Can we get graded readings in Russian?

And yet I can’t understand some Amerikans: What would you need?!
Have you tried my courses for the Upper Intermediate “День за днем” or “Страницы истории России” - are they too easy for you?
Or are you interested in different topics?
Then say - which topics… Maybe I will be able to write some podcasts with these topics.
My course for the beginners Русский с нуля(Rissian from zero) consists of 1000 words
My second course Первые шаги(First steps) has 1500 words
My course Простые тексты has about 2000 words
THey are in MY OPINION graded lessons.
What you and Wayne understand under ‘graded lessons’ I can’t realize.


It is not a question of Americans. Rather there are some misconceptions here which I will attempt to clarify for the benefit of people following this thread.


“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”

  1. Most of the lessons in our library for Russian, or any other of our 21 languages, are provided by our members, not by LingQ.
  2. If we take Russian as an example, there is a tremendous variety of content at all levels of difficulty. Our Russian library is rich, thanks to the efforts of Evgueny and others.
  3. The difficulty level is just a rough indication. Once we get past beginner texts, the difficulty of a lesson for a specific learner will, in my view, depend mostly on his or her interests, familiarity with the subject, vocabulary level, and the length of the lesson. People do need to refer to the Known Words number.
  4. “День за днем” or “Страницы истории России” are both excellent intermediate courses.
  5. As for upper-intermediate Russian texts at LingQ, there are lots. Echo Moskvi which we have permission to use, is an almost limitless source of audio and text on a variety of subjects. Newspapers in English are considered to be around the grade 7 level of difficulty, and I think these kind of interviews on current events are very much intermediate. The RussianLingQ podcasts are also intermediate. But there are lots more, lots!!
  6. An upper intermediate learner, should also be importing content of interest.

evgueny40, I have done some of your lessons, I can’t remember which ones. But if I remember correctly, the vast majority of your intermediate lessons have over 25% unknown words for me. Proving to me that I have some sort of deficiency, which seems to be your assumption here, doesn’t help my situation even if you succeed. I have done hundreds of lingQ lessons, speak the language fairly well, and am clearly in the intermediate realm. Yet when I search the library for lessons with less than 25% new words, only a handful are left, none of them yours.

What I’d like for graded reading - a series of lessons that are always under 25% new words; enough to get the learner to 20,000+ words (word families, not lingQ word count). I don’t mind it when I’m told that’s not the philosophy here, but I don’t like hearing that there is already graded reading continuum. One could check this by creating a new account, open 100 or so beginning lessons and select “I know them all”, then start selecting large lessons with less than 25% unknown words. You will be stopped after 200 or so lessons, with 15000 or so lingQ type words, and not be able to touch the majority of evgueny40’s lessons.

On a more personal note, no more America bashing please. Let’s respect each other.


  1. “It seems you struggle to talk with your barber,”

When I was totally focused on Czech, and suddenly had to switch to Russian with my Russian barber, I struggled. I felt at times as if I didn’t know which words were Czech and which were Russian. This is normal.

The conversation I have with my Russian barber does not revolve around a few hundred words. We discuss politics in the Ukraine, in Israel, in Canada, and he tells me Ukrainian jokes. This is a little different and more demanding than buying tickets at the train station.

When I had to make a presentation in Russian to a language conference in Moscow via Skype, even though I was traveling in Mexico, I spent a few weeks listening and reading in Russian and talking to our tutors here at LingQ. I did fine, and was the only foreign speaker to present in Russian.

If I lived in the Ukraine, surrounded by Russian, I would struggle much less, and probably be able to converse much better on a wide variety of subjects

  1. “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) …”

Spanish has about 50% words that are recognizable from English. Russian is not only written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but it has far fewer cognates.

You have been a member at LingQ since March 2012. Your LingQ statistics show slightly over 1000 known words in both Spanish and Russian. During the same period I have been studying Czech, Romanian and Korean. My Known words totals for these languages are roughly 80,000 20,000 and 15,000. You really are not using the LingQ system the way it was designed to be used.

I believe that if you use LingQ correctly, it is possible to study difficult texts and enjoy them. I usually vary difficult text with easy texts. The difficult text enable me to acquire new vocabulary quickly, and the easy texts give me fluency.

  1. “A firm base of 700 words would place most people into a solid conversational level in most languages.”

With such small vocabulary base, you’re very very limited as to what you can have conversations about. These statistics about how a few words account for most of any conversation are, in my view, misleading. “the”, “be”, “of”, “and”, and “a” account for 20% of English according to Steven Pinker. But you can’t say much with only those five words. In fact, the very common words occur so often that learning them is really not a problem, regardless of the difficulty of the text we are using.

So I suggest, Wayne, that you continue to enjoy your method of studying, but also consider that there are other approaches that work, such as how we do things here at LingQ.


The unknown words count for Russian will be somewhat inflated, since it includes inflected forms of words that you already know. That is how the system works. You and Wayne have your own preferred ways of learning. Go for it. However, it is pointless to complain that LingQ doesn’t conform to your own particular way of learning. LingQ is what it is, and I hope you are able to find some benefit in what it offers.

