Launched in the late 1960s, the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian is the oldest of ACTR’s secondary school activities. Drawing on the long-established practice of oral exams and competitions within the Russian educational system, the Olympiada has provided successive generations of American high school and middle school students of Russian with a forum in which to demonstrate their achievement in Russian language study, while conversing with native speakers of Russian and meeting with students of Russian from schools other than their own.
State/Regional Olympiada competitions take place throughout the United States from February through May. Participants may earn gold, silver, or bronze medals in recognition of their proficiency in Russian conversation, poetry recitation, and Russian civilization at various levels of study. In addition, every third or fourth year outstanding contestants at regional ACTR Olympiada contests have the opportunity to participate in an international Olympiada contest that takes place in Moscow and brings together winners of Russian Olympiada contests from throughout the world to compete for international medals and engage in a rich program of cultural activities.
Questions? Comments? Contact the Olympiada National Co-Chairs: Betsy Sandstrom at ecsandstrom at fcps.edu and Ruth Edelman at rpedelman at hotmail.com
The ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian is a unique and enjoyable event. There is no other language contest like it in the United States. The ACTR Olympiada will give your students the opportunity
- to gain confidence in their ability to speak Russian,
- to demonstrate some familiarity with Russian civilization,
- to acquire a sense of achievement,
- to be recognized for their efforts to master a very challenging language,
- to interact with students of Russian from other schools.
The ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian fosters teamwork and collegiality among Russian teachers in states and regions, as well as throughout the United States. It is an ideal vehicle for promoting the study of Russian in your school as well as at the district, state, and national levels.
Working with one or more colleagues, chairs plan, organize, and administer regional or state contests. To share the burden of organizing this event and to ensure continuity from year to year, it is strongly recommended that states/regions, especially those with a large number of schools and participants, be represented by at least two chairs. Chairs will report the results of their Olympiada contests immediately following the competition. Chairs are invited to take part in both an internet-mediated conference in late fall of every year and the annual ACTR Olympiada meeting held at the conference of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages in January to review the Olympiada contests of the previous year, to discuss issues facing the Olympiada, and to suggest modification of Olympiada rules and regulations as necessary.
Each regional contest should follow the format of the International Olympiada:
Commission I: Speaking about yourself, everyday conversation
Commission II: Civilization
Commission III: Reading and discussion; recitation of a poem
Chairs may also wish to consider combining the Olympiada Contest with:
Chairs are asked to encourage participation by all eligible schools in their state or region, including community-based programs (e.g. programs for speakers of Russian as a heritage language). The Membership Secretary of ACTR will provide a list of potential participating schools and their contact information. Chairs can also consult the Directory of Members for possible participants and judges.
Participation in the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian
High school and middle school students of Russian
$6 per student. All students must be registered by a current member of the ACTR. Some states or regions require a school registration fee. ACTR covers other program expenses.
Olympiada Preparation Materials (All levels)
School Registration Form (.doc)
Student Registration Form (.doc)
All students participating in the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian must have a sponsor, who will register the student in advance of the event and chaperone the student at the event.
STUDENTS ENROLLED IN A FORMAL PROGRAM OF RUSSIAN STUDY
1) The sponsor will be the student’s Russian teacher. Teachers who register student participants must be current members of the American Council of Teachers of Russian as shown in the ACTR Directory of Members. They should enroll only students that they themselves teach.
2) Students in a school or other institution that offers a formal Russian program must be currently enrolled in a Russian class.
STUDENTS NOT ENROLLED IN A FORMAL PROGRAM OF RUSSIAN STUDY
1) If a student's school does not have a formal Russian language program, he or she may participate with the approval of the state or regional chairperson;
2) If the school or institution has a formal Russian program in which the student is not enrolled, he/she may not register for the Olympiada, unless he/she has exhausted all of the school’s offerings in Russian;
3) If the student is otherwise eligible, a teacher, tutor, or other adult may sponsor the student. The sponsor must become a Regular Member of ACTR, pay the appropriate dues in the Pre-College Teachers category, and chaperone the student at the Olympiada.
