Going to World Cup in Russia Without Russian? Read This

I remember my friend observing during the Olympics in Russia:

“God help the Olympics visitor who doesn’t speak Russian. Airports = real chaos. Worst I’ve seen in five years living here.”

Communication in Russia can be very challenging if you don’t have any Russian. If you are going to work in a big international company there, it is likely that some of your colleagues will speak good English. But if you are going as a tourist, don’t expect people on the streets to speak much russian. Bus and taxi drivers, waiters, bank tellers – in other words, the people you tend to ask for help and information – don’t usually speak fluent English.

So we decided to launch a Street Smart Russian course specifically aimed at football fans travelling to Russia this summer.

We offer a program that will give you survival – or instrumental — Russian. In this program you will learn:

  • Greetings and Farewells.
  • Introducing Yourself
  • Expressions of Courtesy
  • Numbers
  • Russian Currency
  • Asking for Directions
  • Getting Around
  • Basic Health Concerns
  • Russian Menu Customized to Your Palate
  • Russian Food You Should Try
  • Useful Phrases for various situations.
  • + Customize your package to your attend to your needs

The program is customizable to attend to your goals. Already know basic Russian? Use your class time to practice through mock conversations, add vocabulary, get cultural tips, and improve your speaking and listening. This will allow you to better understand people in Russia and vice-versa.

We offer this program through one-on-one lessons via Skype. We also offer it to groups of 2 or 3 learners via Google Hangouts, offering you the convenience and flexibility your busy schedule requires.

Book a trial lesson to test-drive our classes



КЕФИР an ancient drink from Caucasus

If you visited a Wholefoods branch recently or any Eastern European shop you might have noticed kefir. This ancient drink was brought to Russia from the Caucasus region and very quickly became a firm favourite

It always amuses me how ancient recipes and food staples from around the world suddenly come into fashion in our Western hemisphere and are actively promoted as the new remedy to all health evils. Kefir is definitely in this category. And I am happy to see that this drink packed with nutrients is finally getting a recognition it deserves.

On empty stomach
Kefir aids digestion and improves metabolism

A glass of the drink contains 10g of protein, which is 1:10 of RDA for men and 1:7 for women. Kefir is recommended as part of protein diet, and thus is a great idea for breakfast. It literally ‘inhabits’ your stomach with healthy bacteria and gets your body ready for the day ahead!

Try kefir smoothie or these easy kefir pancakes – ОЛАДЬИ- for breakfast!

Before going to bed

Improves the function of the digestive tract

Kefor contains millions of bacteria which grow and ‘kick out’ harmful bacteria, helping with indigestion, bloating and constipation.

Trying to avoid eating before bed? A glass of kefir will fill you up , but won’t add too many calories (59ccal per 100g)!

Excellent source of calcium

A glass of 3.2% fat kefir contains half the daily amount of calcium and phosphorus, which are indispensable for healthy teeth, bones and nails. However, Calcium is successfully absorbed only in the presence of vitamin D, phosphorus and fats. That’s why it is advisable to drink kefir which contains over 2.5% fat.

Calcium is better absorbed at night time.

Prevents dehydration and swelling

Kefir tops the list of drinks excellent for quenching thirst thanks to its slightly sour taste, and the minerals it contains help to retain the liquid. At the same time, unlike mineral water it doesn’t retain excess water in the body. It also helps knock down swelling.

It is also a go-to recipe for relieving bee sting swelling and pain.

Lowers cholesterol

Good news for the lactose intolerant!

Lactose in kefir is turned into milk acid, which is easily absorbed

Great baking ingredient.

Kefir is widely used in baking in Russia. Try making kefir pancakes for breakfast. Cakes made with kefir are moist with a hint of sourness.

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

Fit in like a local: describing awesome and awful things in Russian

Learn Russian as it is actually spoken: Russian slang and colloquial expressions explained with examples

It’s great to know how to say good or bad in Russian, but sometimes you just need a stronger word to describe you elation or frustration.

Клёво /klyovah/ or круто /krootah/

An expression of approval or great satisfaction. E.g. Мы круто погуляли вчера.–Wr had a great time yesterday!

Отпад /atpat/

Awesome! Amazing! E.g. Отпад! Ты сам это сделал? – Awesome! Did you do it yourself! Отпадные кроссовки!- Great trainers. ‘Отпадis derived from the word ‘падать’, i.e. something that makes you fall.

в осадке/v asahtke/, or выпасть в осадок /vypast v ahsahdahk/-

The opposite to ‘отпад’ – to be guttered, shocked or extremely upset. E.g. Я выпал в осадок, когда узнал, сколько это стоит! — I was shocked when I learned how much it cost!

