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Russian Language Studies

Offered in Washington DC and SAIS Europe

The Russian Program is a professionally-oriented program for graduate students of Russian international and domestic politics, socioeconomics and national security. Courses are offered at all levels, from Novice through Novice-High, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate-Mid and more advanced post-proficiency levels.

The two Novice levels introduce and practice basic Russian grammar and vocabulary used to meet “survival” needs. At the Intermediate-Low level, students will be gradually introduced to some professionally-relevant vocabulary and more complex grammar structures. At the Intermediate-Mid levels students will focus on the specific language that they will need in their professional fields of expertise. At the Intermediate-High and Advanced levels, all language skills are expanded through materials of greater complexity, and content includes highly diversified themes connected with areas of professional interest.


Novice Low (Level 1)
This level is designed for students to acquire the language skills that will allow them to communicate and survive in everyday life. Daily vocabulary and basic structures will be introduced and practiced upon through relevant role plays. The course introduces basic Russian grammar and survival vocabulary.
Novice High (Level 2)
This level strengthens the language skills needed to survive in daily life, while continuing to expand on basic Russian grammar and daily vocabulary. Students will be engaged in role-plays and meaningful conversations pertaining to their immediate daily needs. By the end of this course, students should be able to ask/obtain relevant information, also by browsing through short newspapers articles.
Intermediate Low (Level 3)
This level expands students’ basic language skills and vocabulary while reinforcing and strengthening grammar. Students will also be gradually introduced to some professionally-relevant vocabulary and more complex language functions such as those of describing and narrating. Students are exposed to elements of speaking, listening, and reading of different political/economic/security issues as found in the news. 
Intermediate Mid 1 (Level 4)
The course is meant to refine some of the structures acquired in the three lower levels, to introduce more complex discourse, and to expose students to the vocabulary of current issues in international affairs. This level continues to strengthen the grammar and the vocabulary in speaking, listening, and reading of different political/economic/security issues as found in the media. Typical classroom activities will include presentations of current events and brief follow-up discussions.


Intermediate Mid 2 (Level 5)

At this level, the specialized language skills are further expanded. This course largely consists of language for specific purposes as defined by the students’ professional fields of interest. Listening materials consist of extended newscasts and recordings from speeches or the Web. Reading materials include feature-length articles on politics, international relations, and current events. Typical classroom activities include simulations, debates, and political discussions.
In post-proficiency courses after the Intermediate Mid 2 level, students will continue to expand their specialized vocabulary while refining their accuracy and clarity. All language skills will be developed accordingly. Comprehension in reading and listening of authentic materials will grow in length and substance. Students will focus on cultural and political aspects of the Russian speaking world. Language production in speaking and writing will be enriched with more elements of paragraphed speech during simulations, debates, and presentations. 
Proficiency exams in Russian consist of three separate sections: Listening Comprehension, Oral Expression, and Reading Comprehension.
In order to pass the exams, students need to obtain the following levels in each language skill:

Listening: Intermediate Mid
Speaking: Intermediate Mid
Reading: Intermediate Mid

Students who pass the Russian proficiency examination upon arrival at the school or after their first or second semester are encouraged to continue their language learning by enrolling in post-proficiency courses. Post-proficiency courses are offered only to groups of five or more.
PhD students who concentrate in Russian and Eurasian Studies will need to achieve proficiency in Russian. Other PhD students in European and Eurasian Studies can use the Russian reading proficiency exam to meet their second foreign language graduation requirement.