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Each month the SRAS newsletter features lots of information about Russia, its language, politics, economy, and current events. Want the newsletter? 

Program Development
Developing Your Program for Maximum Enrollment

The following resource is intended for educators seeking to develop their programs not only by employing technology, online resources, and unique pedagogical methods, but also by applying ideas from marketing to better "sell" their program to students and increase enrolment numbers.

Selected Programs Abroad:
  Russian Studies
  Research Travel

Table of Contents (click to jump to section)

  1. Featured Online Resources
  2. Marketing 101 for Russian 101
  3. Build Practical, Fun Programs
  4. Form Partnerships and Network
  5. Advocacy and Statistics
  6. Online Materials for Language Learners>>>
  7. More Publishing and Professional Resources>>>


1. Featured Online Resources   (Back to Top)

SRAS Language Resources offers recommended free texts, audio, video, and interactive resources for students.

SRAS MiniLessons are short texts describing modern Russian life in a mix of English and Russian - they are designed to build cultural awareness and vocabulary.

SRAS Projects offer lots of free classroom materials - focused on politics, cooking, and more.

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 created in part with a grant from the Department of Education.

Starting an Educational Class Blog is 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 a "lounge" where you can create and share materials.

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.


2. Online Testing Services for Russian   (Back to Top)
Administrators are often impressed by standardized testing results. Regular testing has also been shown to boost profeciency. 

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!

Language Testing International is the exclusive licensee of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and arranges language proficiency assessments in 48 languages, with traditional paper tests and speaking tests administered over the telephone, for corporations, government agencies, academic institutions and individuals.

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


3. Syllabi for Inspiration   (Back to Top)

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.

AATSEEL offers a large collection of syllabai from language, culture, and linguistic classes.

A simple Google search can turn up lots more. It seems nearly everyone puts syllabai online for free download these days.


Featured: SRAS's Free
Language Resources

Free Russian Lessons Language

Recommended free texts,
audio, video,
and interactive resources for students!


SRAS Eurasian CookbookEurasian

Recipes from Eurasian countries in language lessons with words and phrases associated with preparing and enjoying the food!


Politics in TranslationPolitics in Translation
Russian political platforms and other documents in (usually) side-by-side translation. Build advanced vocabulary skills in modern political rhetoric!


Free Russian TestingTesting 
Free TORFL practice exams, as well as verbs of motion, grammar and vocabulary quizzes. Educators may make special accounts to track how their students do.


Olga's BlogMini-

Short texts describing modern Russian life in English. Russian vocabulary and phrases worked in to help build vocabulary!



4. 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.

Blackboard Collaborate allows you to quickly and easily convert your Microsoft Word documents into content for your online courses.

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.

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.

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.

Quizlet offers online flashcards that you can make yourself, add photos from Flickr to, and it has audio! There is an app for iPhones and iPads that allows you to practice your cards (and get high scores) on an iPad.

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.

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.


5. Marketing 101 for Russian 101   (Back to Top)

Selected Programs Abroad:
   Study Abroad
in Russia!

   Study Abroad
in Russia!


The best defence is often a good offence. The best way to bolster your program against cuts is to work for healthy enrolment numbers. A few things to keep in mind when promoting your program or developing new programs, events, or advertising:

