Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP)

One of the oldest and most respected overseas Russian immersion programs available to students today, RLASP is designed to improve participants' oral, listening, reading, and writing proficiency in Russian language and to develop their knowledge of Russian history, politics, culture, and society.

Summary

RLASP serves both graduate and undergraduate students as well as working professionals. The academic year, semester, and summer programs provide approximately 20 hours per week of in-class instruction in Russian grammar, phonetics, conversation, and cultural studies at Moscow International University, the Russian State Pedagogical University (Herzen Institute) in St. Petersburg, and the KORA Center for Russian Language in Vladimir. In the fall of 2014, American Councils also launched RLASP at Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan for students who wish to study Russian in an immersion environment but are unable to travel to Russia due to funding restrictions or other concerns.

Program features include homestays, weekly excursions, travel to other regions of Russia, conversation partners, and a wide range of opportunities to pursue internships, volunteering, hobbies and personal interests in a Russian context. Content courses for area studies credit are offered in subjects such as Russian literature and history, political science, and contemporary Russian society. All courses are taught in Russian by expert faculty with experience teaching foreign students.

One day per week of the academic program is set aside for local cultural excursions. Excursions and travel include major sites such as art galleries and churches, but also include destinations off the beaten path. Students also participate on an extended regional field studies outside their host city.

Participants have the option of living with host families or in university dormitories. Host families provide private rooms and engage students in conversation and culture. All participants receive two meals per day.

American Councils conducts an informative pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. and an in-country orientation upon each group's arrival. Full-time, expert resident directors are available to assist participants abroad. Additionally, participants receive comprehensive overseas medical
insurance for the duration of the program.

Please note, Vladimir will not be offered as a site location for the Summer 2015 program.

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Academics

Academics

Academic Program

American Councils semester, academic year, and summer programs maximize linguistic and cultural immersion into Russian society. All programs feature approximately twenty hours per week of in-class instruction; roughly sixteen hours of which are dedicated to Russian-language study. Students are placed according to proficiency level in groups of three-to-five for language classes. Core Russian language classes include Russian Conversation, Phonetics, Russian Grammar, and Lexical Studies. Area studies offerings include (but are not limited to) Studies in Mass Media, Russian Literature, Russian History and Politics, and Contemporary Russian Society; all area studies and literature courses are taught in Russian.

Host University Faculty

All courses are conducted by host university faculty with extensive experience in teaching Russian as a foreign language to American students. Faculty at our partner universities also attend regular development seminars sponsored by American Councils and led by U.S. experts in Russian-language pedagogy. Recent seminars have addressed American academic culture, the American idea of a liberal arts education, student-centered learning, and communicative teaching strategies.

Honors Program and Auditing Classes

Academic year and semester students with GPAs of 3.3 or higher, advanced language skills, and outstanding recommendations may be nominated by the selection committee to be honors students. As honors students, program participants may substitute regular courses at their Russian host university for the American Councils area studies offerings. The selection committee must nominate all honors students. This feature depends significantly upon university schedules and the readiness of individual faculty to accommodate American students whose schedules require early completion of the class. With guidance from the resident director, it is the responsibility of each individual honors student to locate a viable class and obtain permission from the instructor to attend. All academic year and semester RLASP participants are encouraged to audit regular university classes. In recent years, RLASP participants completed courses at their host universities in Art History, Mathematics, Sociology, Theater Studies, Russian History, Psychology and Literature.

Research Papers

Academic year participants with advanced Russian skills may substitute an independent research project for one of the American Councils area studies courses while continuing their language classes during the second semester. Research projects culminate in a 15- to 20-page research paper written in Russian. Research projects require extensive work in libraries and archives and should be undertaken only after careful consultation with resident directors and faculty both in the U.S. and Russia.

Recent participants in the academic year RLASP program have completed research projects on topics such as Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Russian theater, Russian attitudes towards the Caucasus, nationalism in music history, the acquisition of listening skills in Russian, and contemporary urban youth movements.


Courses

Courses

Semester Program


Russian 350/550 | Advanced Conversation, Phonetics and Intonation | (1.5/1 Units)
Focuses on the acquisition and activation of new vocabulary. The course covers a series of frequent conversational themes and situations from daily life, including personal traits, art and culture, and current events. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. The course is also designed to develop students' acquisition of phonetic accuracy through oral presentations, practical training in the language lab, and individualized work. Special attention is given to addressing individual student needs. Regular written quizzes and one written final.

Russian 360/560 | Advanced Grammar and Lexical Study | (1.5/1 Units)
Close analysis of verbs of motion, verbal aspect, word order, and lexical groups. Emphasis is placed on the verbal activation of all material. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. Regular written quizzes and one written final. Course also provides an introduction to Russian linguistics. Topics of study include nominal morphological categories, word formation, syntactical structures, and stylistics.

