April 18, 2022

Myths about listening skills

You know that understanding natives when they’re talking - directly with you or when you hear them in the movies - is a very big challenge.

How can you finally start understanding spoken Russian?

Here is some very common advice you can hear and the hard truth about it.

Common advice : Just listen to a lot of interesting videos on different topics, learn vocabulary from them and eventually you will (somehow) be able to understand spoken language.

The truth:

YES, interesting content is indeed important

  • for your motivation (to continue studying)
  • and for memorization (we memorize words much better in a context than as lists or individually).

NO - this interesting content won’t do you any good if the topics change every time you watch or listen. Don’t fool yourself: you won’t be able to develop your listening skills that way.

And here is why.

When you jump from one topic to the other, you make it very hard on your brain.

Every time when you listen to spoken Russian, your brain works very hard to process several things:

  1. It tries to recognize the words it already knows by comparing the spoken words it hears with the written ones it knows (and Russian pronunciation can make those two things very different)
  2. It tries to figure out the words it can’t recognize from context and from your life experience and Russian grammar knowledge.

Both tasks are very challenging. The first one is easily trainable actually.

But how hard the second task can be, depends on how many words you already know about the topic you are listening to.

Do you know that when natives talk about each topic, they use roughly around 500 words? Yes, that many.

  • Some of those words are topic specific - they are used to describe details and nuances of this topic,
  • The other words are more general - they are used in different topics,
  • The third ones are colloquial - they are used when Russians talk about this specific topic (or different ones) casually, informally.

So, if you don't know most of these “500 words” you need for understanding a specific topic, when you listen to something authentic (not simplified for foreigners) about it, three things happen:

  • You don’t have much chance to understand it (unless you stay in a “word–by-word” translation trap),
  • You never develop confidence with it (it’s impossible if you deal with something new every time),
  • You don’t give your brain much of a chance to develop listening skills (it constantly has to deal with a lot of stress trying to understand challenging and always new content and little or no progress).

Do you see now why you can’t get your listening under control, in spite of spending a good amount of time working on it?

Because each and every time you jump through random topics when trying to listen to something in Russian, it sounds too challenging.

So your initial motivation turns into frustration after some time:

  • You put your efforts and valuable time in listening to a lot of authentic materials.
  • You do it for months and years but still can’t understand Russian speakers. Pretty much about any topic.


So, here is one of the principles for developing listening skills:

  • You need to spend a certain amount of time ON THE SAME TOPIC so you can learn “close-to-native” vocabulary on it.


Now the question is - how much that certain amount of time should be to be enough.

It could actually vary a lot.The difference could be very considerable.

  • If all the heavy lifting is done for you by a study program, it may be just 10-12 professionally created podcasts on the same topic, you can study in 2 weeks,
  • If you try to find a good amount of content on the same topic yourself, it can be months or years. And only if you understand what needs to be done.

If you want to go the first way, I have a solution for you.

In my Conversational Russian METRO Club all the heavy listening is already done for you so you can just study 30-45 min. a day and notice like your listening and speaking skills consistently grow.


It is a unique program for Intermediate learners of Russian that focuses on

  • Specifically developing listening and speaking skills

  • Using modern interactive tools to help you memorize over 500 words for 12 everyday topics.

In fact, there is nothing comparable on the market.

Let me tell you what I mean by “heavy lifting done for you” in METRO Club.

That’s what I do for each of 12 everyday topics:

  • Make a list of 3-4 subtopics of each topic (i.e. aspects of the topic Russians discuss),

  • Make a list of the words Russians use to talk about each subtopic,

  • Break each subtopic into several parts so each of them can be described in a short text,

  • Write 10-12 short texts about each topic with the pre-selected vocabulary (40-50 practical words in each text). Making sure they are interesting and engaging while sound natural and authentic.

  • Record audio of these texts,

  • Make a full vocabulary breakdown for the new words,

  • Create exercises to help memorizing new words and grammar structures

And that's not all!

It’s just part of what we do for you in our METRO Club.

The result?

When you’re done working with 10-12 podcasts on each topic,

  • You’ve memorized around 500 very practical words for this topic - without even noticing how you did it. Just by doing simple steps.

  • You feel very confident next time you listen to anything about this topic and are fully ready to talk about it with native speakers.

Repeat the same process with 11 other everyday topics, and your ability to talk in Russian about daily life will change dramatically.

We don’t fool you by giving you a bunch of interesting videos on random topics.

Instead of that, do all the heavy lifting for you so you can bring your listening and speaking skills to the level where you can confidently talk about daily life in Russian.

Right now you can try our METRO Club and see how everything I said works for you.

Sign up today to try the METRO Club FREE for 1 week and get the first lesson at no charge

It is risk-free.

If you don’t like it, you can stop it any time within two weeks and not pay for anything. And you can still keep all the materials you received.

If you are ready to give it a try, click the BUTTON below to read more about other powerful tools I have for you in my METRO Club and start learning today.