Learn Russian Through Immersion: 7 Study Abroad Opportunities
Traveling abroad does something to the soul.
That’s why it’s such a great idea to travel abroad to Russian-speaking countries in order to learn Russian through immersion.
We found seven of the most reputable programs around to help you take the guesswork and worry out of finding a reliable study abroad option.
- 1. CIEE Study Abroad in Russia
- 2. Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP)
- 3. AIFS Study Abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia
- 4. Business Russian Language & Internship (BRLI) Program
- 5. The Middlebury School—Study Abroad in Kazakhstan
- 6. Russian Courses in Moscow at the Liden & Denz Russian Language Center
- 7. Overseas Flagship (ROF) Capstone Year Abroad
- What Are the Benefits of Learning Russian with Immersion?
- And One More Thing...
1. CIEE Study Abroad in Russia
The CIEE study abroad program in St. Petersburg focuses primarily on teaching foreigners Russian through immersion, but it also encourages learners to explore the beautiful golden city on their own for optimum language and cultural exposure.
The main Saint Petersburg program is “Summer Russian Area Studies”.
In addition to language studies, students will also learn about history, politics, culture and business in Russia, taught by professors from the St. Petersburg State University School of Political Science, or other Russian institutions.
You can choose between volunteering for a nonprofit while you’re there or you can join in on the dozens of weekly events hosted by CIEE that allow students to interact with locals.
To apply, you must be a college student and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students will earn 3-6 college credits over a period of four weeks, but this is definitely one of the more vacation-y programs on our list.
2. Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP)
American Councils’ RLASP has been around since the 70s, making it one of the more reputable study abroad opportunities on this list.
By combining an extremely intense course routine with a seemingly endless list of optional extracurricular activities and events, students can really learn Russian quickly and explore the culture their own way. Activities and events include excursions to museums, churches, old schools, historical spots and other public places of interest.
Students will spend about 20 hours per week in the classroom, 16 of which will be dedicated to Russian language instruction. Classes are small (three to five students) and grouped by level, so you’ll be getting personalized and direct instruction. By the end of the semester, students will be required to write a 15-20 page paper written entirely in Russian.
Graduate and undergraduate students can apply for this program, which takes place in the city of your choosing. Options include Almaty in Kazakhstan, Tbilisi in Georgia or Yerevan in Armenia. Participants also need to complete coursework in the history and culture of their host country and may elect to enroll in Armenian, Georgian or Kazakh language study.
The program term is around eight weeks and runs in the summer.
3. AIFS Study Abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia
AIFS is another oldie-but-goodie (founded in 1964!) that’s a safe and reputable choice. There are seasonal programs available, but AIFS also offers full academic year programs.
The program includes excursions to Moscow and even to various locations in Finland and Estonia, so you’ll really be seeing the world through this immersion opportunity.
Best of all, though this program is immersive, classes are taught in both Russian and English, so it’s approachable even for absolute beginners to the language.
AIFS makes it easy to budget your trip by bundling up the costs for the program, travel, meals and homestay into one price. The program is open to college students.
For more information on the full-year or seasonal programs, shoot AIFS an email via their contact page.
4. Business Russian Language & Internship (BRLI) Program
You might want to study abroad in Russia because you plan on moving there at some point. On the other hand, you might be studying it for business reasons, to further your career by acquiring a more in-depth knowledge of the Russian language.
This program from American Councils helps students learn the technical and business language they need for careers in Russian-speaking sectors of politics, trade, investment and other professional industries.
The program merges intensive classes with useful internship opportunities in Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Almaty. Along with an excellent language-based course, students will also learn about Russian business, the global workplace and intercultural norms.
Undergraduates, graduate students and current working professionals are able to apply, but all applicants must have completed four or more semesters of Russian in a college or university.
5. The Middlebury School—Study Abroad in Kazakhstan
The Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad offers Russian students a chance to study in Astana, Kazakhstan, where Russian is an official language.
Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan, it’s a new city with extraordinary infrastructure and architecture taking inspiration from places like New York, Shanghai, Dubai, Moscow and Tokyo.
This program is more flexible than most when it comes to academics since there’s a bigger focus on socializing in order to get the best Russian immersion experience possible.
Students enrolling in the program must have completed two years of Russian courses and must have achieved an overall average of B- or higher.
In addition to program fees, Middlebury presents prospective students with a list of estimated personal expenses (like books and meals)—perfect for planning out your budget before you go.
6. Russian Courses in Moscow at the Liden & Denz Russian Language Center
Liden & Denz is well-known for offering Russian immersion programs in Moscow since the 90s. The private school is dedicated to teaching Russian to expats with an academic focus on the Russian language.
If you’re a student considering an immersion program that doubles as a college degree, the Liden & Denz Russian Language Center could be an excellent choice.
The school also offers courses in Saint Petersburg and Riga, Latvia. Riga is Latvia’s capital and is nestled on the shore of the Baltic Sea, making it a wonderful study abroad location for those who want to learn about Latvia’s rich culture.
7. Overseas Flagship (ROF) Capstone Year Abroad
This program is offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is only available for undergraduates at UW-Madison. If you’re a current student or are considering applying to UW-Madison, this is an excellent opportunity to consider.
It’s a unique chance to learn Russian and study abroad since, on a weekly basis, students are guided to different areas of Kazakhstan.
Be warned: The Russian Flagship coursework is intensive, focusing on everything from conversational language all the way to business and technical language.
You should also be aware that in order to take this course, you must complete an introductory study-abroad experience for six weeks. Students must plan up to a year in advance for this program and apply in January in order to reserve a spot for the following school year.
What Are the Benefits of Learning Russian with Immersion?
Language immersion is a method of teaching non-native speakers a new language by completely surrounding them with a particular culture. This is done by placing the student into an environment where a majority of the conversations and lessons happening are in the language they wish to learn.
Some benefits of learning Russian through immersion include:
- Encouragement to learn a language quicker through exposure.
- Targeting different areas of a language, from pronunciation to grammar.
- Helping learners understand the culture that the language comes from.
- Teaching students Russian the way that Russian people use it for optimal authenticity.
If you want to apply for a study abroad program, you can get a taste of what’s in store for you by constructing an at-home immersion environment. One way to do this is to use immersion-focused language learning software. FluentU, for example, uses culturally relevant short videos in Russian to teach you vocabulary that will be useful domestically or abroad.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Are you already packing your bags? Many of these programs for learning Russian through immersion require students to apply well ahead of time, so plan ahead!
And One More Thing...
If you love learning Russian and want to immerse yourself with authentic materials from Russia, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.
FluentU naturally and gradually eases you into learning the Russian language and culture. You'll learn real Russian as it's spoken by real Russian people!
FluentU has a very broad range of contemporary videos. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of Russian-language content available on FluentU:
FluentU makes these native Russian videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.
All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Russian learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.
And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.
The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)