Russian 338/538 | Contemporary Russian Society | (0.5 Units)
Analyzes the political and economic systems of Russia and the independent states of the former Soviet Union. The course focuses on the current situation in Eurasia and its historical roots. Special attention is given to the study of political and economic reform during the transition era. An important linguistic element of the course focuses on the mass media and the specialized vocabulary of the Russian press. Students are required to make short in-class presentations, actively participate in discussions, and analyze newspaper articles, films, and newscasts about current events.

Russian 348/548 | Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature | (0.5 Units)
Offers a survey of Russian and Soviet Literature. Authors such as Bulgakov, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Pushkin, Shukshin, Solzhenitsyn, and Tolstoy are read and discussed. Students are assigned readings from novels, short stories, and poetry. Oral presentations and written assignments are a regular part of the curriculum.


Academic-Year Program

FALL SEMESTER

Russian 375/575 | Speech Practicum I | (1.5/1 Units)
Focuses on the acquisition and activation of new vocabulary. The course covers a series of frequent conversational themes and situations from daily life, including personal traits, art and culture, and current events. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. The course is also designed to develop command of contemporary Russian phonetics and the intonational system, emphasizing the practical acquisition of phonetic accuracy through oral presentations, practical training in the language lab, and individualized work. Special attention is given to addressing individual student needs. Regular written quizzes and one written final.

Russian 385/585 | Research and Analysis of Modern Russian I | (1.5/1 Units)
Close analysis of verbs of motion, verbal aspect, word order, and lexical groups. Emphasis is placed on the verbal activation of all material. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. Regular quizzes and one written final. Course also provides an introduction to Russian linguistics. Topics of study include nominal morphological categories, word formation, syntactical structures, and stylistics.

Russian 338/538** | Contemporary Russian Society | (0.5 Units)
Analyzes the political and economic systems of Russia and the independent states of the former Soviet Union. The course focuses on the current situation in Eurasia and its historical roots. Special attention is given to the study of political and economic reform during the transition era. An important linguistic element of the course focuses on the mass media and the specialized vocabulary of the Russian press. Students are required to make short in-class presentations, actively participate in discussions, and analyze newspaper articles, films, and newscasts about current events.

Russian 391/591** | Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature | (0.5 Units)
Offers a survey of Russian and Soviet literature. Authors such as Bulgakov, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Pushkin, Shukshin, Solzhenitsyn, and Tolstoy are read and discussed. Students are assigned readings from novels, short stories, and poetry. Oral presentations and written assignments are a regular part of the curriculum.


**Please note that students studying at Herzen in St. Petersburg will receive either 1.0 credits for Russian 338/538 OR 1.0 credits for Russian 391/591, depending on which elective course they choose.


SPRING SEMESTER

Russian 376/576 | Speech Practicum II | (1.5/1 Units)
This course is a continuation of RUSS 375. It focuses on the acquisition and activation of new vocabulary and covers a series of frequent conversational themes and situations from daily life: personal traits, art and culture, and current events. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. The course is also designed to develop command of contemporary Russian phonetics and the intonational system. Emphasis is placed on the practical acquisition of phonetic accuracy through oral presentations, practical training in the language lab, and individualized work.

Russian 386/586 | Research and Analysis of Modern Russian II | (1.5/1 Units)
This course is a continuation of RUSS 385. It provides a close analysis of verbs of motion, verbal aspect, word order, and lexical groups. Emphasis is placed on the verbal activation of all material. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions.

Russian 347/547** | Russian History and Culture | (0.5 Units)
This course is a continuation of Russian 338. It provides an analysis of the historical and political systems of Russia and Eurasia, and their impact on contemporary Russian culture. Special attention is given to the study of current political and economic reform during the transition era. An important linguistic element of the course focuses on the mass media and the specialized vocabulary of the Russian press. Students are required to make short in-class presentations, actively participate in discussions, and analyze newspaper articles, films, and newscasts about current events.

Russian 393/593** | Research and Analysis of Russian Literature II | (0.5 Units)
A continuation of RUSS 391, this course offers a survey of Russian and Soviet literature. Authors such as Bulgakov, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Pushkin, Shukshin, Solzhenitsyn, and Tolstoy are read and discussed. Students are assigned readings from novels, short stories, and poetry. Oral presentations and written assignments are a regular part of the curriculum.

Russian 339/539 | Major Field Elective: Independent Research Project | (1.0 Unit)
Academic Year participants may conduct independent research in place of Russian 392 and Russian 393. Students who choose this option are assigned a faculty adviser in their field of study to guide them in readings and research. Students must complete a fifteen to twenty-page paper in Russian by the end of the second semester and meet weekly with advisers. All research projects must be approved by the student's adviser and resident director during the first semester.


