MIT is the recipient of a two-year STARTALK grant for developing an educational web-based resource “Choose to Study Russian for Professional Needs.”

The project led by Dr. Maria Khotimsky, Senior Lecturer in Russian, is a collaboration between Dr. Khotimsky and two Russian language educators experienced in teaching Russian for STEM: Dr. Svetlana Abramova, of the University of Washington; and Dr. Veronika Egorova of Harvard University.

The project will develop an open access educational multimedia resource that highlights Russian language use in a variety of STEM-related and public service fields to prepare students for careers as global professionals in IT and Cybersecurity, Public Health, Economics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Environmental and Energy Studies, and Aerospace Engineering. This resource will allow Russian-language students to delve into different content areas where Russian language proficiency plays an important role and provide them with a vision of job and career development opportunities. The target audience for this resource will be high school and college students, Russian language instructors, and program administrators.

As Dr. Abramova explains: “Students often expect their instructors to advocate for studying languages. In this project, they can see a diversity of points of view and perspectives on education and career tracks in different fields and hear not a single instructor’s voice, but a polyphony of voices in Russian, sharing insights on pursuing superior proficiency level in the study of language and career path in science.”

The project will incorporate a series of interviews with professionals in different fields, vocabulary games and practice activities, along with supplementary materials for promoting language study.

Dr. Egorova points out: “The majority of our students who study Russian are STEM majors, however, there is a lack of STEM-themed materials in the Russian language pedagogy field. I hope that this resource will address our students’ academic interests and professional needs and provide additional motivation to continue studying Russian.”

The website is expected to go live in summer 2023.

This project will be a crucial step in developing more pedagogical materials for XXI-century language proficiency, attuned to different fields. Dr. Khotimsky comments that this project will be a useful pedagogical resource in her teaching Russian for STEM, a new course offered at Global Languages in fall 2021.

STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The STARTALK mission is to increase the number of students enrolled in the study of critical-need foreign languages in K-16, as well as the number of highly effective teachers of those languages, and to create state of the art programs, materials, and curricula that exemplify best teaching practices.