Russian Language Program

Dr. Alla Smyslova, Director
as2157@columbia.edu

Добро пожаловать! Welcome to the Russian Language Program at Columbia University!

Russian is an eastern Slavic language native to Russia. The Russian language dates from the early 10th century AD, the time of its earliest known writings. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet as its writing system. Today, the Russian language is Europe’s largest native language and the world’s seventh largest language by number of speakers. Approximately 260 million people speak Russian, and out of these, about 150 million are native speakers. It is one of the official languages for Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.  Russian is one of the official languages of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, International Olympic Committee, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The Russian language program at Columbia University offers four levels of Russian and a variety of content courses in Russian focusing on different areas of interest: literature, history, and Russian society today. During the summer months, we offer the Russian Practicum, where students can study Russian intensively and complete the equivalent of two semesters of instruction in eight weeks  time.

We are particularly proud of the course dedicated to meet the unique needs of Russian Heritage Speakers. In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in its report Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, identified the course Russian for Heritage Speakers at Columbia University as a pedagogical model that can be adopted elsewhere in the US and applied to the teaching of other heritage languages.

The Russian language program is committed to meeting the needs of all learners and to helping them reach their individual goals in language proficiency. To this end, the program relies on the expertise of its instructors, their engagement with pedagogical research, and their knowledge of innovations in second language acquisition theory. 

Our undergraduate program of study is nationally renowned. Since 2003, many students in our program participate in the ACTR National Post-Secondary Russian Essay contest, and without fail they  receive  numerous awards, including gold, silver and bronze medals (check lists of awardees 2018, 2019, 2020). Additionally, every year the outstanding senior “who best embodies an enthusiasm for and love of things Russian” is awarded national recognition and becomes the ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate.

We are very proud of the past and continued success of our students!

Taking courses in Russian will allow you to fulfill the language requirement at Columbia.

Language placement (general information)

The Department offers the Russian placement test on Wednesday (written part) and Thursday (oral part) the week before the first day of classes in the fall to register for fall classes. Please make your traveling plans accordingly. Students who wish to take a Russian placement test at any other time in the fall to register for spring semester, who need a reading proficiency exam, or who have particular questions about placing into/out of Russian language courses including heritage courses, should contact Alla Smyslova Subject line: Placement Test.

Please make your travel plans accordingly.

Questions? Contact Alla Smyslova as2157@columbia.edu

Russian Placement Test – Fall 2020

The Russian placement test consists of two parts – written (grammar and essay—about two hours) and oral (a 20-minute long interview). This year, both parts are administered remotely via zoom The written part will be offered on Friday, August 28 at 1:00-3:00 Follow-up oral interviews will be held on Monday, August 31 You need to sign-up for the interview. See links below for both meetings and the sign-up sheet.

Questions? Contact Alla Smyslova as2157@columbia.edu

Written part

Friday, August 28 at 1:00-3:00

Zoom meeting    

https://columbiauniversity.zoom.us/j/5498027826 

Meeting ID 549 802 7826

Written part: instructions and structure here

Oral interviews

Monday, August 31

Sign-up sheet is available here 

Zoom meeting

https://columbiauniversity.zoom.us/j/5498027826  

Meeting ID 549 802 7826

A score of 5 on the AP/NEWL Russian exam satisfies the foreign language requirement. Upon successful completion of a 3-point 3000-level (or higher) course at Columbia, the Department of Slavic Languages will award 3 points of AP credit, provided the grade in the course is a B or better. Courses taught in English may not be used to earn AP credit.  No credit or placement is given for the SAT II Subject Test. If you wish to continue with Russian at Columbia, you should take the departmental placement test and speak with the Russian program director prior to registration to ensure proper placement.

Heritage speakers of Russian are students who are born to Russian-speaking parents and get their education in a different language, in case of the US it is English.

The two-semester course dedicated to Russian heritage speakers is designed for heritage speakers who were either born in or arrived at the USA at a pre-school age, and have not yet learned to read or write or have limited reading and writing skills in Russian. For more effective instruction, the course is based on utilizing heritage speaker strength—well-developed aural skills—to develop their much weaker—literacy--skills in a fast and effective way.

In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in its report Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, identified the course Russian for Heritage Speakers at Columbia University as a pedagogical model that can be adopted elsewhere in the US and applied to the teaching of other heritage languages.

UN3430-3431 Russian for Heritage Speakers course meets a two-year foreign language requirement.

"Summer 2015: Exploring Brighton Neighborhood"
"Advanced Russian Group, July 2017"
"Students and instructors, summer 2019"

ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Award 

Perry Young  2020
Stephanie Borgani   2019
Maria Matilde Morales  2018
Rebecca Mahany  2017
Max Lawton   2016
Cole Hickman   2015
James Reyes  2014
Jessica Tyler  2013
Philip Crandall  2012
Michael Mirochnik  2011
Thomas M. Davis  2010
Sasha Lauren de Vogel  2009
John Tilden King  2008
Paul Sonne  2007