Everbrite's Russia, Belarus and Ukraine Pages

Belarus Info

Russia General Info

Russian Consulate Information:
A to F
G to J
K to South Africa
Spain to Z

Obtaining a Russian Visa

Money and Other Tips

Tidbits for Tourists:
A to I
K to Z

Rulers of Russia:
From the Beginning to the Time of Troubles
From the Romanovs to Revolution
From Soviet Times to the present

Russia Regional Information:
Irkutsk/Lake Baikal

Moscow Metro Tour

Central Moscow Tour- in four parts with map:
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Pushkin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Pushkinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back

Travel in Russia planes, trains and automobiles

Trans-Siberian Trains
Trans-Siberian Trains general information to get you started on your journey
Trans-Siberian Stops information about common stops along the way
Notes about Chinese Consulates some informataion about Chinese consulates

Russian Language
The Alphabet
Books, Tapes and other Resources
Basic Words

Ukraine Info


Russian Language

Books, Tapes and Other Resources

Page Contents
Beginner Learning Materials
Russian Conversation and Phrase Books
Wordless Alternatives
Russian English Russian Dictionaries
Web Based Translation Sites

NOTE: All the links for books mentioned on this page are to the Amazon site in the United States.

Beginner Learning Materials 

Learn Russian

Very Basic Materials: There are several books that teach the basics of Russian Language for beginners that don't take too much time and energy and will at least familiarize one with the rudiments of the language. None of these are perfect and a combination of several is probably best.

One of the flaws of most really simple Russian teaching tools is the absence of accent marks to indicate which syllable is stressed. This is extremely important in learning to speak Russian. If you can find copies of the following three books used or in the library, you might find them useful.

Possibly one of the most basic and the easiest for the traveler to start with is Thomas Beyer's Learn Russian: The Fast and Fun Way. There are audiocassettes that can be purchased with this book, but some people may find them frustrating as they don't give you much time to think about your response. Although there are no accent marks on the Russian, the transliterations do indicate which syllable is stressed.

Russian in 10 minutes a day Another basic book that teaches Russian for beginners is Kristine Kershul et al.'s Russian in 10 minutes a Day. This book, with its stickers, flashcards and associated language map, might be more useful if either the transliterations or the Russian indicated which vowel is stressed.
Russian Step by Step
A new addition to this genre of Russian for the uninitiated is Reading Russian Workbook: Russian Step By Step Total Beginner. There is an companion audio CD to coordinate but it costs additional. With only six lessons, its goal is acquaint learners with the Cyrillic alphabet and very basic vocabulary for street signs, maps and menus. This is the first of a series which currently includes two additional volumes for self study.

More for Self Study: If you really want to learn the language, not just enough to use when traveling, or you suddenly feel the need to brush up on forgotten skills, then there are a number of books that can serve this purpose quite well. One of the most highly recommended book/audio combinations is Nick Ukiah's Take Off in Russian: More Audio Than Any Comparable Course: The Easiest Way to Learn Russian. This combination of workbook and either cassettes or CDs consistently gets tops marks from reviewers. The audio portion offers almost five hours of listening materials. The fourteen units all contain: dialogues and activities, pronunciation practice, detailed grammatical help, cultural information and reading practice, test and revision sections, language learning techniques.

Another book and audio combination, which gets good reviews from readers, is Svetlana Le Fleming's Colloquial Russian: The Complete Course for Beginners. Two sixty-minute cassettes are included to supplement the book, which offers a great beginning with clear explanations of the grammar points. I once used this book in an adult education class and thought it quite good. Its one shortcoming might be the small number of exercises included. Personally, I need more repetition than it offered. Recently a second volume was published which continues the same format but includes more grammar review and more vocabulary.

The old standby and a perennial favorite is Nicholas Brown's The New Penguin Russian Course. It covers all the major grammar points with clear explanations. There are readings and some exercises, but one major shortcoming is the lack of audio materials to compliment the written text.

A relative newcomer to the field of Russian self study is Everything Learning Russian Book with CD: Speak, write, and understand Russian in no time! by Julia Stakhnevich. As with other self study books, one of the major complaints is that there are not enough exercises to practice what is being taught.

For those looking for additional grammar exercises and clarification of fine points of grammar, Schaum's Outline of Russian Grammar, Second Edition by James Levine might be the perfect addition to their library. Each point of grammar and structure is explained simply, and illustrated with examples plus there are plenty of exercises with answers.

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Russian Conversation and Phrase Books 

LP Russian phrasebook

Many travelers will find that this type of book will be all they need in addition to learning the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet.

The Lonely Planet Russian Phrasebook: With Two-Way Dictionary gets top marks from reviewers. The current edition was last updated in 2009. This bidirectional dictionary and phrase book features real conversations with colloquial expressions including a section on 'bad' language and another about dating. There is a very clear pronunciation guide with phonetic transcriptions to help communication and location maps to illustrate exactly which areas are covered. The additional tidbits and tips about life and customs are also useful. Its pocket size is considered an advantage by many, but the small size of the print does receive occasional complaints.

