The Duolingo Russian course: an exercise in WAT

Lately I’ve been experimenting with several self-study Russian courses, one of which is offered by Duolingo. The Duolingo Russian course has never failed to amuse me with its novel interface or its…choice examples. Look on.


I believe the term you’re looking for is “horse”.


Dang, Russia’s more cruel to its own people than I thought…


It came as a shock to everyone in my family, really.


Not much. I’m like Hillary Clinton’s Putin; I don’t have one. Getting a little nosy there, aren’t you, Duolingo?

And then the course started to get really dark…


That’s terrible! I know how you feel, Duolingo. I had a Border collie once, and loved him like a son –


Hopefully not right after the dog…Duolingo Russian, are you okay? Do you need someone to talk to? Support? Lots of alcohol?

These are 100% real examples from the Duolingo Russian course. And I’m not even halfway through with it. This should be fun.



  1. Wow, these are some gloomy examples. As far as I know, Duolingo courses are created by volunteers, and this course authors seem to have some dark thoughts! I have been playing with Eng-German course for some time, and it surely doesn’t have this kind of examples 0_0 there were some bizarre sentences like “My cat likes to read”, but nothing compared to what you shared 🙂

    J.T., if you are interested in self-study courses, there is also Memrise I haven’t used it that much, but I’ve seen recommendations from different people. Maybe you will find it useful.


    • Olga! It’s so nice to hear from you again. These examples are very gloomy, and it doesn’t really help that I’m currently in the “Body and Life” section of the course. I’m actually already using the Memrise system: to be exact, I’m working on the GSCE 2014-2015 course. I only wish they delved more into Russian grammar, but that’s what Duolingo is for. I wonder what the cat in your German example likes to read.
      Besides Russian and English, are there any other languages you know/want to learn?


      • Hey J.T., I have been trying to learn German for some time, but it’s hard. It’s more difficult than English, and due to the lack of practice and materials (German movies with subtitles are very rare), it’s been a very slow process. I think it also doesn’t help that I read a lot in English, and when I start reading books in German, my brain needs some time to re-adjust and switch the gears 🙂
        do you feel online courses are enough for learning Russian? I understand it is also rather hard to learn.


        • Yes, I’ve heard that Russian is very hard to learn too. But for some reason, I’m not struggling with Russian grammar in the way that I thought I would. Some concepts actually come easily to me, and I’ve had some instructors tell me that I sound like a native Russian speaker when I talk. I guess I have somewhat of a propensity for languages.
          To answer your question about the online courses, Olga – no, they are not. Like you, I often have trouble because of the lack of resources. There are only a handful of free Russian courses that are helpful – Russian For Everyone, Master Russian, Duolingo and the Pushkin Institute, to name a few. The rest cost money or don’t go into the more advanced levels of Russian. I am very lucky to be at a college that offers Russian classes. I also use self-study textbooks and grammar drill books. Together, these things work fine, but I still feel I’m missing something. Perhaps I should find some Russian movies with subtitles, or practice conversing with a native speaker…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Duolingo (I can’t stand Memrise). I use it to maintain my French and I’ve just begun using it to learn Gaelic because I’m reading Finnegans Wake. Gaelic is really, really *hard*. I’ve learned Indonesian and French to reasonable fluency, and enough tourist Italian and Spanish to chat in, and a smattering of Russian to get by with – but Gaelic is the hardest language I have ever come across.)
    I’m also using DL to revive the little Russian I had when on holiday. It’s going to be a long slow journey…
    As a matter of interest, how do you switch between English and Russian keyboards?

    Liked by 1 person

    • On Windows: Control Panel > Clock, Language, Region > ‘change keyboards or other input methods’ > Add > select ‘Russian (Russia)’. You only need to do this once. Afterwards, a small icon reading ‘RU’ or ‘ENG’ should appear on the right side of your taskbar. Clicking it will switch the keyboard.


Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.