to Russia with love
May 17, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Do you know any good videos for young children to learn a little Russian?

I'm taking my little boy to Russia. He's in first grade. I think it'd be fun for him to have a smattering of Russian under his belt, some fun and/or useful expressions to use when he's there. (Maybe asking for things, foods, hello my name is's, animals, silly stuff to say, etc...) He's familiar with a couple of words like спасибо and пажалуиста, but not well enough to use them unprompted/unhinted. Are there some good (and fun) videos he could watch with healthy doses of repetition, and maybe some sing-song-iness, to help burnish a little lingo into his beautiful brain?
posted by spbmp to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure that these are exactly what you're looking for, as they're not particularly educational in that sense, but they are so much fun and will get him comfortable with hearing the russian language. They were my favorite cartoons when I was little--youtube "Nu Pogodi" or "Bremenskie Muzykanty." Maybe you can mix those up with more educational videos. They're fun for adults to watch too!
posted by dysh at 8:22 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are some great "Nu Pogodi" links in this post.
posted by languagehat at 9:23 AM on May 17, 2012

Best answer: A friend of mine used to work on Slangman's World, a series designed specifically to use short, fun, sing-songy videos to help kids pick up words in foreign languages. (They aired it on the Armed Forces Network - lots of kids in foreign lands and all that).

Quick scan of the site reveals that they have at least one Russian video. May be other resources if you dig around.
posted by Naberius at 9:29 AM on May 17, 2012

There is very little actual conversation in Nu, Pogodi! Luckily, there are hundreds of other old Soviet cartoons (post-Soviet cartoons have increasingly turned to the west and look a lot like rejected latter-day Don Bluth features). There have also been a number of MeFi posts about them. Tons and tons. Everyone loves the Soviet Winny the Pooh, for example.

I would definitely preview the cartoons on YouTube before you have your kid watch them. For example, the Wolf in Nu, Pogodi! is a massive smoker (the Hare, on the other hand, is a model citizen — encourages healthy eating, participation in sports, civic engagement, and so on).
posted by Nomyte at 9:40 AM on May 17, 2012

Russian multiki are fantastic. Love Vinni Pukh and Karlsson - also this is an awesome cartoon: My Life
posted by gohabsgo at 12:10 PM on May 17, 2012

Response by poster: I'm going to show him that Slangman, for sure, but that'll be just one word---I'm sure he'll enjoy using it though. I don't think he's likely to pick up on many phrases from multiki, but maybe I'm wrong. They are wonderful, though.
posted by spbmp at 9:36 PM on May 17, 2012

In school we had to learn Russian songs (in Russian class) and we often listened to "Big Children's Choir" hits like this one: He might like them and if he starts humming them in Russia a lot of folks will smile and join in. In my experience little kids pick up song lyrics even if they have no idea what's they're saying.
posted by blue_bicycle at 4:27 AM on May 18, 2012

Oh, sorry about that. Remember my friend talking about all these different clips they were working on and didn't hang around the web site long enough to realize they've only got the one Russian episode up.

My friend isn't there anymore - I'm pretty sure if she was that web site would be a lot more useful. That was one of her things.
posted by Naberius at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012

And now, since I felt bad, I dug around through their publishing site to see what I could find. (Called Slangman, btw, because he started out not doing foreign language learning for kids, but publishing guidebooks for foreign businessmen explaining those weird English idioms their American associates would use.)

They do have some pretty handy stuff, but not in Russian, I'm afraid.

Especially like this fairy tale idea, where you have a storybook, plus a downloadable audio program, and as you read along, the first time you come upon a word they'll translate it, and then when that word reappears they'll use the foreign equivalent, so as you're going through it, the story sort of morphs from English into the target language. Neat idea, but only for Spanish and French right now. Russian is not exactly the low-hanging fruit of the foreign languages for kids market.

So now I just feel worse. I saw the question and was all like, ooh, I got this one! But in fact I haven't really been much help at all.

There seems to be a fair amount of crossover between MetaFilter and Reddit. Have you tried asking in r/languagelearning?
posted by Naberius at 8:30 AM on May 18, 2012

Response by poster: I found another possibility I thought I'd mention, although I'm not excited enough to buy it.

They have lots of languages, all with the same videos. I think my kid might find it a little bit fun (he also might like going through other languages like Chinese or Korean. The videos are exactly the same with the different words for different languages.) There's a sample video with hello and a few animal words, or it's $100 for a whole course.
posted by spbmp at 6:50 PM on May 27, 2012

I agree with dysh. when I was 5 years old, we had an english cartoon network channel (and I am Russian). I would sit days in front of the TV watching cartoons and listening to their speech. I think what happened was that somehow my subconscious mind absorbed English language and it really helped me improve my English later on. The good news about Russian cartoons is that they differ a lot from the cartoon network brainwashing garbage. luckily I was able to filter the messages from that channel and it did not affect me that much. But most of the Russian old cartoons are safe to watch. They are entertaining, have good messages and lessons in them. So, I think it is one of the tricks to get your child into the language environment. :)
posted by SummerSwe at 2:28 AM on June 4, 2012

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