Russian Resources: Russian TV



By: Anthony Davies

When learning a language, it's helpful to have a whole host of resources to hand to supplement and support your study. To that end, guest blogger Anthony Davies has assembled a series of posts around Russian resources. Here are some useful resources and links related to Russian TV - where, how, and what Russian television to watch. Enjoy!

Russian TV

Russia's 'Perviy Kanal' (Channel 1) offers programs on a plethora of subjects on demand. Past news broadcasts on a range of subjects - politics, society, culture, sport. A wide range of TV programmes and series can be watched at the time of broadcasting in Russia*. Some short adverts before viewing. Many series have Russian subtitles (click “включить субтитры“ in bottom right-hand corner of the video player). Great for Advanced Learners. May also be a suitable challenge for upper intermediate learners, practising listening to fast speech in news broadcasts.

*(3 hours ahead of UK GMT, 2 ahead of Western Europe, 8-11 ahead of USA)

Watch over 100 Russian channels on demand from your computer, mobile device, or television* anywhere in the world! Includes children's channels, news, sports, culture, cookery, nature, history, several film channels, and many more. See TV programme here:

Currently offers a free one-day trial, £14.50 /month for one month, or for a year, £12/m or a £135 one-off payment. Besides the standard package, an economy and premium package are under construction. Payment by Visa, MasterCard, may be possible by direct debit (to Germany).

*Hardware costing £25-30 required for watching on your television.

Website is ENTIRELY in Russian.

London showroom near St James Park to see how it works.

Children's channels suitable for Beginner/Intermediate, Advanced for the rest!


Кухня (Kuchnya) — Very popular among learners of Russian, very accessible, although intermediate learners may not know all vocab. Speech is native-speed, or at times near-native. Vocabulary topics covered include restaurant, relationships.


The story of an ice hockey team's ups and downs, new coach, romantic encounters and friendship difficulties. Moderate to fast speech, clearly spoken, moderately complex grammar. Vocabulary covers topics such as ice hockey, sport, teamwork, home life, romance. Gives a good idea of what a home environment, streets, railway stations, etc, in Russia look like. 50-minute episodes.


Students enjoy the last decade of the Soviet Union. Vanya, who lives at home with his family, can't get enough of spending time in student halls, where he meets an attractive young lady and spots opportunities to impress her. Fairly fast speech, fairly straightforward grammar. 25-minute episodes, good for those without a whole hour to spend watching.


Very dry humour in short 1- or 2-minute dialogues as four naïve trainee doctors are put through their paces by the inconsiderate head consultant. Clear speech, at a natural speed. In true Russian style, some occasional slapstick moments. 25-minute episodes. Please be aware that this show contains nudity and is only suitable to adult audiences.

Other popular Russian sitcoms:

  • Физрук
  • Реальные пацаны
  • Ёлки
  • Диверсант (World War II)
]]> What does it mean to speak like a native? Fri, 15 Apr 2016 08:40:00 +0000 Becca Inglis Becca Inglis This week's guest blogger is Becca Inglis. Becca is a freelance writer, arts marketer, and activist based in Edinburgh. She currently tweets about freedom of expression for Scottish PEN and manages the online literary dictionary Big Words. A lover of long words and people's stories, Becca likes...


Becca InglisThis week's guest blogger is Becca Inglis. Becca is a freelance writer, arts marketer, and activist based in Edinburgh. She currently tweets about freedom of expression for Scottish PEN and manages the online literary dictionary Big Words. A lover of long words and people's stories, Becca likes to talk about contemporary fiction, social justice, and Scottish theatre. Previous credits include Lunar Poetry and Hollaback! Edinburgh.


Oh! to be able to speak German like a native. What a thing it would be to showcase the clipped precision of a true German-speaker. That is the key threshold of any second-language learner. To hold a delectable menu of vocabulary in one's head, to be able to sound out each phoneme with flawless accuracy, to use your past participles in all the right places so you sound “just like a native”. That is what most of us call fluency, that level of linguistic prowess where you sound like you were born and raised in your second country of choice.

