Russian and Eastern European Society
The Russian and Eastern European Society, also known as SPUTNIK, is a student organization that plans and funds events related to Russian and Eastern European language, culture, and interest. The club organizes excursions such as picnics in the Green Mountains, trips to the local banya, or fundraisers for important causes. SPUTNIK also invites guest speakers to meet with students and share their experiences working or researching in the Russian or Eastern European world.
The Russian House at Middlebury (Русский дом) is a residential space in which a few upper-level Russian students can live to improve their language skills with the help of the resident native-speaking teaching assistant.
The house is a learning center not only for the residents, but also for other students of Russian and Russian speakers, who drop in to practice their conversation skills, get help with homework, or just visit and join in social activities. There is space for faculty-student gatherings, meals, films, holiday celebrations, and other cultural events.
Living at the house entails signing a language pledge similar to that of our summer Davis School of Russian. Residents promise to speak only Russian while in the house.
Frequently Asked Questions
Russian is an East Slavic language of the wider Indo-European family. It is quite close to the other Slavic languages (Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Slovak, etc.) and if you are familiar with one or more of those, the similarities will quickly become obvious. Over the course of centuries Russian has also been influenced by other European languages, including Greek, French, English, Dutch, German, and Italian, as well as (to a lesser extent) the languages to the south and the east: Uralic, Turkic, Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew.
According to the list of languages created by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Russian belongs to the Category III Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English and requires approximately 44 weeks (1,100 class hours) for reaching professional proficiency. Other languages included in this group are Greek, Nepali, Hindi, Hebrew, Georgian, Bulgarian, etc.
It other words, mastering Russian will take a native speaker of English more time than Italian, Spanish, French, German, or Portuguese, but less time than becoming proficient in Arabic, Mandarin, or Korean.
Absolutely! During our first-year sequence (RUSS0101 in the fall, 0102 in winter, and 0103 in the spring) you will learn to read and write in Russian, talk about family, food, daily routine, traveling, books, and movies, and so many other things! No prior experience with the language is required.
We are happy to have you on any level, from Beginning Russian (0101) to advanced courses and senior seminars. Please contact us through email or stop by Freeman International Center (third floor) to chat with us in person and decide which language level will be the best fit for you.
We do! The Russian alphabet, also known as Cyrillic, consists of 33 letters (10 vowel letters and 20 consonants, with two pronunciation signs). Some of them, such as Aa, Oo, Кк, or Cc look exactly like their Latin counterparts, while others like Яя, Фф, Ии, Лл are pretty unique. Naturally, learning the Russian alphabet is one of the first things we do in Beginning Russian, and you can expect to have it covered by the end of the first week of classes.
Fun fact: According to the legend, Cyrillic alphabet was created by two Thessalonian monks—Cyril (for whom the alphabet is named) and Methodius—who were tasked by Byzantium with bringing Christianity to the Slavic people. This legend, however, is inaccurate, because the writing system developed by the brothers is actually the Glagolithic alphabet, which is far more complicated. Cyrillic is a simpler system based on the Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic (Egyptian) writing systems. While some still attribute it to Cyril, the exact origins are more uncertain.
Daily classes, small groups, fast progress, and lots of fun! We will learn to read and write in Cyrillic, pronounce Russian sounds, practice speaking about various topics, and discuss cultural differences between languages and countries. If you stay for RUSS0102, you may also have a chance to join the theatrical show staged by the students of the Russian Department.