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Table of Contents (click to jump to section)

  1. Build in Program Practicality

Featured!   (Back to Top)

The Language Center at George Washington University has done pioneering work in integrating technology with language development.  It is part of an national network of 14 Centers which were created in part with a grant from the Department of Education

Starting an Educational Class Blog - an article on the benifits and strategies of starting a class blog.

The Ukrainian Traditional Folklore at the University of Alberta provides several exciting examples for how to use technology to teach culture.  See particularly the "Material Culture" and "Verbal Culture" sections. is a web-based resource providing instant access to high quality teaching materials such as lesson plans, reading and listening activities, exercises, and games, as well as assessment tools and reference materials. offers lots of electronic classroom materials including free powerpoint presentations and more. allows members to easily develop interactive flash-based educational quizes and trivia games. 


1. Online Testing Services for Russian   (Back to Top)
Administrators are often impressed by standardized testing results. Bolstering your department with a website can be effective to maintain communication and advertise. 

SRAS Free Testing offers educators a testing platform based on the written TORFL examination.  Basic exams to level three are available online - just create an account and start!

Wimba's Oral Assessment Builder is a test authoring tool for creating tests of speaking skills and handles oral stimulus and response well.  It operates off Java technology and should work on most platforms and browsers.

Test Pilot Online Assessments (from ClearLearning) provides language testing tools based on Java technology. It can provide verbal stimulus, but does not yet allow for oral response.  

Language Testing International is the exclusive licensee of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), a leader in the development of proficiency evaluation methods. LTI arranges ACTFL language proficiency assessments in 48 languages for corporations, government agencies, academic institutions and individuals.  Its tests are more personal and subjective, with traditional paper tests and speaking tests administered over the telephone.

Lots more info! This site, maintained by San Diego State University, provides extensive information about online testing services. Don't be turned off by the primitiveness of the page!  It is apparently well maintained.

Language Link also offers a basic test that can be used to assess language level.

QuizStar can let you create online quizzes for your students, disseminate quizzes to students, automatically grade quizzes and view the quiz results online.


2. Syllabi for Inspiration   (Back to Top)

Russia Today - taught by Michael Denner at Stetson University, Fl., provides an example of Russian course which considers modern issues. The syllabus (only the first part is presented here) is a fun and informative as well as a good description of the course. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) released a skills map that addresses world languages. The purpose of the map is to provide educators, administrators and policymakers with examples that illustrate how 21st century skills can be integrated into a world language curriculum.

UCLA Language Materials Project provides a bibliography of many web and print resources.  

Resource Center for Teachers of Russian offers a range of free lesson plans and materials.

Professor Andy Kaufman has posted full syllabi for several classes from language to literature on his site.

Elementry Russian at the University of Pittsburgh uses the Golosa textbook.

Kentucky Framework for World Language Learning has several creative ideas online that can be used for lessons.

Slavic Pagan Culture and Its Legacy

 3. For Language Learners
 Click the Russian keyboard for recommended resources for language learners!
Click the Russian keyboard for recommended free texts, audio, video, and interactive resources for students!


4. Institutianal Materials   (Back to Top)

Russian Advanced Interactive Listening System (RAILS) is run by the University of Wisconsin lots of interactive lessons on topical themes.  Requires institutional licence.

SCOLA is a pay service that provides authentic material (mostly news broadcasts) with available structured lesson material.

5. CD ROM Material    (Back to Top)
(order online)

Twelve Chairs Interactive from Lexicon Bridge Publishers uses a digitized film of the classic comedy combined with dialog transcripts and linguistic, historical, and cultural glosses. 

The Teaching Company, located near Washington, D.C. has issued recordings of thirty six half-hour lectures on "Classics of Russian Literature" by Professor Irwin Weil, from Northwestern University. In a popular format, they cover elements of language and culture from Kievan Rus', followed by selected masterpieces from the 19th and 20th centuries, starting with Pushkin and continuing up to Solzhenitsyn. There is also some material on the relation between literature and operatic music. These presentations have proved very popular with thousands of Northwestern University students and many adult education groups. Details are available at the Internet address <> - lectures are available on DVD, videotape, audiotape, CD, and i-pod download.

6. Build Your Own Material   (Back to Top)

Audacity Audio Editor is capable of recording streaming audio to local media and then slowing it down by up to forty percent without noticeable distortion, either in pitch or sample quality.  Free.

Learner Language shows that second language acquisition is dependent on a built-in syllabus within the learner, which often differs from the syllabus the teacher uses and strives to bring the two sylabai into agreement.

Interlex is a free program for building vocabulary excersizes.

Multimedia Annotator and Lesson Builder allows you to add lesson material to multimedia files.  Purchase from University of Wisconsin-Madison for 30-50 USD. is an online encyclopedia with lots of maps that you can put into PowerPoint, add more labels to, and use for handouts or print on transparencies.

SuperTeacherTools.comBarkingCollege, and all offer template games and resources that can be adapted for your classroom and material.  

WizIQ has a good list of online resources for language teachers.

a. Vocabulary Flash Card Programs        (Back to Top)
Thanks to David J. Birnbaum at the University of Pittsburgh for contributing these resources.

