A Russian student studies in the library.

The STARTALK Institute at Middlebury is intended for current and prospective teachers of Russian.

Note: This professional development program is funded on an annual basis by a federal grant. We hope to offer this program in Summer 2022! STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency sponsoring summer teacher development and language learner programs in 8 critical-need languages including Russian.

The principles of second language acquisition and proficiency-based instruction serves as the foundation for this intensive pedagogy program, which includes 10 days of online classes and a residential session on campus:

Online Session: TBD (required)

Residential Session at Middlebury: TBD (required)

Tuition, lodging expenses, meals, textbooks, and classroom materials will be covered by grant funding. Participants receive one course unit of graduate credit (equivalent to three semester hours). Candidates must be currently teaching or planning to teach Russian in the United States. Russian language proficiency must be at the Advanced Low or higher level.


The program curriculum is designed to give participants a solid understanding of the ACTFL proficiency guidelines and proficiency-oriented teaching. Over the course of 20 days (90 instructional hours), split between the on-line and on-site parts, participants will acquire and/or expand the knowledge and understanding of basic tenets of second language acquisition and proficiency-based pedagogy, as well as practice the application of newly acquired concepts in real classroom.

Participants will learn how to choose appropriate pedagogical strategies and apply effective teaching and assessment methods that will develop students’ linguistic proficiency in Russian. Participants will incorporate everything they have learned by designing and implementing a number of classroom activities and mini-lessons.

Campus Life

During the program, you’ll have an opportunity to experience first-hand the intensive immersive environment of the Russian School as you will be required to take the Language Pledge® and maintain communication in Russian during STARTALK activities and all interactions with other students and faculty—including the Middlebury Russian School instructors and students.

When not in class, you can engage in the robust, immersive, cocurricular activities as an important component of your experience. By living in the language, you can observe how a learning community of people who speak Russian with varying levels of fluency can be built and sustained.

“What makes this program unbeatable…is the collegiality of all interactions, whether among Startalk participants or with students and faculty of the Middlebury Russian School. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wishes to teach Russian at the secondary or postsecondary levels.” - Cassio de Oliveira

“In the Startalk Program, I learned how to think about my Russian language teaching in a more sophisticated way: to make decisions based on second-language acquisition theories and established methodologies — not just gut instinct — and informed by extended conversations with more experienced colleagues. In particular, our work on the proper structure and progression of a lesson, the contextualization of exercises and activities, and approaches to student error correction led to significant improvements in my teaching. This program offers the opportunity to build Russian teaching skills in an immersive Russian language environment, surrounded by some of the best and most devoted Russian language teachers in the world. The program is exceptionally well run by Evgeny Dengub and Irina Dubinina, whose careful planning, endless energy, thoughtful feedback, insights, and attention to detail have much to do with the program’s success and its lasting impact on participants’ teaching.” - Holly Myers


Admission to this grant-funded program is competitive. You may be asked to submit supplementary materials, such as a resume/cv or university transcripts.


Consult our FAQs or email schoolofrussian@middlebury.edu.