STARTALK Institute: Proficiency-Based Pedagogy for Russian

The Davis School of Russian was awarded a competitive grant to host a STARTALK Institute for Teachers of Russian in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. We hope to offer the program again in 2018. Please check back in March 2018 for an update, or send an email to to be placed on the mailing list for this program.

In 2017, the STARTALK Institute was able to award 5 scholarships to cover tuition for the 1-Week Refresher Course. These competitive scholarships were for STARTALK participants who needed to “update” their language skills before starting the on-campus program. More information about the Refresher Course is available here.

The STARTALK Institute 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 program director; Olesya V. Kisselev, PhD candidate at Penn State University, will serve as lead instructor; and Evgeny Dengub, PhD, testing coordinator and former lead instructor at Davis School of Russian and the director of the Russian program at Smith College, UMass Amherst and Mount Holyoke College, will serve as instructor.

The program will consist of two parts:

Online Session: June 25 - 29, 2018

Residential Session on Middlebury Campus: July 17 - 30, 2018

Note: 2018 dates are provisional, pending grant approval.

Tuition, lodging expenses, meals, textbooks, and classroom materials will covered by grant funding. 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 (to be posted in March 2018).