Have you studied the “День за днем” or “Страницы истории России” courses? Did you like them? Are you interested in them? If you have not studied them, why not go now and have a look to see how many unkown words there are, instead of vaguely referring to “lessons, I don’t remember which”.

Quite frankly, if the unknown words count for these lessons is 25%, then you just need to continue studying until the unknown words count for new lessons comes down to 15 and 10%, just like everybody else.

Actually, I love the USA, it’s a great country. I only desagree with some methods of language learning there. But of course not always, I had 7 years ago my best student from California, Berkly, that read freely our scientific magazins and we could discuss for hours with him about the politics and economy in Russian.
You speak that almost all my intermediate lessons here show more than 25% unknown words for you. But maybe you overestimated your knowledge and first you have to search among the lesoons for Beginners 2.
The bounds berween the levels are always very disputable: one teacher can say: This text is Upper intermediate, and another that it is only Low Intermediate.
Try for example my courses Простые тексты, Начинаем говорить по-русски and tiny Анекдоты и шутки with examples of Russian humour. Some of these lessons are Beginner 2 level, some of them can be Intermediate, but maybe they will consist less then 25% of unknown words for you.

“In fact, the very common words occur so often that learning them is really not a problem, regardless of the difficulty of the text we are using.” I just wanted to highlight this part of Steve’s post.

@evgueny “Actually, I love the USA, it’s a great country. I only desagree with some methods of language learning there.”
LOL. Oh man, I spit my wine out on the sentence. It’s almost possible to ask “What method of language learning?”

My experience in the USA – learn 4 years of French, learn absolutely nothing. I studied 4 years of French and made excellent grades every year and remember nothing. I mean nothing. When I think of French the only thing that comes to mind is “I’m French. Why do you think I have this outrrrrrrrageous accent, you silly king?” or maybe “now go away or I shall taunt a second time-muh”
(Hint hint, these are movie quotes)

Wow Kimo you really don’t know what a joke is? Do you think I gave a damn about learning French in high school? No

spatterson’s experience with French is similar to that of a majority of French learners in Canada’s English language school system. The only difference is that in Canada it is not 4 years, but often 10 years, and the results are the same, the inability to communicate.

Europeans don’t only speak English, but also are more likely to speak other languages. Obviously languages are more useful there. On the other hand it is quite in order to question the way languages are taught in North America, since the results are so minimal. I have always felt that more choice, and a greater emphasis on enjoying languages, understand them, accessing some aspects of culture through languages, rather speaking them, would be more sensible.

@Steve & evgueny40 - I’m saying that if someone does all the beginner lessons, and then just continues to do lessons of <25% unknown words, they will run out of lessons, even though lots of >25% lessons exist. Same with Chinese and Japanese. Whether you don’t understand this, don’t believe it, think that people need to just buckle down and do > 25% unknown word lessons or expect people to get material outside of LingQ is irrelevant. I know the holes exist, I know lingQ isn’t going to fill them, and I’m dealing with it. Just wanted to offer my support to the op, since I know what it feels like to be told that my level in inadequate, that I’m not using lingQ correctly, etc. Misery loves company:)

I understand that you are unsatisfied with
Maybe you just have another approach to the language studying.
But you sound proofless.
You make unsubstantiated statement at least about the Russian library!
THere are there not only my lessons, but if you have gone through all my lessons for beginners 1 and 2, you would not have had unknown lessons more that 25% in my low intermediate lessons.
But you haven’t gone through!!! (55 lessons of Русский с нуля > 107 lessons Первые шаги > 21 lessons Простые тексты> 31 lessons Начинаем говорить по-русски - and only after that go to more difficult Intermediate texts)
And the second point: WHY are you so afraid of more than 25% unknown words - it isn’t such a problem if you are a payable member and can do Links without limits - JUST MAKE LINKS - and you will know all these unknown words!!!
And it’s especially strange for me to hear such complains of the student who knows (or ptetends to know?..) so many languages!

Evgueny, in America we call that “stirring the pot” Is there an equivalent idiom in German?

If I understand the concern here correctly, the complaint is that there are not enough easy or “sheltered” lessons so that learners can sail along doing texts with less than 25% new words and thus stay within their comfort zone and watch their vocabulary grow until the most difficult texts have less than 25% new words. This is an unreasonable expectation.

There are more sheltered texts, with audio, in our Russian library, (and others) than in 10 Assimils, Teach Yourselfs, and other books and systems you can buy. At some point, however, you need to deal with the real language, the way the natives use it, normally. This means texts that have over 25% new words, whether from the LingQ library or imported. When we choose to start doing so is a personal decision, just like the decision on when to start speaking. In my case I prefer to move to authentic material as soon as I can.