Прикинь /preekeen/

Check it out! Can you imagine?! E.g. Прикинь, я буду папой!-Can you imagine? I’m going to be a Dad!

Прикольно /preekol’nah/,

Funny, cool, interesting

приколист /preekahleest/

Someone with a great sense of humour, someone who jokes, a prankster

Прикалываться /preekahlyvatsah/

To make jokes, to mess about. E.g. Не обижайся, я просто я прикалываюсь. -Don’t be upset, I’m just joking.

Зачёт /zahchot/

Well done. Good job. E.g. Вы хорошо поработали! Зачёт! -You’ve done a good job. Well done!

Зачётный /zahchotnyj/

Cool, nice, great.

Уау/wow/, упс/oops/

Exclamations borrowed from English, which effectively substituted Russian Ого /ogo/ and Ой /oy/. E.g.Уау, какая тачка! –Wow, what a car!

Рулить /ruleet/

Another borrowing from English to rule. To be the main one, the most interesting, attractive, simply the best. E.g. Его фильм рулит! His movie rules!

Попасть /pahpahst/

To get into trouble. E.g. -Меня уволили. -Ну ты попал! -I’ve been fired. -Oh, you’re in trouble.

You can also say попасть на деньги- get into financial difficulty or get tricked out of money

Блин /blin/

An exclamation to express your frustration. There is hardly a more common expression to use when things don’t go your way than блин. E.g. Блин, ты снова опаздываешь! – Man, you’re late again!

Фигня /fignya/

A thing, stuff, something unimportant or slightly unpleasant. E.g. Я не знаю, что это за фигня.- I don’t know what that thing is. Что за фигня? Ты снова не в офисе? – What’s the hell? You’re not in the office again!

Фигово /figovah/

Bad, unwell. E.g. Когда мне фигово, я прихожу сюда. – When I feel down, I come here.

Фу /foo/

Yuk! Urgh! An interjection to use when you have seen, heard or tasted something that you think is extremely unpleasant. E.g. Фу, как противно. -Ugh how disgusting!

Канитель /kanitel/

Problems. У них какая-то канитель с компьютерами- They are having some problems with computers.

Кадр /kahdr/

Funny or strange person. E.g. Ну ты кадр! Рассмешил меня! -You’re a character. You made me laugh!

Валенок /valenahk/

Quite the opposite of кадр. Not a particularly clever or interesting person. E.g. И ты поверил ей? Ну ты и валенок! -And you believed her? You’re the worst! The original meaning of валенок is a traditional Russian winter felt boots.

Понты /pahnty/, понтовый /pahntovyj/

Bravado, swagger, showing off. E.g. Я тебе хорошее предложение делаю, а ты мне понты кидаешь! – I’m making you a nice offer, and you’re giving me the high-hat.

Отстой /ahtstoy/

Something that sucks, something really bad. E.g. Фильм вообще отстой! – The film really sucks.

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

Russian slang words you’ll never learn in school

Learn Russian as it is actually spoken: Russian slang and colloquial expressions explained with examples

Russian might be the language of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, but it also happens to evolve quickly. So it’s always helpful to have a few current slang words up your sleeve to help you sound natural and in tune with current trends. We’ve made a short list of most useful and used slang words that you will most likely hear chatting to a Russian.

Тусоваться /tusahvahtsah/ to go out, have fun, hang out

e.g. Они обычно тусуются в восточном Лондоне. – They normally hang out in East London.

What a multifunctional word that is!

You can забить стрелку /zab\neet streloo/ arrange a meeting.

e.g. Мы забили стрелу на 8 у метро- We arranged a meeting at 8 by the tube.

Or you can забить на (что-то) forget about something, ignore, not stress out about something

e.g. Да забей ты на работу, пойдём в паб сегодня! Forget about the job, let’s go to a pub tonight!

A relatively new expression is забить болт /zabeet bolt/ to callously disregard or decisively stop doing something

e.g. Он артист честный: уехал в деревню, забил болт на всю цивилизацию. He is an honest artist, left to live in a village, forgot about the civilization.

Халява /khalyava/ What a Russian word that is! A freebie, an easy ride, something you get or achieve easily without putting in an effort, a small one-off job on the side

На халяву /nah khalyavu/ for free

Халявщик /khalyafschik/ халява-lover, free-loader.

e.g. Мы выпили на халяву шампанского и пошли домой. – we had some free champagne and went home.

We love adopting and russifying English words. Some of the recent and widely used phrases are

В тренде /f trendye/ and в хайпе /f haypye/, which literally translate as ‘in trend’, ‘in hype’

e.g. Свитшоты снова в тренде. – sweatshirts are in again.

