American Councils to Lead STARTALK Discover Russian Programs

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American Councils will administer teacher training and student immersion programs this summer in Fairfax County, VA

We have seen the STARTALK program instill a love of learning another language in our former students—many of whom go on to advance their Russian skills through programs like NSLI-Y.

With an eye toward increasing access to high quality foreign language programs in the greater DC/MD/VA area, American Councils will administer two STARTALK Discover Russian programs this summer: a two-week training track for teachers of Russian as well as a four-week immersion program for elementary school students. The programs will be co-located at Holmes Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia.

President of American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) Betsy Sandstrom, an American Councils Board of Trustees member and an experienced administrator and teacher of Russian in Fairfax County Public Schools, will serve as program director for the sixth consecutive year.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the STARTALK Discover Russian programs this summer,” said Sandstrom with regard to her role. “We have seen the STARTALK program instill a love of learning another language in our former students—many of whom go on to advance their Russian skills through programs like NSLI-Y. Equally important, the teacher training component is a wonderful opportunity for teachers of Russian to not only improve their methodology and skillset, but a chance to network within the rather small community of Russian language teachers in the U.S. It’s just a great experience for all involved.”

Russian Immersion for Young Students
Serving as an extension of the Russian program offered at neighboring Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), the student program is a four-week intensive, immersion-style Russian program for students from 6th to 12th grade. Two levels are available: Level One for students with no prior Russian language experience and Level Two for students with novice-level Russian language skills.

To enhance the immersion experience, teacher participants will work closely with students both in the classroom and during lunch periods as the student and teacher-training programs overlap, creating an unusually low teacher-student ratio. Participants will be encouraged to enroll or continue in Russian programs at their home schools after the program.

The program will develop students' communicative competence in Russian language, using weekly benchmark assessments as well as the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) to measure individual student outcomes as well as overall program effectiveness.

Training Teachers of Russian
The STARTALK Discover Russian Teacher Program is a two-week teacher-training program, with the theme of Integrating Technology into the Teaching and Learning of Russian through Standards-based Instruction that will provide 15 teachers of Russian with a professional development opportunity, six hours a day for a period of two weeks. The goal is to prepare teachers to deliver a standards-based instructional program at the K-16 level in Russian.

As part of the program, teachers will conduct microteaching lessons with STARTALK students, receive Modified Oral Proficiency Interview (MOPI) training, and learn how to integrate technology into instruction. Teachers will have an opportunity to obtain up to three credits from Elms College for program participation and will be encouraged to enroll or continue in a teacher certification program. Nataliya Ushakova, a teacher of Russian at Staten Island Technical High School and a member of the ACTR Board, AATSEEL, and ACTFL, is returning for her sixth year as the lead instructor for the teacher program. Ushakova has extensive classroom experience and has taught Russian both in the U.S. and Russia.

For more information on the STARTALK Discover Russia programs, please visit the Facebook page.

About ACTR
The American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), founded in 1974, is a professional membership association for teachers and others interested in Russian language, literature, and culture. With more than 1,650 members, ACTR is dedicated to advancing the teaching and study of Russian through publications, programs, and conferences.

About American Councils
American Councils for International Education is a premier, international nonprofit creating educational opportunities that prepare individuals and institutions to succeed in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world. Through academic exchanges, overseas language immersion, and educational development programs, American Councils designs and administers innovative programs that broaden individual perspectives, increase knowledge, and deepen understanding.

For 40 years, American Councils has responded to the needs of the communities where we work with hundreds of robust, international education programs that span over 70 countries, 40 languages, and are represented by over 55,000 alumni worldwide, including government leaders, top international educators, business innovators, public officials, and K-16 students.

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