thing. Refold is where it’s at.


Up until now, I hadn’t really read anything besides subtitles and chat messages. Now I wanted to move onto books.

I looked around for some easy content. Some of the recommendations were comics, manga, translated works and graded readers. I liked the idea of graded readers, but couldn’t find any online. However, I did find some bilingual readers.

I started reading them in conjunction with the audiobook. This helped me focus on the story without getting lost in the words. This is 2-channel reading according to Refold.

I then moved onto Чайка (пьеса Чехова). With the same reading process as described above.

January 2021


More reading. And happy new year!


Wanted a try some non-fiction. So, started reading the Russian translation of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari in LWT (Learning with Texts - LingQ-esque open source tool).

P.S. Abandoned the book a few chapters in.

February 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

March 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

April 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

May 2021


Short stories.


I’ve now read 6 short stories (listed below).

These were way harder than I’d anticipated. But I’m glad I read them. It made me want to read more.I feel particularly good about finishing them because it’s been hard for me to sit down and read. I’ve read a grand total of 5 books in the past 5 years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading. In fact it was one of my favorite pastimes as a kid. But there are so many distractions these days - both good and bad - that reading gets sidelined.

Anyways, towards the end of the month, I participated in a book club in a Refold Discord server. I read Тайна острова сокровищ, the Russian translation of the book Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton. It was easier than the other stuff I’d read. The main thing that tripped me up was some descriptive vocab. All in all it was a fun experience. Reading with the book club did wonders for my motivation.

I’ve also been thinking about speaking. The last time I had a conversation in Russian was around August 2020. I’ve written a bit in Russian since then but I’ve been spending the majority of my time in the language consuming content.

I recently joined Clubhouse. It’s a social media platform where people talk in public rooms (voice calls). I found a lot of Russian rooms on there. Lurking in some of those rooms, I was exposed to something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. Live conversation. And I expected to understand some things here and there but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could actually understand most of what they were saying. At first I thought it was a fluke and it was only because they were talking about relatively simple life stuff. However, after joining more rooms the self-doubt subsided and I was able to think more clearly about my level of comprehension. It’s definitely not where I want it to be. Although I can understand most of what is being said (if I know what they’re talking about/if the topic is familiar), it still requires an unnatural amount of focus. Unnatural for a conversation. In other words, I wouldn’t be able to focus that hard and be an active participant in a conversation. Refold’s advice on getting through this is simply to immerse more. And that’s what I plan on doing.

Lately I’ve been wondering how much of the language I’ve acquired. And how I would do if I tried to have a conversation with a language partner. I’ve tried language exchanges in the past, but my competence was way lower than what it is now. I’m also curious about how my experience compares to what’s described in Stage 3 of Refold. So, going forward my plan is to squeeze in some language exchange sessions into my language learning schedule. However, I’m not going to overdo it and limit it to a maximum of 2 hours per week.

June 2021


Language exchange.


I started the month with a new book, Бедные люди. I’m really enjoying it. Towards the end of the month, I also started the first Percy Jackson book in Russian for the Refold book club. I read some and then listened up to the 7th chapter. The book didn’t grip me. I think I would have liked it more if I’d read it without Бедные люди pulling me in its direction. So I might or might not finish it.

I also found a language partner. I’ve now had four 1-hour language exchange sessions. We speak Russian and English, switching between the languages at the half hour mark. I’ve found that while it takes a lot of effort forming sentences and thinking about what to say next, it has been a very enjoyable experience. My language partner is very kind and patient so that helps a lot. So far, I’ve been able to express whatever I’ve wanted to express. I do make a lot of mistakes though, mainly with cases and verb aspect. However, when they are pointed out, I almost always have an aha moment. This is quite reassuring. I will definitely continue doing this every week for as long as it’s mutually beneficial.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m just thinking over a conversation in my head, I feel like I’m fluent (in that conversation). Also, as soon as I finish the language exchange session, all the things that I wanted to say or could have said suddenly come to mind all at once. This leads me to believe that I just need more practice to build up my confidence when I speak the language.