There is a problem with this view of fluency. It implies that native speakers speak impeccable versions of their mother language. They go through school and reach an age where they no longer stutter or have to sound out the syllables. If you think about your own experience with your first language, you will know that this is not strictly true. It is of course impossible to know every single word of your own language. As you grow and develop, so will the situations that you find yourself in and the types of vocabulary that are demanded of you. Newness demands that you begin to learn again.

I recently started a course in Digital Marketing, which is a pretty large departure from my usual area of expertise. Suddenly I had to learn what metrics were, and figure out what on earth “KPI” stood for. I had heard before about the difference between qualitative and quantitative data, but what that difference was I had not begun to fathom. Paul Lennon argues that “Native speakers clearly differ among themselves in fluency, and, more particularly, any individual native speaker may be more or less fluent according to topic” (1990). As an English Literature graduate I consider myself to have a pretty wide vocabulary, but when I threw myself into a new industry my confidence in my native language decreased. I was not fluent in the specialised jargon of the market.

A word for this grouping of languages is “lexicon”. When I have talked about a “lexicon” before I have called it “a collection of words that tend to be used by a language, a group of people, or even one person”. A lexicon can be a language in the traditional sense, like Spanish or Japanese, or it can be technical jargon specific to a certain profession. In this sense, national languages and professional terminology are placed on a level playing field. You can be a native speaker of English, but a stranger to the Engineering community.

For this reason Sandra Götz has remarked “[i]t seems very tempting to neglect the idea of a native speaker as being a myth altogether” (2013). How can native speakers be fluent in their mother language when they are constantly shifting into new lexical groups? Perhaps fluency is more dynamic, more transient than we thought. We can be fluent in our native language for a time, but then we encounter a new field and have to start all over again.

This is the real condition of language. It is constantly changing, with people making up new words and having them fall into popular currency all the time. Arguably our new technological age has accelerated this. With each new piece of technology comes a new word or a new meaning to add to an existing one. “Twitter”, “like”, and “LOL” are all household names that have transitioned from improper slang to official dictionary terms. Native speakers cannot get comfortable in their own mother tongue, because tomorrow social media will deliver another mystifying word (the latest for me being “on fleek”).

Speaking like a native, then, is less a display of expertise than of educated trial and error. Avid book readers will often testify to having an enormous vocabulary but only being able to pronounce a set number of those words. I have heard of this phenomenon being called “calliope syndrome” (Halsted, 2009), or speaking “booklish”. The more you read the more words you pick up, but you never hear them said aloud and so you do not learn them properly. Even more so if, like me, you are a persistent skim reader. People are told that to read more books they must drop the habit of subvocalization, where you sound out the words you read on paper in your head. Try instead to recognise the characters on the page without imagining the sounds they make. In these cases even phonetic “booklish” attempts at pronunciation are dropped. I know several people who instead have a unique noise they play in their head when they read those words that they haven't yet learnt to say.

There are many times when I go to say these new words aloud and I have not looked up their specific meaning. Rather I have seen them repeatedly used in specific contexts and paired with certain expressions. I might even have guessed a little about their etymology, and assumed their meaning from that. In spite of this incomplete knowledge I say each word with confidence. For blogger Alex Rawlings this is a sign of fluency. He differentiates between “expertise” and “fluency”, which is the difference between flawless vocabulary and grammar use and a speaker who does not hesitate when speaking. According to this definition you can still be fluent whilst also not knowing many words, using them incorrectly, or even being illiterate.

This is a more playful approach to language. You can abuse your native language for your own ends. Use puns, add new meanings, use the grammar structures you already know to guess your way through an endless resource of vocabulary. Native speakers never really stop learning their own language, and I'll vouch that many spend half their time waiting to be corrected by someone for their odd choice of words or slightly off pronunciation. Learning to be fluent like a native is not about seeking perfection, but rather opening the door to an endless learning experience.


Sandra Götz. Fluency in Native and Nonnative English Speech. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2013.

Judith Wynn Halsted. Some of My Best Friends are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Preschool to High School. 3rd ed. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, 2009.

Paul Lennon. “Investigating Fluency in EFL: A Quantitative Approach.” Language Learning, 40: 387-417. 1990.


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