This is no different than what happens when it comes to speaking. You can spend years speaking with a teacher using a limited vocabulary range, but at some point you need to get out into the real world. When you do you will be in an environment where there are more than 25% unknown words. These may be low frequency words, slang words, or , for that matter, very common words that you have not yet come across. This will happen whether you spend your listening and reading time on literature or beginner material. You will have trouble understanding even words that you know, and you will have trouble using them. But if you persevere you will improve.

Such is the nature of language learning.

Very good words, Steve!
True, I’m a bit cautious to go right away to the unlimited original texts.
That’s why I make my lessons in two types:
1.from the beginner to the Low intermediate I try to say the same more simple and with limited vocabulary.
2. From Intermediate and upper - without paying attention to the limit of the words because we all have to make this jump into a real language.
If you speak with a native speaker or you read the newspaper - you can’t ask them to use only these words that you know.

“If you speak with a native speaker or you read the newspaper - you can’t ask them to use only these words that you know.”


I might add that reading “Hugo, Maupassant and others” is not exactly a waste of time. I derived great enjoyment from reading Tolstoy, Ostrovsky, Kuprin and Turgenev etc. and listening to the audio books for these. This is part of the development of my Russian skills. The same for other languages. It need not be 19th century literature, but reading and listening to things of interest, even if they are difficult, is part of the goal of language learning, and a wonderful way to learn the language.

There are many “paths” one can take through the LingQ library. Because of that I am not surprised that at some point we may come to what seems to be a “gap” based on our lingQed words. I am sure that some of the providers, Eugeny for one, are trying to provide carefully sequenced material. If we took everything such a provider writes, we might not come upon that “gap” before we are ready for it. But, because of personal taste and circumstances, we probably don’t do that.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the overall LingQ library is not planned. (Again, I realize that some providers plan their individual contributions carefully.) It just “happens” based on what people want to add. That’s the way the library works. I’m just happy that we have the this vast, though slightly chaotic reservoir available! And at its best, it provides a way to come up with your own personalized “graded readers”.

Eugeny, I’m wondering if you would be willing to do some “embedded reading” style lessons. (This is what TPRS teachers call them.) I’m asking because the lessons might help to fill a perceived gap in the library. More importantly, however, is that I love studying this type of lesson. Basically what you do is take a somewhat advanced lesson that you have already written and write a simpler version. Then you take that new version and write a simpler version of that. You could even write a simpler version yet if you wanted. Of course, your students take them in order from easiest to hardest.

I write this kind of lesson all the time for my Spanish students and have lots of fun doing it. If you’re interested in samples, I could send you some in Spanish. Vera has also come up with something like this with her AnnasTagebuch although she has only two versions. I would like a step in between and have actually written a few for my own enjoyment.

Embedded readings are pretty effective from the learning end also. Although some people, Steve is probably one, would find them boring, I enjoy being the student and sliding right up the scale of difficulty. Along the way I have my anchors, those phrases I know solidly from the easier versions. I also have the fun of stumbling on new facts which are hung on those solid phrases. My students learn well with them too.

Edit - Maybe you (Eugeny) already have lessons like this and I haven’t found them. I should have asked that first!

Maybe I don’t understand exactly what do you mean, and you’d better send me some your Spanish examples.
Perhaps, it’s the developement of the same topic for different levels?..For example, ‘My family’ -for beginners, for Intermediate and for Advanced level? If I get through, I can try.
My method is ‘step by step’ method, involving with every new lesson in the course some new words and structures. THat’s why my first lessons of the same course are as a rule easier than the last lessons of the same course -although they all are embedded in one or two neighbour levels.
And a new course for a new level can use similar topics with more words, but mostly with the higher level I include new, more difficult topics - and finally I have some lessons for Intermediate 2 or advanced 1 where I don’t pay attention to the choice of words and structures because the students who really have such a high level don’t need these limits at all.

I’ve emailed you. By the way, I am just beginning Russian. My knowledge of Russian is still very, very limited so I haven’t coming anywhere near to being familiar with all the material available, even at the beginner level. Thanks for your lessons!

Here is a very short sample of what I mean. It’s short because the original version is copyrighted material (Mi propio auto by Lisa Ray Turner and Blaine Ray.)

Version 1
Hoy es el cumpleaños de Ben Sullivan. Quiere un auto. Ben Sullivan no tiene carro.

Version 2
Hoy es el cumpleaños de Ben Sullivan. Quiere un auto. Quiere su propio auto. Ben Sullivan no tiene carro.

Version 3
Hoy es el cumpleaños de Ben Sullivan. Tiene 17 años. Quiere un auto. Quiere su propio auto. Ben Sullivan no tiene carro. Quiere tener su propio auto.

Version 4 (Original version)
Hoy es el cumpleaños de Ben Sullivan. Tiene 17 años. Sabe lo que quiere por su cumpleaños. Quiere un auto. Quiere tener su propio auto. Ben Sullivan no tiene carro. Tiene muchas cosas pero no tiene su propio carro. Quiere tener su propio auto.

I made these into private lessons to show how this works but have no idea how to share them with friends. (I mean, I tried but it didn’t seem to work.)