Can we get graded readings in Russian?


Russian is one of the more difficult languages. So, I was surprised to see that with 1,000 known words, my beginner’s 1 level readings are around 80% new words.

This is advanced.

So, advanced, it is truly not helping me.

I might as well read books with no concern about understanding the text. I would learn faster that way, most books have a core word group of around 2,000 words.

By the time I would finish reading the Bible in Russian, I would learn much more than random lessons and few core words …

Thank you,


PS: I am willing to help develop the curriculum … but, my Russian is still bad.

Wayne, I can undestand your impatience, but don’t be so in hurry!
Russian is really such a difficult language, especially in the beginning, that when you be in hurry, you can refuse your interst to the language and spoil your study.
Just read and listen step by step - and in one day you can read quite difficult texts and also speak difgfernt topics.
If you yet would like right now more difficult texts like the Bible, you can read at the same time Russiabn and English versions and compare them, but also not too much in a go.
You can use my courses and lessons in the Russian library here in as well.
THey are distributed to differnt levels, I can name some of them here:
For the beginners 1&2: РУССКИЙ С НУЛЯ(Russian from zero), ПЕРВЫЕ ШАГИ(First steps), БАЗОВЫЕ МОДЕЛИ( Basic patterns), Простые тексты, Начинаем говорить по-русски
Low intermediate: Вопросы и ответы, Русские предлоги, Полезные диалоги, Телефонные разговоры, Анекдоты и шутки, Рассказы о России
Intermediare 1&2: Новый русский подкаст(разговоры со Стивом), Разговоры с Евгением, Летние зарисовки, Советы учителя, Русское произношение, День за днём(114 текстов о русских традициях, русских праздниках и русских проблемах!), О времени и о себе, Секреты русского языка, Практическая грамматика, Русские песни и романсы
Advanced 1&2: Страницы истории России, Русская культура, Пословицы и поговорки, Русские идиомы, Русский для продвинутых, 5 минут о политике, Лучшие русские стихи, А. Чехов Юмористические рассказы, Ф. Достоевский Скверный анекдот, А. Пушкин Стихи и роман Евгений Онегин.
Если что-то будет непонятно, всегда можете обращаться ко мне или прямо писать здесь на форум - я или другие русскоязычные вам ответят.
And by the way, 1000 known words - it’s only A2(Beginners 2) for all languages, not only for Russian!
For Intermediate you have to know 6000- 12000 words, and for adwanced - still more!
So you are only in the beginning of the way- enjoy you study, enjoy new words and don’t hurry!


Wow, Evgueny, you’ve created a tremendous number of lessons! We Russian learners really appreciate all the effort you put into LingQ!

THanks, Debbie! You and all Russian learners can try those courses that are more interesting for them.
Good luck and a bit patience - and everyone will be able to speak Russian gradually more fluently.
But I repeat and repeat: don’t hurry up, enjoy your every lesson and every new word!
Russian is not a language that could be had learnt in several months.
But Russian is a very beautiful and a rich language with the great literature and very intersting words.



Russian is the tenth language I have formally studied. And it is the most difficult, by far.

I know exactly what I need to learn. I need vocabulary, graded readings, and noun declensions. I need the readings to help with word acquisition and learning noun declensions. Graded readings will also help me understand how verbs are used in Russian.



PS - I can read through the Russian Bible and get more than I am from lingq. I have read the Greek New Testament several times, and I have read portions of the Bible in Japanese, Spanish, and Hebrew, as well as some French.

If I have to use brute force to learn a language, I can do that.

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I looked at your lesson “ПЕРВЫЕ ШАГИ (FIRST STEPS)”.

How is it with my recognition of around 1,000 Russian words, 53% of the words in your “FIRST STEPS” are new words?

Is that really level one for beginners?

According to Oxford UP bookworm reading skills program, “Les Misérables” has a 400 word vocabulary - 5,200 word count, reading level 1 - 10. Or, “A Tale of Two Cities” with 1,400 word count out of 16,000 and a grade 3 - 10 reading level.

So, why are the lessons here at such a higher level than “A Tale of Two Cities”? My words recognized (close to 1,100 words) should mean that I would know around 80% of the words in the book …

Reading “A Tale of Two Cities” should be an intermediate level … I need graded readings to reinforce my learning, not to be a brute force method of learning.

