Quick and easy Russian keyboard

Ever needed to type something quickly in Russian, but don’t have access to a Russian keyboard layout? Just call up Google Translate, and type your Russian in phonentic Roman characters for instant transliteration! It’s not only great if you don’t have a Russian keyboard layout handy, but also great if you don’t have time to learn how the keys are mapped to Russian letters on a standard Russian keyboard. Ask any non-Russian who’s had to learn to type on a Russian keyboard, and they’ll no doubt bemoan the fact that the sounds are in completely different places to a standard UK / US keyboard. If you need to type in Russian straight away, then using the phonetic input system on Google Translate is a real time saver. Words appear in Russian script after you type each word into the text field. Type in sobaka and it will instantly become собака as you press space to begin the next word. After you’ve finished, just copy and paste the russified text into your document / email.

If you do want to know the real thing and move on to learning the bona fide Russian keys, then Wikipedia has a comprehensive article on keyboard layouts at this link. It’s usually quite easy to add a foreign keyboard option in the main operating systems – find details in the following links for Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu (Linux).

Incidentally, Google Translate is a great machine translation tool too! Only don’t use it to write your homework for you – your teacher will know! 😉

Free audiobooks in Russian

If you’re looking for some more challenging listening material, it’s worth visiting the free audiobook site LibriVox.org, which offers audiobooks in a variety of languages – including Russian. Visit the site at this link. On the homepage, click the link for the online catalogue, then More Search Options on the search page. The expanded search page gives you the option to search for audiobooks by language – simply select Russian, search, and you get a list of downloadable files. Currently there is a range of material, including poetry, prose and even a selection of Aesop’s fables in Russian – all great for listening practice. And remember, even if you don’t understand everything, listening for gist – even the odd word – is an important skill in language learning. And just the fact that you’re listening to native speaker Russian will help your ear atune to the sound of the language.

Click here to visit LibriVox!