Students from The Gregory School learn Russian language from RSSS graduate student Language Teaching - Internships with Russian and Slavic Studies

July 9th, 2019

This spring Natalia Sletova, a RSSS MA Program graduate, had an opportunity to share her native language and culture with middle and high schoolers during New Subject Exploration Days at the Gregory School in Tucson. This unique opportunity became possible through the Teaching Internship Program open to all undergraduate majors in Russian and Slavic Studies and MA graduate students in UA. Dr. Liudmila Klimanova, assistant professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at UA, who coordinates 493C\593C , says that RSSS teaching internships allow the Department to build strong and sustainable ties with local schools and cultivate the love and passion for foreign languages in the community.

"In this engaged learning experience UA students get to use their acquired Russian communication skills in meaningful ways outside the classroom.  This experience serves both to highlight for them the significant value of these intercultural linguistic skills and to allow Russian Studies majors to make a meaningful contribution to our community in general and to segments of the community who, in particular, are in need of these skills.”

Ms. Joanne Abramson, a science faculty at the Gregory, says that the school is extremely fortunate to be partnered with the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies. “Our students (grades 5-12) have a deep curiosity for foreign languages.  They have stated that they love learning about Russian language and culture (they are particularly fascinated by the Cyrillic alphabet and the history of the Soviet Union) and they are grateful for the opportunity to learn from experts in the field (they absolutely loved Natalia).  In a very short time they have learned Russian phrases, how to read and pronounce the alphabet and the backstory of Дядя Фёдор, пёс и кот (a famous Russian cartoon and children’s book).” The Gregory School looks forward to continuing this partnership with RSSS in the Fall 2019 semester and plans to welcome a new teaching intern in their classrooms.

Later in the semester, Natalia was invited to give a presentation for the Global Cultures Club at Borton Magnet School  where spoke with middle-school students about the history of Russia and Russian culture. “I also taught them some basic Russian.” – Natalia wrote in her reflection paper – “I believe our interaction was successful, considering students’ interest and engagement in the conversation with me. I was really impressed to see how inquisitive middle students were, asking many questions about Russia and its people”.

Natalia feels that the teaching internship was a big achievement both for the Russian Department and for her personally. She hopes that future interns would be able to teach not only the exploratory Russian class, but also assist with regular Russian classes in Tucson middle and high schools, as the Russian Department continues to develop more partnerships, and hence more internships would become available to UA students in the Tucson community. “It has become evident to me – she wrote -  that the earlier students become acquainted with Russian and Russian culture, the more they value the importance of foreign language skills and cultural competencies in today’s global economy.  This knowledge will encourage them to continue learning Russian and other foreign languages when they become college students. I also hope that the memory of my personality and my teaching will encourage Tucson schoolers to continue to explore my native language and culture in the future.”

493C\593C “Internships in Russian language classrooms in area schools” is a 3-unit College of Humanities course experience that connects to the UA’s Community Partnership Engagement Activity to the Diversity and Identity Engagement Competency and has engagement attributes and a special notation in the UA transcript attached to it. For more information, please contact Dr. Klimanova klimanova@email.arizona.edu