  • Develop the Market
    Most major industries have realised that it is much more effective to market their product to those who aren't already familiar with it or don't know they need it. It's called "developing the market" and is designed to enlarge your present and future "customer base." Showing students how foreign language study can help their pursuits in non-language fields can result cross-over enrollment and multidisciplinary students. Also, consider that the greater the awareness of Russian programs and culture is within your campus and community, the more likely students are to gain curiosity about Russia and your program.
  • What is Cool?
    Most students don't take Russian because they know little about it, little about Russia, and the alphabet looks strange and exotic. However, what keeps students away can also be used to draw them closer. The Cyrillic alphabet is cool enough that it is used in stereotypical marketing campaigns - anything with a Russian connection has to use a backwards "R" somewhere in it marketing. Letting students know that this is silly and completely inaccurate is a good conversation starter and a good opening to sparking an interest. Students are also generally interested in differentiating themselves from their peers. Many will be interested in taking a course that not many other students are taking for the simple fact that it is different. Many of the more intellegent students will also seek to challenge themselves with something other than what is considered "normal" and "easy." Russian is difficult and exotic - embrace that rather than trying to soften it.
  • What is Practical?
    To capture the enrolment, taking the extra step of showing that taking Russian is something that students need - rather than just abstractly want - is advisable. To do this, appeal to students' other interests and career aspirations. Humanities students interested in Russian history, theatre, music, etc. will generally need to know Russian if they wish to move on to graduate studies - and to excel in their fields, they would need to be able to research abroad and in the original language. Students interested in politics and diplomacy should be pushed heavily to take foreign langauges. The US Department of State has itself admitted time and time again that it is weak when it comes to languages and that this poses a major problem for American diplomacy. Business students should already know that most of the growth potential for American businesses are already overseas. While businesses heading to Russia may be less durring the current political downturn, businesses are still underserved by the number of graduates with foreign language experience. In addition, business students who can serve and excel in an internship abroad in a location like Russia, which is percieved as exotic and difficult, have stronger, more interesting resumes than those with only local experience. Even math and science students can often be sold on the prospects of being able to work across continents or having increased value to organizations with international reach - such as NASA.
  • Don't Need. Offer.
    Crossmarketing with other departments thus can be a great way to expand your program and make others' programs more practical in a global world. But how do you approach the other departments? Ask yourself first what exactly you need from them. People are much more likely to act if presented with a specific plan with little or no decision making (beyond yes or no). Even if discussion or more development would be needed, a specific plan is more thought-provoking and much more constructive place to start this process. Then, the next step is to ask yourself what these people will gain by giving you what you want. Your proposal should be presented not in terms of what you want, but the partnership you offer.
  • Первый блин всегда комом.
    If you start a new outreach project and it doesn't do so well the first time or even the first couple of times, don't worry about it. Learn from what you've experienced and keep moving forward. Organizations and traditions take time to develop and need nurturing. Think of them like children: have patience, keep plugging, and continually ask yourself what you should do to improve. Another deterrent to marketing is the fear of rejection or of appearing naïve. This will happen. Accept it. Keep trying. It's a natural part of the learning curve - the same curve faced by anyone learning a foreign language. Eventually you will find a style of asking for what you want that works for you, and after a couple of successes, you will gain the confidence to do it more often.


Selected Programs Abroad:
   Study Abroad
in Russia!

   Study Abroad
in Russia!


6. Build Practical, Fun Programs   (Back to Top)

a. Practical: 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. Fun: Play Games
Using classtime for unorthodox methods - such as playing educational games - can boost learning by getting students to use more areas of their brain. It can also have a knock-on effect for programs by getting students to talk about unique days spent in class with friends and other students - resulting in increased future enrolements.

  • Play Clue
    After students know the basics of the cases, have them play Clue in Russian. "I think that ___ killed _____ in the ____ by means of a ______," is a way to drill nominative, past tense gender agreement, animate accusative, prepositional and instrumental over and over and over again. For additional cultural instruction, you might use a print out of a typical Russian apartment or typical Soviet communal apartment layout plan and change the character cards to feature famous Russians.
  • Have Races
    Teach your students to type in Russian by giving them addresses to type into Yandex maps. Who names the landmark at that location first - wins! 
  • Play Trolley
    Using masking tape, make a space on the floor just big enough for all students to squeeze in. Teach them how one would buy a ticket and give them a "map" with the trolley stops. Assign each a stop to exit the trolley on. You, or a select student, should announce the current stop and each upcoming stop. When the student's stop is coming up, they must say "Вы сейчас выходите?" and make their way up to the exit in time.
  • Name Games
    You call a "theme" (like "cooking" or "outside") and students must name something related to that theme. No item may be repeated (writing them down on the board - or having the students write them) is a good way to keep track and a good way to reinforce the vocabulary that students may be learning from eachother. For added challenge, make the topics more narrow - or give an additional challenge like the named items must start with a letter contained in the student's Russian name.
  • Game Tournaments
    , BarkingCollege,, and all offer template games and resources that can be adapted for your classroom and material. Simpler games can also be found online - such as hangman where you can potentially pit students against eachother by seeing who can complete the most games in a specific time period. You can also just bring a deck of cards and teach them a game like durak or 1000.