On a side note, I haven’t been using Anki lately. I was never too into to begin with, but still I did use it for a quite a while. I really hope I can keep my reading up so it can act as a natural SRS and I never have to touch Anki again.

July 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

August 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

September 2021


Update video try-out.


I tried recording an update video towards the end of the month. It’s far from perfect (obviously), but I needed to do this to be real with myself about my level.

20 месяцев изучения русского языка погружением

October 2021


Trying to output more.


This month I recorded myself reading an article.

Читаю статью по-русски

November 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

December 2021


Nothing worth journaling happened this month. Kept on immersing.

January 2022


Big update, long overdue


I’ve been procrastinating writing a progress update, but I feel like typing it all out will help me make sense of all the jumbled thoughts I keep having about Russian. And it might be helpful to other learners out there.

I passed the 2 year mark of my Russian journey in December of last year. I don’t have many numbers though, since I only started tracking around November (screenshot in thread).

I’ll start with comprehension

I usually have level 5 or high level 4 comprehension for most of the content I immerse in. The bulk of that content is YouTube, followed by podcasts and Reddit. I’ve decided against forcing myself to read more books because it’s not exactly aligned with my goals as of now. So, pretty much all of my reading immersion comes from messages, Reddit, forums, blogs, etc. I do listen to audiobooks though, and I find them very enjoyable when I’m in the mood for them. Podcasts and audiobooks are my go to when driving.

Also, recently I’ve stopped doing passive immersion (except when I’m driving). I’ve found that I’m more ready and excited to do active immersion when I come to it fresh. And passive immersion was kind of messing with that, so I try to avoid it.

On to output

I’ve been having weekly chats (speaking) with my language partner. I look forward to them, and gradually getting to know someone is pretty motivating. Although there are weeks when we can’t talk and in such weeks I usually don’t output. I’ve also had three conversational sessions on iTalki and a few language exchange sessions with a different partner.

From my side, I’ve found that, while there are instances where I struggle, I can still have a conversation. I do make quite a few mistakes. Most of them are related to cases, verb aspect or verbs of motion. And most of them are performance mistakes, not competence mistakes. Honestly, I don’t really output frequently enough to notice patterns among these, but I try to add as many as I can to Anki just to prime my brain and be on the lookout when immersing.

As far as feedback from others goes, almost everyone has said that they’re able to understand me. I do still hear a lot of inconsistencies in my pronunciation and flow, but it’s good to know that people can understand me.

Side note, many a times when thinking, a random Russian word will pop up even though I’m not formulating my thoughts in Russian. I kind of wish it wouldn’t happen because it’s distracting when I’m trying to have a conversation in English.

Goals (kind of)

My goals have been in flux ever since I started. I’m still not 100% sure where to go with Russian.

So, for now, I’ll say that I want to become more confident outputting. This would include less pausing and searching for words, ironing out inconsistencies, and in general sounding natural enough, so my conversation partner feels comfortable.

In the process, it’d also be great to connect more with people online and IRL 🤞. This is easier said than done, since I’m naturally not a very talkative person, and it takes me a long time to actually be comfortable with somebody. I’m hoping to use output in Russian as a tool to get better at communication in general, which is always a good thing.

Going forward

I’m going to be changing my mindset when it comes to Russian. I’ve realized that I don’t have an end date with Russian. I can keep getting better as long as I keep practicing. For most of these 2 years, I was dedicating almost all of my free time to Russian. And while it was very rewarding, it certainly came at a cost, such as other hobbies. I’m no longer going to do that. Russian will still be a part of my daily life (honestly, it’s hard not to immerse), but it will be one thing among others.

И на этом всё. Погружайтесь, погружайтесь и погружайтесь)

February 2022


6 февраль

Вчера я смотрел видео «Неизвестный Ленин». Это видео переведено от английской версии (если я правильно помню, “Secret Lenin”)

Много нового узнал про Ленина, но как я читал на комментарий этого видео, неразумно верить любого произведения как единственный источник правды.

А на понимание, это видео было намного проще потому, что оно было дублирован.