Teaching K-12 Students About Eastern Europe and Russia

The Center for Slavic and East European Studies and the Columbus North International School (CNIS) have teamed up for the second year to offer high school students the opportunity to learn Russian and study Eastern European culture. The Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures (DSEELC) also supports the program, providing classroom support for Russian language courses and other opportunities for the students to explore the possibilities of studying Russian at the collegiate level. 

The students receive language instruction three times a week from certified Russian teacher, Jen Philip, while Kathryn Metz engages the students in a study of Eastern European culture on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Three students participated in the class last year when it was offered, and three new students have entered the course and are excited to learn about an area of the world and a language that they had little knowledge of prior to enrolling in the course.

While last year, the cultural component of the course greatly emphasized the early-modern history of Eastern Europe and Russia, this year the content will be geared toward the arts and humanities. The students have been learning about Balkan folk music and have enjoyed listening to the melancholic sevdalinka songs from Bosnia, while they were quite turned off by the wailing sound of ganga music. 

In the Russian class, Jen Philip has the challenge of teaching two different levels of Russian language learners in the same classroom. While two students are working on reviewing verb conjugation, the Russian case system, and learning new vocabulary, the four level one learners are practicing the Cyrillic alphabet, learning how to introduce themselves, becoming familiar with Russian names, and learning vocabulary for classroom items.

Philip is thrilled with the progress the students are making. According to her, “every day, the students come into the classroom ready to add on a little more knowledge and use of the Russian language. Russian words and phrases are heard all around the room both during and after classroom activities. The enthusiasm for their language learning is exciting to watch.”

This year, through a partnership with the Columbus International Program, the students are collaborating with Russian students at Lingua, a secondary school in Surgut, Russia. Twice a month, the CNIS students will spend a class period Skyping with Lingua students in an opportunity to practice their Russian and learn more about Russian culture from their peers. Through this collaboration, the students will be able to meet in the spring of 2018 while the Russian students come to Ohio for a visit. 

CSEES and DSEELC are coordinating a visit to Ohio State to include the students in a Russian class and an Eastern European cultural course to help the students realize how they can pursue Russian and East European studies at the university level.

Continuing the partnership with CNIS is strengthening CSEES’ outreach program and fulfilling the mission of promoting the knowledge and understanding of Eastern Europe and Eurasia throughout Ohio.