4) If the state or regional competition collects a school participation fee in addition to the ACTR participation fee (currently $6.00), it will be the state or regional chairperson's decision as to whether an individual student participant's sponsor is liable for that fee.
CATEGORIES FOR REGISTRATION
Most students will register in this category according to their level of study (e.g., Russian I students in Level I, etc.). These are students whose knowledge of Russian was acquired in a United States classroom, more or less exclusively.
Heritage Learners are students who arrived in the United States up to and including age 10, from countries where Russian is a required language in school or is spoken by a sizable portion of the population. The Heritage Learners are to compete in their own separate category.
For the purposes of the competition, heritage learners should be registered one level higher than his or her level of study (i.e. first-year students enrolled as second-year, etc.)
This category is for students who arrived in the United States after the age of 10 from countries where Russian is a required language or is spoken by a sizable portion of the population.
In cases where a student’s category is not self-evident, sponsors should consult with the state/regional chairs. The ultimate decision as to the proper classification of such students rests with the state/regional chairs. Teachers are urged to distinguish carefully between heritage learners and native speakers.
Teachers should register students directly with their state/regional chairs, using the format designated and within the deadline established by them.
For all students the registration fee is $6.00. All teachers or adults who sponsor and chaperone students must be members of ACTR for the current year (renew or enter a new membership now). State/Regional chairs shall be responsible for verifying the membership status of teachers participating in their Olympiada.
There are no refunds for students who do not participate after registration. Registration fees should be collected by the state/regional chair and forwarded together to the designated national co-chair (currently Mark Trotter), who will record the payments and send them on to the ACTR Treasurer. Medals and certificates will NOT be issued to students of a school until payment for registration fees has reached the designated national co-chair.
Judges use a 100-point scale for scoring at each commission. At the end of the competition, scores for the three commissions are averaged; medals and certificates are awarded as follows:
• 90-100 points - Gold medal and certificate
• 80-89 points - Silver medal and certificate
• 70-79 points - Bronze medal and certificate
• below 69 points - honorable mention: all contestants who, in the opinion of the state or regional Chair, seriously participate should get at least an honorable mention, a result that is recognized with a certificate (but no medal)
MEDALS AND CERTIFICATES
Each school will automatically receive certificates and medals upon successful completion of their respective Olympiadas and upon receipt of complete results and registration fees from the state or regional Chair. Results should be sent to the designated national co-chair (currently Mark Trotter) using the template provided.
In a year of an International Olympiada in Moscow, each state or region may nominate at least one upper-level student (Level 3 or higher) for the opportunity to compete for a spot on the US team at the International Olympiada in Moscow. States/regions may nominate one additional student per each twenty contestants (any level) in their regional competition over twenty (e.g., states/regions with 40 contestants can nominate a total of 2, those with 60 contestants can nominate a total of 3, etc). Note that nominees may have to meet non-academic criteria pertaining to such matters as age and citizenship.
A selection committee, formed by the American Councils for International Education (which sponsors US participation in the International Olympiada) in Washington, DC, will make the final determination of US International Olympiada team members among the nominees from each state/region. Nominees may be required to submit letters of recommendation from their teachers or other school officials, write an essay in Russian and/or English, and take part in individual telephone interviews in Russian conducted by experienced native speakers of Russian from the American Councils office in Washington, DC.
Every year, the chairs of the state/regional Olympiada contests will consult with their respective judges and select one (1) non-heritage and one (1) heritage learner contestant to be recognized for outstanding achievement in Russian language study, as evidenced by performance in the competition and, in some cases, other criteria (e.g., years spent in study of the language). The names and full-face color photo shall be sent to the chair(s) for printing in the ACTR Newsletter. In addition, a book prize may be awarded to each of the winners, if funds are available. Students may be so honored only once.