C. Fun and Practical: Involve and Encourage Students 

  • 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. 
  • 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.

  • 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. Pair second or third-year students with incoming students - make it a course requirement if you can. Present the tutors with certificates at the end of the course that can be listed on resumes. This will also help build a community of students interested in Russian at your university by encouraging interaction between the individual students. This can bolster your Russian club, boost students discussing your course, and generally strengthen student experience and learning.

  • 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. Temple University offers an Olympiada for highschool students each year. 

  • Throw Parties! Many colleges and universities already have International Festivals of some sort. Organize beginning language mini-seminars, Russian food booths, and other displays of Russian language and culture. If your institution does not have such a festival, approach the student government about starting one – they are often quite popular. Make sure invitations go out to your community, local schools, and businesses. Russian Culture Week at Brandeis University is already an annual event, with dramatic productions, food, song, films, and more. This issue of the CLEAR newsletter also deals with festival planning.

  • Guerrilla Warfare. If you have students who are willing take risks, consider guerrilla theatre. Have your students learn a short, active scene in Russian – then perform it once or twice in a public place (like the Student Union). Afterwards, make sure you have someone explain to the crowd that gathered that it was Russian they just saw and that classes are available. Combining an activity like this with a follow-up (such a campus speaker or mini-seminar) can be the most effective. Consider asking someone from the theatre department for assistance in directing. 


About SRAS:

7. Form Partnerships and Networks   (Back to Top)

a.  Formulate Classes or Seminars with Other Departments
One of the best ways to overcome perceptions of foreign languages as superfluous is to simply go to students and educators them and tell them that that perception is wrong. 

  • 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 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. 
  • 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 to allow 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. 

b.  Guest Speakers. Having interesting and knowledgeable people come to your campus to speak on modern Russian politics and economics, US-Russia relations, aspects of modern Russian history, working in Russia, etc. can be a good way to make your courses more practical (by having them speak to your class) or, better, to generate interest (by making it an open event advertised to other applicable departments and around campus). Make sure you make the most of it by introducing the speaker as sponsored by your department and by having fliers about any Russia-related programs the university offers on hand. SRAS has many interviews with such experts online - these might be of value in generating ideas.

c.  Phone Bridges. Simply using the phone can help create new incentives for learning and using what is learned in the classroom. It can also give the students real experience in using and hearing the language. It works well for universities, high schools, and grade schools.


Featured: SRAS's Free
Language Resources

Free Russian Lessons Language

Recommended free texts,
audio, video,
and interactive resources for students!


SRAS Eurasian CookbookEurasian

Recipes from Eurasian countries in language lessons with words and phrases associated with preparing and enjoying the food!


Politics in TranslationPolitics in Translation
Russian political platforms and other documents in (usually) side-by-side translation. Build advanced vocabulary skills in modern political rhetoric!


Free Russian TestingTesting 
Free TORFL practice exams, as well as verbs of motion, grammar and vocabulary quizzes. Educators may make special accounts to track how their students do.


Olga's BlogMini-

Short texts describing modern Russian life in English. Russian vocabulary and phrases worked in to help build vocabulary!


d.  Sister City Programs.  Encouraging your city to adopt a Russian sister city can be a good way to spark interest in your community. Just make sure you continue to use the program - encourage local media to cover events, encourage radio and TV stations to make room for Russia-related programing, and encourage events within local schools. If people from your sister city travel to yours, make sure they meet with not only the usual local dignitaries, but with college Russian classes and local school children to talk about their language, local city, and culture. Find out more from

e.  Foreign Culture Days. As a once-a-semester activity, coordinate "Russian Culture Days" with local K-12 schools. You could increase the value of this for the school by partnering with other language departments and offer a range of languages and cultures. Involve your students in presenting the basic concept of foreign languages (some children might have very little experience with it), and teach them some basic phrases (my name is… I love you… etc.) This will have the added benefit of making your program more practical by giving your students pedagogy experience. Older students can be exposed to some basic grammatical concepts and a wider knowledge of Russian history and culture. Taking kids and teachers some blini and borsch will also likely endear them to your subject. You can also apply this to educating the educators at local schools how to present Russian-themed material. The American Translators Association give lots of information and advice on how to organize school outreach events. Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh organized a workshop for high school teachers interested in using Russian literature in teaching Russian history. View the PowerPoint presentation here.