And why aren’t lessons here focused on known frequency lists?


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Wayne, when anyone doesn’t know anything - it would be 100% unknown words, but we start a new language and very often you will have only 10-15% of unknown words because I repeat a lot of words from the lesoon to the lesson in order to make remember them.
I’ve noticed that many students from the USA that come to our school have a very strange for me a choice of first words - they can say even some idioms and proverbs, but they can’t say anything about themselves, about their families, about their states and their towns - they also say that they’ve already known 1000 or more words in Russian, but they didn’t reach the survival level in my opinion!
I don’i insist you to learn my lessons. If you don’t like them - don’t learn!
Maybe you would like to read right away newspapers and fiction literature - it’s your business.
But I’ve been teaching the students from all over the world from Australia to Brasilia for 25 years and I have my own methods of teaching.
However, good luck with Russian!
Best regards,


You have taught the same class for 25 years. I got that.




“I’ve noticed that many students from the USA that come to our school have a very strange for me a choice of first words - they can say even some idioms and proverbs, but they can’t say anything about themselves, about their families, about their states and their towns - they also say that they’ve already known 1000 or more words in Russian, but they didn’t reach the survival level in my opinion!”

That is an intriguing observation. Would you say this is because these students are American, or is this something you see among all learners of Russian?

I have taken classes for four languages in the US (Chinese, French, Spanish, and Hebrew), and I can honestly say that those things you listed out are among the first things we learn.

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Sorry! Ignore this post. Just testing something…! :stuck_out_tongue:


I am sure that you are a successful language learner. You have studied ten languages, and no doubt speak and understand them well. However, not everyone learns the way you do.

I have learned to speak 11 foreign languages and I’m working on two more. One of the languages I have learned to speak and understand is Russian, which I started after the age of 60, here at LingQ.

I did not use graded readers and have no interest in them. For Russian I used the beginning material at LingQ, at a time when we did not have as much content in our library has now. I did not have the benefit of Evgueny’s wonderful lessons in my first few years of Russian study. Very quickly, after a few months, I moved to Tolstoy, in the original. LingQ made this possible for me. I am not saying that this is what you will want to do, just that it works for some people. In fact, I recommend that people move on to readings of interest as soon as possible. If that is the bible, then you should read the bible.

We count each form of a Russian word as a separate word here at LingQ and this tends to inflate the count somewhat. It is quite normal that there will be a high percentage of unknown words as you start out. You may have encountered one form of a word, but not others. According to my profile, my known word count for Russian here at LingQ is 80,000 or so, after about 6 years.

The wonderful library we have for Russian, varied subject matter, different levels of difficulty, is what we have. If you want something else, you will have to look for it elsewhere. Perhaps someone here can advise as to where you can find graded readers.

Information on declensions are available via a quick google search.


I hope so. Graded readers are very difficult to find in Russian. I have looked, and looked.

Tolstoy in the original Russian is not what I want to read, most of his language is very academic, I want to be able to talk with people on the streets …



Wayne, I happen to enjoy the world of Tolstoy and his language. I also read and listen to other material and have no difficulty talking to people on the streets. There is a vast wealth of Russian content on the web, and in our library. But there may be a lack of graded readers, I just don’t know. Good luck.

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Thank you for your wishes, however I would prefer graded readings over luck.

I am not a savant, you claim to be a savant. You know there is a huge difference between a savant picking up a language without ever memorizing and the rest of us who struggle and work hard at learning a new language.

I would think with all the advances in pedagogy, and linguistics that word frequency based readings would interest you? You just attended a conference on a related topic, so why attend a conference if this is all a waste of your time?

Why not bring the difficult top shelf information down to the bottom shelf for the rest of us?

Thank you again,


Every one has to work hard a learning a language. If we follow our interests and inclinations, we generally enjoy the process and do better, at least that has been my experience. To me, the interest of the content is much more important than word frequency counts. I gather you think differently. No problem.

