STARTALK is a federal grant program managed and funded by the National Security Agency. STARTALK grants fund innovative programs with strong language learning outcomes for K-16 students in support of the STARTALK goals. STARTALK grants currently support programs offered in the following critical need languages: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Russian. American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS administers STARTALK for both students and teachers of Russian. Read more below for details on these offerings.

Student Program: STARTALK Discover Russia: Learn with Us!

Teacher Program: STARTALK Discover Russian: Teaching, Learning and Building Russian Language Communities

STARTALK Discover Russia: Learn with Us!   

STARTALK Discover Russia is a summer and year-long program for students who have either already studied Russian and want more than their school program offers or for heritage speakers of Russian who would like to improve their understanding of the fundamentals of Russian and learn more about Russia. Students will need to have standard computer equipment and regular internet connection in order to participate. All expenses for materials and instruction are covered by this scholarship program.

Program Features

  • 60 hours of virtual summer camp (3 weeks) from June 28, 2023 to July 19, 2023
  • 60 hours of online programming during the 2023-24 academic year
  • Classroom activities will feature current, authentic materials to help students explore Russian language and culture in all four skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening)
  • Guest speakers and culture workshops thoughtfully connected with course content
  • Virtual field trips and connections with native speakers and experts in Russian language, history, and culture
  • Pre- and post-program testing that allows students to prove their knowledge of Russian
  • Opportunities to showcase students’ knowledge of Russian in the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian, the National Russian Essay Contest, and NEWL exam
  • Highly experienced, award-winning teachers of Russian trained in communicative, student-centered methods


  • Students should be rising ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders (will be in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grades in fall 2023)
  • Students must be U.S. citizens 


  • Application deadline is February 28, 2023.
  • The application requires one essay, a teacher recommendation, and a transcript.
  • Notification of selection decisions will take place mid-March, 2023.

Application for Students



STARTALK Discover Russian: Teaching, Learning and Building Russian Language Communities

This standards-based course is designed to provide teachers of Russian a professional development program that focuses on current pedagogical theory in the teaching and learning of Russian. Program participants will be introduced to the STARTALK Principles for Effective Teaching and Learning, the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, and ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The ideal applicant is interested in learning up-to-date approaches to world language learning and teaching.

Program Dates: Spring Orientation, May 2023 (online), Summer Program June 29 – July 20, 2023, Academic Year sessions (Fall 2023, Spring 2024 online)

Program Meeting Hours: Classes meet Monday through Friday, 12:00pm –4:00pm (ET)

Location: Hybrid Program. This course will be offered online and 4 days meeting in-person in Washington, DC (July 10-13, 2023)

Participants will:

  • Learn and explain key concepts in effective language learning;
  • Develop assessments that target the three learning modes;
  • Technology integration into everyday instruction;
  • Have access to shared materials and lessons created within the teacher program.

During the course, participants will apply new learning by:

  • Identifying new concepts evident in in variety of instructional settings;
  • Analyzing teaching strategies during synchronous and asynchronous lessons;
  • Creating a practical thematic unit for teaching in a XXI Century Classroom.

Selected teachers will receive:

  • Scholarship for full program tuition sponsored by the STARTALK program;
  • ACTFL Workshop Participation;
  • A certificate of Participation from ACTFL;
  • STARTALK Professional Development Certificate of Program Participation, including PD hours;
  • All participants have the option to receive 3 graduate credits at no additional cost

Applications for 2023 are due by February 28, 2023.

Application for Teachers