**Please note that students studying at Herzen in St. Petersburg will receive either 1.0 credits for Russian 347/547 OR 1.0 credits for Russian 393/593, depending on which elective course they choose.


Summer Program


Russian 320/515 | Intensive Conversation | (1.0 Unit)
Focuses on the acquisition and activation of new vocabulary. The course covers a series of frequent conversational themes and situations from daily life, including personal traits, art and culture, and current events. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions. The course is also designed to develop students' command of contemporary Russian phonetics and the intonational system, emphasizing the practical acquisition of phonetic accuracy through oral presentations, practical training in the language lab, and individualized work.

Russian 330/525 | Intensive Grammar | (1.0 Unit)
Close analysis of verbs of motion, verbal aspect, word order, and lexical groups. Emphasis is placed on the verbal activation of all material. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, dialogues, and debates, as well as to prepare oral presentations and write short compositions.


Please Note: One Bryn Mawr undergraduate academic unit is equivalent to four undergraduate semester credit hours. One Bryn Mawr graduate academic credit is equivalent to five graduate semester credit hours.


Due to differences in the Russian and American academic systems, Bryn Mawr course titles often encompass several specialized Russian classes. For instance, the Bryn Mawr course Russian 350, Advanced Conversation, Phonetics and Intonation is actually comprised of three separate classes at our Russian partner universities: one in phonetics, one in speech, and one in phraseology. Students' grades in each of these individual courses are weighted and averaged together in order to calculate one final grade for the Bryn Mawr course.


To hear more about the academic experience for students, see our video featuring RLASP alumni.
Tutoring

Tutoring

Peer Tutoring

In 2000, American Councils established a peer-tutoring program for all RLASP participants. Students have the chance to meet for two hours per week with tutors recruited from the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language at their host universities (in Vladimir, peer tutors come from the Vladimir State University). In addition to valuable academic support, the peer-tutoring program provides an important opportunity for American students to meet their contemporaries in the increasingly fast-paced, cosmopolitan culture of today's Russia.
Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

Upon arrival in Russia, American Councils staff can arrange internships or community service placements for academic year and semester RLASP participants. While American Councils does not arrange formal internship placements due to the brevity of the program, summer participants are encouraged to pursue volunteer opportunities. Internship placements depend significantly on the participant's Russian-proficiency level and the needs of the Russian organization. Internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing; therefore, American Councils strongly encourages students to pursue internships and community service activities in fields which are of interest to them. American Councils asks that students realistically evaluate their time commitments while in Russia, in order to maximize the experience of an internship or community service.

Participants consistently rate their internships and community service as substantive and valuable; many former students report that their out-of-classroom experiences gave them unique insights into Russian society and language, as well as a deep sense of personal fulfillment.

Program participants have recently completed internships at the following organizations:

Academy of Sciences, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia , Anna Crisis Center for Women, AVC Advisory, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, the BCS English Institute, Best Buddies Russia, Buff Theater , Carnegie Moscow Center, Center of International Cooperation, CTC Media, Future Leaders American Corner, German Forwarding Company, Hermitage Museum, Herzen University Newsletter, Institute for Cultural Programs, International Banking Institute, Lenfilm Studios, Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow Times, Museum of the Bolshoy Theatre, Museum of the Political History of Russia, NGO Development Center, Russian State Geology Museum, the Samantha School, St. Petersburg Merchant's Club, Social Initiatives Assistance Institute, State Cultural Committee of St. Petersburg, UNAIDS, Vitrina Press, Women's Crisis Center in Vladimir.

Excursions

Excursions

Weekly Excursions

One day a week of the academic program is set aside for travel to local sites of social, cultural and historical significance. All excursions are conducted in Russian and include sites such as museums, churches, schools, research centers, municipal offices, and historical estates.

Regional Field Studies

At approximately mid-semester, resident directors arrange a week-long regional field studies trip outside of the host city. For summer participants, these regional field studies take place at the end of their program. RLASP groups have recently visited Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-na-Danu, Samara, Sochi, Suzdal, Volgograd, and Yaroslavl.

Orientations

Orientations

All RLASP participants attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of their program. Orientation sessions address health and safety, Russian academic culture, host-family life, culture shock, strategies to maximize language gain, and key survival phrases in Russian. Participants have a chance to meet and get to know their resident directors, fellow participants, and RLASP alumni during the two-day program. Students are housed in three-person rooms in a downtown hotel, a short walk from the American Councils Washington office. Each group departs with its resident director for Russia from Washington, D.C. at the end of the program. Lodging and meals are provided.

Housing

Housing

Program participants may live in a university dormitory or with a Russian host family. The majority of American Councils participants choose the host-family option. All host families provide private rooms, telephone access, and keys for their American guests. Host families also provide two meals per day. Living with a host family immerses program participants in everyday Russian life, while offering some of the comforts of home. Host families also expose participants to authentic, contemporary language and culture in informal, social settings.