I didn’t have the same class for 25 years.
The students are coming to us for 4-6 weeks, they are in different levels - from the absolute beginners to Intermediate 2, twice I had the students of the Advenced level C1, but only twice because I don’t think that the average native speaker possesse this level, mostly only B1-B2.
THat’s why I had to use always a special program to every student or every group.
Maybe, I don’t understand your innermost invocation “GRADED READING” - what do you mean???
For me ‘graded reading’ is reading that prepared for the certain level: A2, B1, B2, C1 - or for 1500 known words, 3000 or 4000 words, not more. Some of such books we can see sometimes in the bookshop, but it’s more important for me like also for Steve- the interesting content and not only the number of words.
I didn’t understand what are you interesrted in - culture, history, politics?..or just a colloquial language?..
You say that L. Tolstoy is for you to academic, but you are reading The Bible- and the language of The Bible is much more archaic than L.Tolstoy or A. Chekhov.
Of course, I had some very good students from the USA.
But it’s true that the students from the USA are more practical: if he\she gonna work in the Foreign Office, so he\she knows a lot of words in this area, but very little from the everyday life. But I thing and I wrote about it in my article about the language studying that you can find in the Russian, German or English libraries in Lingq (Важность создания основы; Warum ist es wichtig die Grundlage zu schaffen; The importance of creating a firm foundation) - i wrote that we at first must create the firm base of 500-700 everyday words and constructions before we can choose some specific field of our interest.
I see such a base by students that are from Germany or France, but not always by students from the UK and the USA. And often the fist 2 weeks I had to go back and create such a base to them and with them together.


I study. I study a lot.

the difference between your method and my method is rather obvious isn’t it? In this thread you tell us you can speak Russian on the street.

Ok, I have travelled by myself, purchased tickets, etc., with my Russian.

And I can talk with my barber …

It seems you struggle to talk with your barber, or so you recorded on your vblog … So, which is better for me?

I live in the FSU. I NEED to be able to converse better. Reading Tolstoy in the Russian might be nice in Canada, but I live in Odesa Raion.

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So, let me compare your Russian lessons to your Spanish lessons.

Spanish Advanced level readings had fewer unknown words (when I was at zero Spanish) than did the Russian intermediate readings (with 1,000 known words) …

I just read a rather interesting article about Atilla the Hun in Spanish. 50 or so unknown words out of around a thousand.

But, should intermediate Russian really be 80 new words out of 100?

C’mon Steve, let us make Russian easier. Let’s get it inline with your other languages as far as difficulty levels. And let’s work on a semi-graded reading approach.

I think that is why you struggle to talk with your barber - your core vocabulary has never focused. You do not have several hundred words that you know innately, even when sleeping, or scared. So, it is difficult for you to converse with your barber.

I have that innate language (skill) in Spanish, I know what a language feels like. And I am working hard to get my Russian to that level. Had I moved to Mexico instead of Russia, I would not need help. But, I moved to Ukraine, and my Russian is not so good …

Menya ruskii plox …

I need help.



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Yes, graded reading is about what you wrote to djvbass, “… we at first must create the firm base of 500-700 everyday words and constructions before we can choose some specific field of our interest.”

A firm base of 700 words would place most people into a solid conversational level in most languages. I am working hard to get to that level.

And yes, the Bible is difficult, that is why most of my reading is focused upon day to day language and not Bible reading. I do not want to un-balance my studies. That would take 3 times as long to get to where I want to be, and that is reasonable conversation.

Using a vocabulary frequency list makes it easy for beginning learners to get from start to conversation quickly.

Russian noun declensions, verbal pairs, animate and inanimate, and verbs of motion are different from other languages I have studies. Only declensions will give me long term difficulty. But, I am studying the others as well.

And I am studying (memorizing) my core vocabulary.



I feel your pain, since I brought this up before regarding a lack of upper intermediate material, and got essentially the same answers.

  1. I agree with you that the library doesn’t have enough material for a continuous graded reader approach
  2. Please ignore the “levels” on a lesson, and go instead by the number of unknown words per minute
  3. Although LingQ seems to be set up for graded reading, divided into different levels and such, they will not provide sufficient material to make it work. I guess we just have to live with it :slight_smile:
    Good luck man. I can suggest a minimum pain path for russian once you get to the lower intermediate level if you’d like.