18 October, 2019
Is there a better plan on a lazy rainy autumn evening in Russia than having some chill time at home while watching Netflix? There is! Watching Netflix and learning Russian at the same time! The use of films and TV series for language learning purposes is nothing new. But, the rapid growth of streaming video platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO has made access to this valuable form of language practice easier than ever before. You just need to type “Russian” on the browser of your streaming platform to gain access to hours and hours of Russian.

Benefits of watching fiction in Russian

Watching a TV series you like is a really fun way of improving your Russian skills. Nonetheless, this is not the only benefit you will find. While enjoying a TV series you will have the opportunity of getting used to all those sounds that might at first seem impossible to pronounce. Furthermore, it is a fantastic way of expanding your vocabulary. Not only will you find many of the words that you have learned during the lessons, fiction will also give you the opportunity of learning words and expressions that are not so commonly found in textbooks such as slang, specific words of certain knowledge areas (medicine, police, forensic…) and, quite likely, some swear words as well. All these language learning will also be accompanied by a better understanding of Russian manners, culture, and history.

What can I watch on Netflix right now?

Although the amount of Russian TV series and Films is quite limited on the platform, you might still find something that catches your eye. Here I offer you three different options that are currently available on Netflix which will help you learn Russian.

Better than us - Лучше, чем люди

Released in 2018, it’s Russias first Netflix Orginal. If you liked Ex Machina or the series Black Mirror you should give “Лучше, чем люди’’ a try. This sci-fi dystopia presents a world in which androids have different duties. Due to the shortage of women in China after the only one-child policy, a programmer designs an Android name Arisa who is programmed to be a wife and an adoptive mother without taking into account Asimov’s Three Laws of robotics. After the death of her creator, Arisa is sold to a Russian robotics firm. In this company, Arisa kills a man who tried to use her as a sex-bot, function for which she was not programmed, so she runs away. She encounters a girl named Sonia and made herself her guardian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSJKksEdQY4

Fartsa - Фарца

Originally released in 2015, this crime drama will get you closer to the Soviet world of the 60s. Although many details about daily life about that time in the Soviet Union are portrayed, the TV series focuses on a practice named «fartsovska». This term refers to illegal trading of all types of things (clothing, pieces of art, music...) that were commonplace at the time in which the series is set. The series makes us discover these practices together with the charismatic characters of the show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS88Hrote_k

The Method -Метод

It is considered to be a Russian version of the popular American series Dexter. In this crime series the main character is Rodion, a solitary police detective that hunts down all the criminals that were not punished by a justice system that does not always work properly.  A young graduate gets an internship and starts working with him and learning his unusual method. In spite of the great challenge that poses to work with Rodion, they will investigate together some of the cruellest crimes in Russia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eml_OKOmno

Learn Russian with Netflix Chrome extension

We all know that watching series and films will help learn Russian, but is not always easy to follow the plot without a bit of extra help. Netflix already offers the possibility of using subtitles which is a great help. For more experienced learners Russian subtitles seem to be a good option, but unfortunately, not all of us can follow them. Technology, as usual, might help us make our lives a bit easier. By Installing the Language Learning with Netflix extension you will be able to read two different sets of subtitles at the same time. The use of the functions of the extension is quite intuitive and, apart from enabling the possibility of having bilingual subtitles, it also has a search engine which will help you find all the titles available on Netflix on the language you want to learn. With the bilingual subtitles, you might be able to read the Russian ones and check the other set for clarification. Furthermore, it's really easy to stop to take notes and go back when needed. You just need to give this tool a try and find the way it adapts the best to you and your learning objectives. I hope you have found the information on this entry useful. And, remember,  a rainy day can be the perfect day to learn Russian with Netflix!
Miriam Núñez

Posted by Miriam Núñez

всем привет! I’m Miriam from Spain and I’m currently an intern at Liden&Denz in St. Petersburg.

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