Hot Potatoes is the system I have selected for use in my first-year Russian course at the University of Pittsburgh. The licensing information reads "Hot Potatoes is free for use by individuals working for state-funded educational institutions which are non-profit making, on the condition that the material you produce using the program is freely available to anyone via the WWW." The cost for other users is $120. Hot Potatoes generates technologically robust standards-compliant stand-alone web-based materials that you can deliver from your own server, with good support for customization. Audio is supported. Accented Cyrillic using the Unicode x301 combining acute accent is displayed correctly except in drop-down lists, where the accent mark is rendered after, rather than over, the vowel. Registration (free) is required to unlock some features.

WordChamp is free for all users. The audio integration seems particularly good. All material is open access and the site draws on existing resources, so that, for example, if you enter a word for which someone else has uploaded audio, the system will find the audio and give you the opportunity to use it in your activities. Can create files to download to mp3 players, but, as far as I can tell, except for the mp3 audio export, the cards can be delivered only from the WordChamp server, which means that the longevity of your data is tied to the health and stability of the site. WordChamp has been around since 2004 (its parent company since 2003).

Quia is a very varied and capable site with a number of activity types not found elsewhere. Nonetheless, I personally am uneasy about it because it requires annual payments and because your material must be served from their site. This means that should you stop paying at some point, you could lose access to work you've already created, and it also means that the longevity of your data is tied to the health and stability of the site. The cost is fairly modest (educational subscriptions are currently $49 per year, with group pricing available) and Quia has been around since 1998.

Microsoft PowerPoint (or similar presentation software) can be pressed into service for flashcard drilling, but is not designed to support shuffling the deck or deleting individual items during a study session. Most users own a copy already, so although it is commercial and rather expensive, adapting it for flash card use usually will require no additional cost. PowerPoint can embed image and sound files.

MaxAuthor is also free for all users but is Windows-compatible-only. It supports annotated reading and activities based on annotated reading, but it is not designed for the decontextualized lexical drilling supported by traditional flashcards (although it does support a type of flashcard training on vocabulary in continuous texts for reading). Supports export as HTML for most features for delivery from your own server, although when I tried a sample file available on their server and clicked on the links to hear audio, the text window was replaced by a QuickTime window (that is, I could no longer see the text while listening to the audio).

Interlex is also free for all users. However, it is a stand-alone desktop application not designed for web serving. Related class files may be distributed over campus networks or via email.  

BYKI offers two versions of its program. Byki-Lite is free; Byki Deluxe (required to create your own word lists) costs $39.95. Again, this is a stand-alone desktop application that is not designed for web serving. It supports audio, including mp3 download.

7. Build in Program Practicality

A. Fullfill Requirements
Offering general education classes can be a great way to attract new students.  This comment submitted by Michael Denner, Stetson University:

"I teach a general education class (Russia Today) that lots of students take because it fulfills a basic requirement. It's taught well, and they get really interested in Russian, and end up taking my language class the next year. Classes on film, culture and literature are all big draws here, and though theydirectly funnel only a few students into the language class, they indirectly funnel lots of students. It's a way... to increase the presence of Russian on campus. It takes work, though, and these courses have to be taught well."

B.  Involve and Encourage Students 

1.  Empower Russian Clubs.  Clubs can be a great way to harness student support for programs and for organizing events to bolster program visibility and prestige (see Section III, Develop the Market).  Consider giving the club the status of an advisory counsel for your department – involve them in creating or revising classes and hiring new staff. You needn't give them an absolute vote nor need you involve them with confidential department information.  However, empowering students is a good way to keep them in the department and more active, which is likely to attract still more students.  

2.  Get Students Published.  If you have students who research and write well, encourage them to publish.  SRAS currently sponsors an academic journal called Vestnik, The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies, which accepts and publishes student contributions on any subject pertaining to Russia or the New States of Eurasia.   If your student's work is accepted, make sure to notify others in your department, the campus newspaper and other local news agencies.  Maximizing the coverage you can get from any event is key to making the most of any marketing opportunity. 

3.  Encourage Pedagogy.  As the old saying goes - sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Teaching can also bolster program practicality by giving students a resume builder which will show that they have experience in public speaking and explaining difficult concepts.  Section III will provide quite a few ideas for forums for these projects.  Of course, this is best for more advanced students, best as a required and integrated course component, and best if the resume potential is well explained beforehand. 

4.  Encourage Competition.  Forming "Regional Olympiada" with other Russian departments in your area can be a great way for you to network and have your students network with others that share their interest in Russian.  It also creates some exposure for the university (particularly if you host or win the event) that administrators often like to see. 

III.  Form Partnerships with Other Departments 

One of the best ways to overcome student's perception of foreign languages as superfluous is to simply go to them and tell them that that perception is wrong. 

