The American Council of Teachers of Russian
The American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) was founded in 1974 as an association of language and area professionals involved with Russian language, literature and linguistics. Membership is open to all persons with an interest in the study and teaching of the Russian language. Since 1998 ACTR has been a division of American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, which focuses its expertise on academic exchange as well as curriculum, research, and related areas. ACTR members receive the ACTR Letter (published four times per year) and the Russian Language Journal (an annual scholarly journal), and they are eligible to enroll students in ACTR award programs and contests and to take part in other ACTR programs and activities.
Aside from producing textbooks and other classroom materials for Russian, ACTR serves the classroom teacher with several auxiliary programs: on the secondary level there are the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian, the ACTR National Russian Essay Contest, and the ACTR Russian Scholar Laureate Award; colleges and universities participate in the National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest and the ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Award. Current ACTR members may enroll their students in these programs.
- The ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian is conducted separately in states or regions, and traces its origin to the mid-1960s, when the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (MAPRIAL/МАПРЯЛ) was founded and began to conduct a periodic International Olympiada of Spoken Russian at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. In the beginning, only one American school responded to the invitation to take part. Now, approximately 1200 students participate in the annual U.S. ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian. Students appear before three panels of judges: to speak on a prepared topic chosen randomly at the interview, to recite a poem from memory, and to respond to judges’ questions. Based on performance, some participants are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, accompanied by corresponding certificates of award; many of the other students receive certificates of Honorable Mention without medals. Materials to help students prepare for the Olympiada can be consulted at www.americancouncils.org/programs/olympiada-spoken-russian. Every four years the International Olympiada of Spoken Russian is held in Moscow by MAPRIAL, and a group of students with the best performance in the U.S. Olympiada travels to Moscow to take part in that.
- The ACTR National Russian Essay Contest (NREC) has served high school and middle school students of Russian for over 25 years. Students have two hours to write their essays under school supervision during the week before Thanksgiving. The topic is the same for all the students who write the essay. Essays are judged at the Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced and Native Speaker levels. Heritage students (those who came to the United States before age 10) are judged separately at the Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced levels. A team of judges rates the essays as Honorable Mention, Bronze, Silver or Gold. All student participants receive a certificate; in addition, authors of Bronze-, Silver- and Gold-award essays receive medals. At the Advanced, Advanced Heritage and Native Speaker levels the Gold Medal essays are forwarded to the State Pushkin Institute in Moscow, where they are rated again. Gold medalists in this Moscow round receive a second-level award pin.
- The ACTR National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest has been conducted each winter since 1999. Students' essays are judged by native speakers of Russian and receive Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates of accomplishment. The results are published in the ACTR Letter, and facsimile excerpts from some of the best essays are printed there as well.
- The ACTR Russian Scholar Laureate Awards were first presented in 2005. From each secondary school where Russian is taught one sophomore or junior may be nominated to receive the award as the school’s most outstanding student of Russian for that year. Students receive a unique lapel pin to wear, a certificate of award suitable for framing, and have their name, photograph, school, and teacher’s name printed in the fall issue of the ACTR Letter. Congratulatory letters also go to the student’s teacher and the principal or headmaster of the school. Students are nominated by a teacher; the teacher nominating a student for this award must be a current member of ACTR.
- The ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Awards were first presented in 2007. One junior or senior may be nominated from each college or university where Russian is taught to receive the award as that school's most outstanding student for that year. Students are nominated by a teacher; the teacher nominating a student for this award must be a current member of ACTR.