Dating Russian Resources (a review)

I’m planning on doing a video on the best and worst of Russian resources, as I’ve been ‘around the block’ with many of them. Many of them have been limited to one-night stands, while there are a couple of gems I’m trying to coerce into marriage (as ever, I’ve pushed the metaphor too far, but I’m going to continue with it). As there’s only so much that can be said in a video, I thought I’d start summarise here with paper resources (although many I only have in PDF form).


Oh Ruslan. The high school boyfriend everyone looks back on and is embarrassed by. So many questions: why did we have to talk about Ivan and Luydimila all the time? Why do you keep suggesting that Ivan isn’t actually a businessman? Why do you want to make me learn cursive? Why are all your pictures so Soviet? Why do you break into song about suitcases at the end of every day?
Ruslan was not a great introduction to the Russian dating world. I do not recommend as the first resource. While there’s a lot of dialogues that you can listen to with recordings, and also an encouragement on practising all your skills, it is incredibly uninspiring and I do not recommend it. It’s designed for a very old-fashioned classroom, and would not be found on Tinder.
Date rating: 1.5/5

Russian Grammar You Really Need to Know (Teach Yourself)

This is definitely the bootycall book. Whenever everyone else is busy, I call back to it at 2am, but it’s not enough to sustain me alone.
Everything is clearly explained, but it’s not designed to be a primary partner.
Date rating: 4/5

Russian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook (Teach Yourself)

This book is the equivalent to starting the date by asking for my hand in marriage while talking about the ex too much. It can’t quite decide whether it wants to guide you or leave you to run after it.
I recommend it only for an experienced learner, unlike the other books in the Tutor series (Swedish Tutor is incredibly friendly and I fell for it instantly). However, it does feature a lot of exercises and some adequate explanations.
Date rating: 3/5

Beginners’ Russian (Penguin)

My newest love, featuring the world’s sexiest index. A really good balance between vocabulary and grammar, and works through at a good pace.
However, this book is ugly. You do not want to wake up next to it. Your friends will make fun of you for it. Some expressions will be hard to read because of this.
Needs to be taken shopping and given a nice suit.
Date rating: 4/5

Teach Yourself Complete Russian (Teach Yourself)

More or less a prettier version of the Ruslan books (I know comparison is the thief of joy, but we all sit round with our friends and talk about our exes, don’t we? …don’t we?) Very uninspiring content, and badly structured, but with good explanations.
I’m sure he’ll make a good father one day, but it’s a little too safe and dull for me right now. Also everything is grey. Oppressively grey. I felt like I was in the mind of a dog after a little while, and not a cute puppy that was excited by the world.
Date rating: 2.5/5

BBC Talk Russian (BBC)

This may be the prettiest book of all, but it is definitely the most superficial and has an uncomfortable number of mistakes. (Здразвствyй as an informal hi? Maybe if you’re the prince in Snow White.)
Definitely the one you date ‘for something different’ after Ruslan. Bad idea, although it will look nice in pictures if you want to torture yourself over that skiing holiday you broke up at the end of.
Date rating: 1/5

Colloquial Russian (Routledge)

Hello, 1960s. Don’t get me wrong — I like an older man, but this one needs to be brought forward half a century. It suffers from the worst parts of Ruslan and the Penguin Beginner’s book.
You tried, I know. We’re just not meant to be. Also too many mistakes to feel comfortable with. You will be called ‘boring Pavel’ among my friends, I’m afraid.
Date rating: 1/5

Russian Short Stories for Beginners

Something modern and not too flashy. You can’t fully commit, and you need back up because this book still forces you to be independent, but there’s enough range to grow together and it’s pretty but not too pretty.
I fell for this book big time (well done, Alex Rawlings).
Date rating: 4/5


So. If I could roll the Russian Short stories, the Penguin book and the Teach Yourself grammar book into one resource, it would be the world’s sexiest thing (the closest thing at the moment for me is Babbel).

Sorry if the dating metaphor made you uncomfortable.

I hope you’re having a good week,


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