Russian Language Immersion Program readies students to study in Russia

Now in its second year, the Russian Immersion Program at CSUN readies 12 students for their trip to Moscow next year. Photo by Shant Kazandjian
Now in its second year, the Russian Immersion Program at CSUN readies 12 students for their trip to Moscow next year. Photo by Shant Kazandjian

The Russian Language Immersion Program at CSUN is a component of the federally funded Southern California Consortium of California State Universities for the Strategic Language

Initiative (SLI). Students in the six-week program receive in-class language instruction and participate in cultural activities in Russian after class, totaling nine hours a day. The program includes language instruction, group activities, projects, online and individualized learning, guest lectures and field trips. When the students first join the SLI program, they must choose an independent field study project. The project relates to the students’ major and future professional goals.

“We have 12 students in the class. [The students] have two types of classes that they take from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. everyday,” said Dr. Oleg Minin. “They take contemporary Russian grammar class, which I teach, as well as a conversation class in the Russian language. One of the principal objectives of this program is to train them very well in the target language so that they can apply this knowledge in their future endeavors.”

After the six weeks of class in summer, the students continue to engage in language development activities, including face-to-face, mentoring, tutorial and online coursework during the 10-month academic year. Consistent tracking of student progress and feedback is provided weekly.

When the academic year is completed, the students participate in a study abroad program in Moscow designed to further advance the students’ language proficiency and broaden their cross-cultural experience. Upon return, each student will make a formal presentation of the portfolio or report in Russian.

Computer science, journalism, mathematics and political science are just some of the majors in which the 12 students are getting their degrees. Coordinator Dina Mokhantkin hopes the students who study abroad in Moscow will have contact with people in their future profession.

“The focus is to have the students know the Russian language in a professional level,” said Mokhantkin. “They will be able to work and to use this language to learn the way different kinds of Russian businesses work, different kinds. The variety [of majors] gives us the idea that the students will use this knowledge in the future in their professions.”

Santa Monica College student Julio Cesar Perez hopes to continue his studies at UCLA in the fall and feels very lucky to be in the program.

“My major is political science with a concentration on international relations,” said Perez. “My overall goal is to go to law school and maybe work for the government in some way. This is a great opportunity to see Russia, to know not just the language but the culture.”

Santa Monica College student Mark Myers majors in Russian and wants to be fluent in the language.

“I want to be fluent to [the point] where I could watch movies without having to look at subtitles,” said Myers. “And I definitely want to go to Russia. I think this program is pretty cool. ”

Students from last summer’s program will be leaving for Moscow July 4, 2009.