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High school students hone skills at Russian language institute at Appalachian

ASU_0923_t.jpgBOONE—Russian folktales, folksongs and crafts provided a fun foundation for students attending a two-week Russian language and culture institute at Appalachian State University.

Heather Rody_t2.jpgbabushka dolls_t2.jpgHeather Rody from Great Falls, Va., paints a babushka doll during the “Discover the World of Russian Fairy Tales,” a Russian language and culture program for high school students held at Appalachian State University.

group of fourteen students_t2.jpgFourteen students from across North Carolina and Virginia attended a two-week Russian language and culture program at Appalachian State University. The institute was funded by the U.S. National Security Agency’s StarTalk program, designed to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning and speaking critical languages, such as Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. National Security Agency’s StarTalk program, the institute attracted students from Virginia and North Carolina who were able to attend the immersion Russian language and culture program free of charge. The StarTalk program strives to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching critical-need foreign languages that aren’t widely taught in the United States, such as Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

The participants include students with limited Russian language experience to those who take classes online through the N.C. Virtual High School. Part of their instruction included learning and singing Russian folksongs, reading Russian folktales, like “Little Round Bun,” which is similar to the folktale “Gingerbread Man,” painting Russian nesting or babushka dolls and other activities.

Sarah Coats, a rising junior at Greene Central High School in Snow Hill, was one of the institute’s participants. She became interested in learning Russian after hearing a college friend of her sister’s speak the language.  Coats said she liked the sound made by the combination of certain words. For example, the phrase I love apples, has a rhythmic quality in Russian (ya lyubyu ya-bla-ka).

Speaking multiple languages is part of Shyanne Kiekenapp’s family tradition. Her mother speaks five languages and has encouraged Kiekenapp to become multilingual. Kiekenapp will attend Davie County High School this fall.

The institute was directed by Dr. Irina Barclay, an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Appalachian.  Also assisting with the institute were Alla Neshatayeva  and Olga Monfiston.

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