Berlitz Russian phrasebook

Berlitz Russian Phrase Book by Berlitz who probably sell more phrase books and language materials than other companies. This particular book was recently redesigned in 2008 and now includes a CD. The book contains practical up-to-date words and phrases, useful travel tips, an easy-to-read pronunciation guide, and color coded organization of topics for easy reference. Each section includes essentials at the beginning with the basic vocabulary for that unit. Individual topics include basic expressions and accommodations, eating out, travel, sightseeing, stores and services, health, a bilingual dictionary, and a reference section. Its downfall in my opinion is that it is not really pocket-sized as the book is about the same size as the CD.

Russian Lanugage Map

Essential Russian Phrase Book by Periplus Phrase Books was first published in 2000. It contains the essential information needed by first-time and experienced travelers alike, presented in a way that's concise, accessible, and easy to understand. This guide features over 4,000 words and phrases and is divided into 15 sections, covering all subjects that people are likely to encounter in their travels, from reserving a room for the night or ordering dinner at a restaurant to what to do when the rental car breaks down or how to change a flight. There is also a detailed phonetic pronunciation table, plus an extensive word list and grammar guide that will enable travelers to construct basic sentences. While it might get good reviews, its size is awkward as its dimensions are not nearly as small as the Berlitz or Lonely Planet books.

Russian Language Map by the same folks who designed "Russian in 10 minutes a day" is an excellent, lightweight alternative for folks for aren't looking for something extensive. The laminated, fold-up, map-like format is convenient, durable, and a easy to use. It includes hundreds of essential words and phrases divided into easy categories like "Meeting People," "Dining Out," and "Transportation." Words and Phrases are in English, in Russian and in transliterated English.

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Wordless Alternatives 

Traveling to several different countries where you don't speak the language? Worried about having to carry several different dictionaries or phrasebooks? You might be interested in these alternatives which are picture books that you can point to instead of trying to play charades or draw pictures. Try the following (listed alphabetically):

Kwikpoint International Travel Translator is a laminated Visual Language Translator that lets you communicate by pointing at pictures. This link is for a passport-sized edition which is just one of several different formats, safety, medical, brochure style, wallet-sized. Plus a pdf version is available for free from their website: Kwikpoint

Point It is now in its sixteenth edition. With 1300 photos, it covers just about everything that travelers might need to communicate.

Wordless Travel is cartoon pictures instead of photos and doesn't cover quite as many topics.

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Russian English Russian Dictionaries 

Desk use dictionaries: There are tons of these and often each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Personally I use Kenneth Katzner's English-Russian, Russian-English Dictionary. I really like the American English spellings and idioms but must admit that the binding isn't very good. Even though I covered mine in paper and used cardboard for support, it started to break in two. Now I have an English-Russian volume and a separately bound Russian-English volume.

As an American English speaker, I find this more useful than the equally popular and well thought of Mass Market Paperback Oxford Russian Dictionary: Russian-English English-Russian by Della Thompson. Note that this is not the same book as the Hardcover Oxford Russian Dictionary: Russian-English English-Russian edited by Marcus Wheeler and others, which gets less praise from reviewers. One other dictionary that should be considered is the Penguin Russian Dictionary compiled by W. F. Ryan. Its more than 140,000 entries and derivatives cover the whole range of the written and spoken language, including literary words, slang, and technical terminology.

Pocket Dictionaries: This type of dictionary is better for students of the language or those who already have some knowledge of the language. Most travelers would probably be much happier with the conversation and phrase books mentioned above. Personally, I use an older version of the Collins Gem Russian Dictionary. I haven't seen the new one, but the plastic binding of mine has held up nicely and it's very compact. The latest version was released in 2003 (mine is from 1993) and its dimensions are bigger, more on the order of a postcard, not palm-sized.

Another popular compact dictionary is the Random House Webster's Pocket Russian Dictionary by Irmhild C. Sperrle. This book is about the same size as a large postcard. Like all pocket dictionaries its definitions are short and limited but there are over 40,000 entries. The Oxford Pocket Russian-English English-Russian Dictionary isn't really pocket sized and its binding reportedly doesn't hold up well. The Langenscheidt's Pocket Dictionary (Russian-English / English-Russian) is reasonably complete although probably geared more to the beginner student of Russian language. It is a bit larger than a standard photograph and thus bigger than the Collins Gem but it is thinner. It also has a plastic cover.

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Web Based Translation Sites 

Today there are numerous online translators. One of the easiest is provided by Google at Another is offered using the Chrome browser. Yahoo offers their own translation at Both let you translate entire web pages, which is often useful for travelers.

It should be noted that none of these are perfect. In fact, without some knowledge of the other language, these are pretty much worthless some of the time. I suggest looking at more than one to get a better idea of the translation of large portions of text or websites. As an alternative or supplement, I especially like Promt's OnLine Translator.

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last revised 18 September 2011 © 2003-2011 Ruth E. Imershein
The information contained on these pages is intended to assist in making travel plans but things change, mistakes can be made.
Please do not depend entirely on this information when making your decisions.

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