All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils home-stay coordinators and resident directors. Students may change their housing arrangements during the program, although these adjustments require some time to be completed.

To hear what it's really like to live with a Russian host-family, see our video featuring RLASP alumni.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid

American Councils Funding Sources

American Councils offers a limited number of merit- and need-based scholarships for students. Students applying to the RLASP program may be eligible for scholarships from one of the following American Councils' funds:

  • Title VIII - Provided by the U.S. Department of State and administered by American Councils, Title VIII fellowships are available to participants who hold a Bachelor's degree or higher and plan to participate in the American Councils' RLASP program. Title VIII fellowships are awarded on the basis of financial need and academic merit; past awards have been made for as much as 75% of the program cost. Strong applicants for Title VIII fellowships demonstrate plans to conduct advanced research or pursue careers that will enable U.S. decision makers to better understand the region.
  • The Outbound Scholarship Fund - All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial fellowship awards from this fund. Awards are limited, and are made on the basis of financial need and academic merit.
  • The Richard Brecht Fund -This fund is open to students applying for one of American Councils' intensive Russian language programs. Awards are limited, and are made on the basis of financial need and academic merit.
  • The Sofia M. Thomson Fund -This fund is open to students applying for one of American Councils' intensive Russian language programs. Awards are limited, and are made on the basis of financial need and academic merit.

The number of awards and amount of each award depends on financial need, the number of applicants, and the program period. To apply, simply indicate your desire to be considered for financial aid in the appropriate section of the program application and complete a CSS profile, as explained in the RLASP application.

Federal Sources of Funding for Study Abroad

The National Security Education Program has funded RLASP participants in the past. For more information, visit: http://borenawards.org/

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship may be applicable to this program. The online application is available at the Gilman Program website: http://www.iie.org/gilman/

Additional Considerations

Many colleges and universities also provide financial aid for participation in American Councils programs. For more information on scholarship and funding opportunities, visit the Financial Aid page.
Dates

Dates

APPLICATION DEADLINES

  • Summer Term: February 15th
  • Fall Semester, Academic Year Program: March 15th
  • Spring Semester: October 15th


PROGRAM DATES

Please note, all participants must attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. two days prior to departure.

  • 2015 Spring: January 22 (departure for Russia) - May 19, 2015
  • 2015 Summer Program in Russia: June 11 (departure for Russia) - August 10, 2015
  • 2015 Summer Program in Almaty: June 18 (departure for Kazakhstan) - August 15, 2015
  • 2015 Fall: August 27 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - December 17, 2015
  • 2015 - 2016 Academic Year: August 27, 2015 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - May 19, 2016
  • 2016 Spring: January 21 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - May 19, 2016
Fees

Fees

Below are the program cost breakdowns for the upcoming year:

Spring 2015

Tuition:$15,100
Room and Board:    $3,000
Excursions/RFS:$800
Health Insurance:$300
Visa Fee:$300*
TOTAL:

$19,500


Summer 2015

Tuition:$5,950
Room and Board:    $1,750
Excursions/RFS:$600
Health Insurance:$150
Visa Fee:$300*
TOTAL:

$8,750


Fall 2015

Tuition:$15,100
Room and Board:    $3,000
Excursions/RFS:$800
Health Insurance:$300
Visa Fee:$300*
TOTAL:

$19,500


Academic Year 2015-16

Tuition:$27,200
Room and Board:    $6,300
Excursions/RFS:$1,600
Health Insurance:$600
Visa Fee:$300*
TOTAL:

$36,000


Program price includes housing; tuition; most meals; all group travel in Russia; insurance; orientation in Washington, D.C.; and a Russian visa.

Items not included in the program cost (per semester):
  • Domestic transportation to Washington, DC for pre-departure orientation: cost varies
  • International airfare: approximately $1,000 to $1,500 roundtrip**
  • Books and supplies: $150
  • Local transportation: $200
  • Meals (lunches) not included in the board cost: $400

*The visa fee will be waived for students who do not need a Russian visa to participate on the program (e.g. Russian passport holders). However, these students will be charged a $100 registration fee.

Please note that Russian passport holders will be expected to travel on their Russian passports and, therefore, will be treated as Russian citizens abroad. The U.S. Embassy may not be able to assist Russian passport holders if any issues or problems arise. Male Russian passport holders between the ages of 18 and 27 may encounter problems if they have not satisfied service requirements in Russia. Please see the Department of State website on dual citizenship for more information.

**Participants have the option of purchasing directly from American Councils a round-trip ticket on the flight with resident directors from Washington, DC to Russia or purchasing their own airline ticket. The pre-departure orientation held in Washington, DC immediately before the program is mandatory for all participants.

Program Deferral

For information on deferring and withdrawing, please visit our program policies webpage.