(Yes, we also appropriated sweatshirt:))

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

Russian Shrove Sunday Pancakes – Масленичные блины

Celebrations of Maslenitsa-Shrovetide-in the older days were always accompanied by public gatherings and culinary delights. Not all Shrove week traditions survived until these days. But one of the most well known and, undoubtedly, the most delicious one lives on and is stronger than ever.

You must have guessed by now that we are talking about pancakes. We’re really big on pancakes-sweet and savoury, big and tiny, pancakes made with milk or buttermilk, water or kefir, yeast or soda – you name them, we make them!

Over Shrove week pancakes were the main dish on the festive table. To make sure her family and guests don’t get bored of them, every housewife tried to surprise them not only with an original recipe and filling, but also with a great variety, making different pancakes for every day of the week.

So it is no wonder that so many old traditional recipes have survived until our days.

We are offering you a tried and time tested recipe based on a very Russian (and much loved!) ingredient-kefir and a very Russian (and much coveted) filling -caviar.

Kefir pancakes with salmon/trout/beluga caviar filling


  • Kefir – 1.5 cups
  • Milk – 0.5 cup
  • White plain flour -2 cups
  • Sugar – 3 tbsp
  • Eggs – 2
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Soda – 1 tsp
  • Sunflower oil – 3tbsp
  • Caviar – as much as you fancy


  1. Sift flour with soda. Whisk eggs with sugar, add kefir and salt. Add the flour to the mixture and stir well.
  2. Add milk and oil and mix. Cover the batter with a towel and leave aside for about half an hour.
  3. If the batter is very thick, add milk or water until it has the consistency of double cream or yogurt.
  4. Fry the pancakes until golden on a really hot pan.
  5. Spread a little butter on each pancake while it’s still not.
  6. Add caviar and fold any way you like
  7. Decorate with a bit of sour cream and dill

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

Russian word of the day

МАСЛЕНИЦА is one of the favourite days of the year. Only NYE could rival that in Russia. You’d be surprised to learn that Maslenitsa-Russian pancake day-to-day is not celebrated on a Tuesday before the Great Lent, but during the whole week before the start of the lent. The culmination of it is Sunday, which we call ПРОЩЁНОЕ ВОСКРЕСЕНЬЕ – Shrove Sunday -/praschonaye vaskrisienye/, which literallmahy translates as Forgiveness Sunday.

So if you’ve been meaning to say sorry to someone in your life, but were not  brave enough, this coming Sunday is your day!!

The word МАСЛЕНИЦА derived from МАСЛО butter /mahslah/. The day is called so because of abundant ‘buttery’ meals eaten on that day before going on a strict lent when neither meat or diary products are eaten.

Guess what we are eating on that day! Of course! БЛИНЫ –pancakes- /blini

For traditional Russian pancake recipe click here

Twelve dishes of Christmas

Dish #2


Another must have on a festive table is Vzvar [Vzvar] взвар.

A great alcohol and sugar free alternative to mulled wine or hot Toddy.

It is traditionally made with dried fruits and honey. You’ll only make it better by adding cinnamon, cloves, anice seed- the choice is yours.

We are offering you a recipe with dried apples. But you can also make it with a mix of dried pears, cherries or prunes.

200g dried apples

4 tbs honey

1.5l water

Soak the apples in boiling water for about 4hours . If you’re planning to add aromatic herbs or spices, add them when you pour the boiling water, so they can infuse the drink. After 4 hours sift the mixture and add the honey. Mix until the honey is diluted.

Enjoy hot or cold!

Traditional Russian Christmas dishes

In the run up to Christmas we are offering you twelve traditional Russian Christmas dishes, both healthy and indulgent.

12 days following Christmas Day were considered Holly days, or Святки [Svyatki]. This is where the tradition of having twelve festive dishes on the Christmas table stems from.

Traditionally all food would have been prepared before the first star sets in the sky on Christmas eve.

The main dish would be Сочиво [Socheevah], or Кутья [Kootyah].

Сочиво, or кутья

This a delicious sweet dish, that can equally be eaten for breakfast, desert or at a Christmas table. Totally vegan as well!

  • 1 cup coarsely ground wheat grains
    100g poppy seeds
    100g walnuts or almonds
    2-3tbs liquid honey
    pinch of salt
    a handful of raisins (optional)

Rinse the wheat grains and soak them in boiling water for one hour. Rinse again and boil on medium heat until fully cooked.

Soak poppy seeds in boiling water for 15mins and then mash them with a spoon.

Add honey and mix well.

Add the mixture to the wheat .

Lastly, add raisins and chopped nuts.

Tip: *make sure the honey mixture is warm when adding it to the grains, so that they can absorb the sweetness of honey.

**You can easily substitute wheat for a cup of rice or 150g pearl barley. It will taste just as nice.

If Belka the dog could conquer space… Then you can conquer Russian… EASILY!