STARTALK Institute: Proficiency-based Pedagogy for Teachers of Russian

The Davis School of Russian hosted a STARTALK Institute for teachers in 2013, 2014, and 2016. We hope to offer the program again in 2017, pending grant approval. Please check back in March 2017 for an update. To receive an update by email, write to

This program is for current and prospective teachers of Russian. The principles of second language acquisition, proficiency-based instruction, and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century will serve as the foundation for this intensive pedagogy program.

The program curriculum is designed to give participants a solid understanding of the ACTFL proficiency guidelines, proficiency-oriented teaching, and Standards for Foreign Language Learning. Participants will learn how to choose appropriate pedagogical strategies and apply effective teaching and assessment methods that will develop students' linguistic and cultural proficiency in Russian. The program curriculum will focus on communicative learner-centered instruction, which uses interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes of communication and integrates the five standards (communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities).

During the program, participants will observe classes taught by Russian School faculty and interact with the instructors through formal and informal discussions. They will also be exposed to the teaching and linguistic expertise of Middlebury faculty who, as guest lecturers, will lead a series of workshops and seminars. Participants will incorporate everything they have learned by designing and implementing a number of classroom activities and mini-lessons. When not in the classroom during the evening and on weekends, participants will have access to the robust, immersive, co-curricular programs that are an important component in developing cultural competency at the Middlebury Language Schools. By living in the language, participants themselves will observe how a learning community of people who speak Russian with varying levels of fluency can be built and sustained.

Irina Dubinina, PhD, Director of the Russian program at Brandeis University, will serve as lead instructor; Olesya V. Kisselev, PhD candidate at Penn State University, will serve as instructor; and Evgeny Dengub, PhD, a lead instructor at Middlebury Russian School and the director of the Russian program at Smith College, UMass Amherst and Mount Holyoke College, will serve as program director.

The program will consist of two parts:

Online session: TBA

Residential session on Middlebury campus: TBA

Tuition, lodging expenses, meals, textbooks, and classroom materials will covered by grant funding, and each participant was eligible to receive a travel reimbursement of up to $300. Participants receive one course unit of graduate credit.

Eligibility requirements: Candidates must be currently teaching or planning to teach Russian in the United States. Russian language proficiency must be at the graduate level (Advanced Low or higher).

For more information, please consult our FAQs.