f.  Summer Programs.  Some universities offer summer camp type programs for science and math – often framing it with a concept that kids like (like space flight). Usually, local kids enroll and spend a few hours at the university each day and go home for dinner and bed.  Developing camps for foreign languages would be a good way to follow up on "Russian Days."  You can decrease your costs and the time needed by partnering with another language department and perhaps the history and even theatre programs.  Most parents are willing to pay a little to get the kids out of the house and into worth-while summer programs.

g.  Encourage International Campuses. Encouraging foreign students and professors to come to your campus can often result in increased awareness and interest in studying foreign cultures. Fulbright offers funding for foreign scholars and lecturers.

h.  Broadcast Culture. Approach your campus radio station, television stations, and theatre departments (or even those in the community) about helping them deliver more Russia-focused programming. Having expert advice in selecting and presenting material is most often highly desirable.   

i.  Russian Food Days. Most everyone likes borsch, pelmeni, and blini.  Approach your school cafeteria about hosting international days. Make sure to use the event to your advantage by having fliers on hand explaining the food, perhaps with information about its history and cultural relevance – and that more information is available from your classes. Find more ideas in SRAS' Eurasian Cookbook.


8. Encourage Study Abroad   (Back to Top)

Students who study abroad for a summer or semester are often the best "proselytizers" for a program by exciting them about language use and another culture. Plus, study abroad adds to program practicality by giving students 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. Your institution can recieve additional benifits as a SRAS partner or affiliate - including scholarship funds, discounts, custom programs, or travel funds for site visits for representatives from your institution. We have some big, attactive posters and materials that can show your students where and what they can study abroad - and why they should study abroad. If you have any questions concerning these possibilities, contact us


9. Advocacy Groups and Sites   (Back to Top)
Advocacy is most effective for growth and prevention, not  treatment! Don't wait for the axe to start falling... grow and promote your programs now! It will serve you well in the future. 

Selected Programs Abroad:
  Russian Far East

a. With Statistics!

Modern Language Association compiles periodic enrolment statistics for language programs with analysis.

Education for Global Leadership is a 2006 publication from the US government's Committee on Economic Development. It is a sixty-nine page pdf file full of arguments on why US universities must teach students to understand foreign languages and foreign cultures if the US economy is to competitive in global markets.

SRAS FAQ has lots of information about how languages are rated according to difficulty (including stats from the Department of Education, Department of Defence, Council of Europe, and more.

The Committee on College and Pre-College Russian (CCPCR) offers a large database of well-maintained statistics, complete with contact information for reporting schools.

CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) offers a list of high schools and grade schools offering Russian and other Less-Commonly-Taught Languages.

The National Directory of Early Foreign Language Programs provides information on early learning language programs in the US from 1998.

The Association of Departments of Foreign Language (ADFL) did a survey of enrollment for undergraduate foreign language programs in 2002. Check their resources page for other interesting statistics.

Ethnologue is an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s 6,912 known living languages. Unfortunately, its information is often dated and incomplete, but there's an awful lot to work with here. See their entry for Russian.

b. More Advocacy Resources

SRAS offers posters and booklets to show not only what can be studied abroad in Russia - but also why students should study Russia, Central Asia, and the rest of Eurasia.

The SRAS Sound Bites Project brings you bite-sized arguments for funding and maintaining Russian programs. Most are a bit dated - but still their arguments are still applicable.

700 Reasons to Learn a Language from Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton.

AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages) offers advocacy resources and more.

US Global Competence is a government-supported initiative to help ensure that the US stays competitive in the global spheres of economics and diplomacy.

NYSAFLT has compiled several documents that will help you support the foreign language advocacy conversation with your regional and state elected officials.

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is the world's leading trade association for the language industry. They have information about how language is used in international business. 

Noble, the Network of Business Langauge Educators, provides considerable advocacy resources on its site. advances the idea that Americans must have the opportunity to learn and use English and at least one other language. is a joint project by AATSEEL and ACTR to argue for the practicality of learning Russian.

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is the world's largest association for the language industry. As a non-profit organization, we provide resources, education, knowledge and research for thousands of global companies.

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