1.  Formulate Classes or Seminars with Other Departments.

  • Journalism, for example, might be interested in formulating an international journalism course that would include guest speakers lecturing on foreign languages and cultures.  Journalism might also be interested in seeing our new page of links to Russian journalism resources.
  • History might be receptive to seminars on language and researching/using documents written or translated from foreign languages.
  • Business and Economics could probably use a class on international markets, business cultures, travel and, of course, languages.  Nothing can be more endearing when meeting with foreign clientele than to show you are open to learning and communicating in their language.  There is a grant for this one
  • Art departments are often extremely open to exposing their students to other cultures.  Consider assisting them in formulating programs that would study, for example, Russian culture and art, include a language component, and would end in a summer excursion to St. Petersburg and Moscow to see the art, culture, and language first hand.
  • Education might be interested to learn about a program Indiana University instituted toallow student teaching requirements to be fulfilled overseas (to encourage bilingual, culturally conscious teachers).  

The list goes on, but this should give you an idea of some of the possibilities.  It may seem, at some first glace, that ideas which might involve other language departments might make your organizational work and initiative less profitable, but this is not necessarily the case.  By making courses/seminars/activities wider in scope, you broaden their appeal and thus increase the audience hearing your marketing message.  Thus, you increase the possibilities that you might spark an interest that might result in an enrollment.  We hope to expand this section soon. 

2.  Form Partnerships with Other Institutions and Business

This can be the most difficult to pull off, but one that can pay off well by providing direct business experience for your students, and possible jobs after they graduate.

There is a grant offered through the Department of Education to help "institutions of higher education that enter into an agreement with a trade association and/or business for two purposes: to improve the academic teaching of the business curriculum and to conduct outreach activities that expand the capacity of the business community to engage in international economic activities."

Obviously, programs involving foreign languages can do exactly this. 

Ideas for specific projects will vary greatly depending on your local economy but to get the ball rolling, consider that Russia imports three billion USD worth of goods from the US annually.  These include mostly oil/gas equipment, poultry, inorganic chemicals, tobacco, aircraft, medical equipment, automobiles, and automobile parts.  The US imports a total of about twelve billion USD worth goods from Russia that include oil, aluminum, chemicals, platinum, iron/steel, fish and seafood, knit apparel, nickel, wood, and copper. Russia is also a major exporter of software development services.  Check with your business department for more ideas. 

Also keep in mind that not always do you have to stay in the bounds of your own campus – nearby institutions might be interested in joining forces with you; far away institutions might be interested in collaborating on distance learning programs; Russian universities and institutions within the former Soviet Union are often very receptive to partnership on any number of levels.  SRAS can help you contact and coordinate with these institutions. 

IV.  Encourage Study Abroad

Students who study abroad for a summer or semester are often the best "proselytizers" for a program.  Plus, it adds to their program practicality by giving them the opportunity to use their language skills in real situations.  It also adds to their resumes, showing that they can take risks and handle themselves in unfamiliar environments and situations.  It can also increase their possibilities of getting interviews, as interviewers are often liable to call in candidates who have interesting stories to tell. 

SRAS offers a full range of services for educators sending groups, or for students coming individually.  If you have any questions concerning these possibilities, contact us

Some of This Make You Nervous?
Ready to go forward with implementing marketing concepts to your Russian program, but unsure how to proceed, or just unsure in general?  We've provided some general conceptshere to help you develop advertising for your events as well as overcome "marketing fright."


7. Articles, Journals, and More Materials   (Back to Top)

Language Learning and Technology is an online journal of the latest research and theory in the field.  Hosted by the Michigan State University.  Free

Teaching Internet Saftey in the Language Classroom - can be particularly helpful for teachers that encourage advanced students to explore the foreign-language parts of the Internet.

Developing Autonomy in Language Learners is a free publication from the National Capital Language Resource Center.

CALICO Journal is another online academic journal devoted to online language learning.  Free

Journal of Educational Technology Systems can be purchased by subscription or per-article. 


"Materials for Teaching Russian" by Benjamin Rifkin, 2000, provides an overview of available resources. Last updated in 2005.

"Living in the Virtual Material World" by Peter W. Holloway and Natalie Kononenko, discusses the usefulness and creation processes for 3-D digital resources in teaching culture. The authors are at Ukrainian Folklore Centre at the University of Alberta.  Article originally published in SEEFA, Fall, 2002. 

"The Use and Abuse of Meaning Technologies" by Phil Hubbard, 2002, discuss and offers advice on using meaning technologies appropriately.

"Google as a Corpus Tool?" by Thomas Robb, 2003, investigates the usefulness of using popular search engines as language-building tools. 

"Using Native Speakers in Chat" by Vincenza Tudini, 2003, gives ideas and thoughts on using electronic mediums for non-traditional lessons.

Considerations in Developing and Using Computer-Adaptive Tests to Assess Second Language Proficiency by Patricia A. Dunkel, 1999, is a little dated, but still relevant.


CCPCR offers a large list of links to other sites with Russian materials and resources.

CCPCR Database of Russian Texts is an extensive list of recommended books for use in Russian college programs.

Understanding Russian History through Literature - this PowerPoint presentation gives detailed perspectives for teaching history through literature, or teaching the historical background of Russian literature. Developed by Gina Pierce, Assistant Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

- More Resources for Learning Russian -

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Click the Russian keyboard for recommended resources for language learners!

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