A teacher stands in front of a screen, speaking with her students.

The STARTALK Institute at Middlebury is an intensive, year-long training program for current and prospective teachers of Russian. 

The Institute offers intensive training in proficiency-oriented teaching of adult learners (high school and post-secondary) that is grounded in second language acquisition theory and evidence-based teaching practices. Instruction will be offered in a hybrid format, including online synchronous, asynchronous, and in-person activities. The program comprises three modules totaling 128 instructional hours: (1) foundational principles of proficiency-based pedagogy (online), (2) practical applications of these principles (residential, in-person), and (3) further knowledge and skill enhancement in a community of practice (online):

  • Pre-immersion Online Session: May 7 – 31, 2024
  • Residential Session at Middlebury: July 17 - August 1, 2024
  • Post-immersion Online Session: September 30, 2024 – May 1, 2025

The program will select 18 participants from among Russian language instructors working at the high school or college level. Tuition, classroom materials, and summer room and board will be covered by the federal STARTALK grant. Participants who successfully complete all components of the program will receive 3 Middlebury units of graduate credit (equivalent to 9 semester hours of credit) and may also be eligible to receive a $1,200 stipend funded by the grant.

Learning Goals

Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be able to demonstrate: 

  • understanding of the crucial components and processes involved in adult second language acquisition;
  • understanding of the ACTFL-defined proficiency levels and sublevels;
  • ability to plan lessons, develop materials and assessment instruments that are based on appropriate proficiency targets;
  • ability to integrate language, culture, and content in a proficiency-oriented classroom;
  • ability to create an inclusive language classroom and teach for diversity, inclusivity, and belonging; and
  • ability to engage learners in real-world learning experiences that prepare them to use Russian beyond the classroom. 

Program Highlights

As a participant, you will engage in discussions, readings, targeted lesson observations, presentations, and hands-on activities, including practice teaching in collaboration with other program participants. During the on-site session, you will stay on the Middlebury College campus and will have a unique opportunity to interact with highly motivated students as well as develop network connections with experienced and talented instructors from around the world working with diverse approaches to teaching the language. Being a member of the Middlebury Russian School, you will also take Middlebury’s famous Language Pledge®, capitalizing on the program’s unique feature to improve and support your language skills.


Applications are due by 11:59 PM EST on February 26, 2024. Please use the application form. Admission to this grant-funded program is competitive.


We welcome applications from post-secondary or high-school language instructors with limited teaching experience or training, as well as graduate students in Russian language, culture, and literature programs who plan to teach the Russian language at the college or high school level. Applicants who represent educational contexts which serve underrepresented populations or who come from underrepresented groups themselves will be given priority. Former STARTALK teacher-program participants are eligible to apply, but preference will be given to first-time applicants. To be considered, applicants must

  • teach (or plan to teach) the Russian language at the high school or college level
  • have at least Advanced level proficiency in Russian (either OPI scores or self-assessment accepted)
  • take the Language Pledge during the residential part of the program at Middlebury
  • commit to participating in all of the program’s components.

For details on program structure, instructors, and eligibility to participate, please visit STARTALK Program Details.


Email Dr. Olesya Kisselev, Program Director, at okisselev@middlebury.edu.