Congratulations to our Graduating Majors & Minors!

Commencement is always a bittersweet time. It’s wonderful to see such intelligent, thoughtful, well-intentioned young people launch themselves out into the world. It’s sad to lose them from our classrooms.

This year it is particularly bittersweet, since our graduates are going out into a world in such a state of chaos and flux. However, one thing we can be certain of is that our German & Russian students will be doing everything they can to make the world a better place at this difficult juncture.

Bon voyage, graduates! We wish you all the very best!

Congratulations Graduates 2020

A celebratory card for graduating Russian majors Abbey Moore and Hunter Stinson, and Russian minor Alex Uman. We will miss you!

Student Awards · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

#WFU18 Tatiana Ostwalt’s time in Kazakhstan as a Fulbright TA

Tatiana Ostwalt, WFU18 in Russian, was awarded a Fulbright TA-ship in Kazakhstan for 2020. Unfortunately, her time in Kazakhstan was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has shared this essay and some photographs of her time there with us.

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 1

I was placed in the city of Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan, with a population of about 200,000 people that is located in the south of Kazakhstan. In this region, there is a strong emphasis on the Kazakh culture and Kazakh is more commonly spoken than Russian, as compared to other parts of Kazakhstan. There is a considerable amount of Koreans living in Kazakhstan and as ethnically Korean myself, I would often be thought of as a native until I was heard speaking. This allowed me to blend into my environment fairly well, but also challenged me to continue improving my target language abilities. Although people would be initially surprised to hear that I was American, once I told them about my background, they would quickly understand and be receptive to find out more.

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 3

I taught English 13 hours a week in the Department of Foreign Languages and Translation Studies of a university in my city. My host institution was very welcoming and I had a lot of fun teaching my students. The students were at the very least bilingual, knowing both Kazakh and Russian, and were eager to improve their English with a native speaker and learn about life in the United States. The students I was teaching were majoring in Translation Studies or Education, and were highly driven to be proficient in the languages they were learning to apply to their future careers. 

For almost all of my students, I was the first American they had met and I was happy to share with them about where I was from and represent the U.S. with this cultural exchange. While students were learning about different facets of American life and strengthening their English, I was being educated on the differences of the education system in Kazakhstan and learning more about the Kazakh culture and history. One of my students and a local friend also started teaching me Kazakh. I loved seeing the passion and love the people here had for their ethnic roots and identity, and was glad they wanted to share that with me. Thanks to the support of the Fulbright Program, my host institution, and the local friends I made in my community, the transition process to Kazakhstan was made much smoother. I feel lucky to have formed lasting friendships and bonds there, and feel thankful for the hospitality I was shown by the Kazakh people. I hope I will get the chance to return one day. 

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 2


More Updates on Intensive Summer Programs

I hope everyone is staying safe and staying calm as the end of this very wild semester comes steamrollering to a close! Here’s a quick update on some more online summer programs currently on offer (check here for a previous post about online intensive summer programs):

The University of Michigan is offering 1st- through 3rd-year Russian classes online this summer: https://lsa.umich.edu/lsa/academics/engaged-learning/summer-learning/summer-language-institute.html

The University of North Georgia is offering intensive 3rd-year Russian online this summer: https://ung.edu/undergraduate-admissions/index.php Please send any questions to the class instructor Tatiana.Maslova@ung.edu or the program specialist at UNG Lara.DeBloise@ung.edu

American Councils has switched a number of its study abroad options to intensive online courses. Find out more here: https://acstudyabroad.org/summeronline/

Wheaton College is offering an online course on Russian Film this summer, open to all. Please contact Tom Dolack (dolack_thomas@wheatonma.edu) for details. Registration ends May 2. For further information see https://wheatoncollege.edu/admission/summer-session/.

RUS 317 Signing in 4.24

And here’s a screenshot of RUS 317 signing in for last week’s video class. Just one more week to go before finals!

Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

Summer Language Study Updates

It’s been a whirlwind here at WFU as we start on our third week of remote instruction. It’s been a challenging transition for everyone, but faculty, staff, and students have tackled the challenge with enthusiasm and unfailing good humor (okay, there might have been some sobbing into a pint of ice cream here and there, but overall the transition has gone remarkably smoothly).

RUS 212 Spring 2020 4.1

Students from RUS 212 signing into a virtual class meeting–and “sharing” their snacks!

Unfortunately, study abroad programs have been cancelled. Although doing so is clearly necessary, it is a major disappointment for the students who had been planning on a fabulous trip this summer.

However, several summer programs are now offering online courses. So while you will not be able to have that trip to St. Petersburg or Tbilisi this summer, you can still study a foreign language. Many of the programs are being redesigned in a way that keeps their eligibility for Title XIII, FLAS, and Project GO funding.

Because the situation is changing so quickly, programs have not been able to keep their websites updated. If you have questions about a specific program, please contact them directly. If you would like to know more about the situation for German programs, please contact Professor Howards at howardal@wfu.edu. If you would like to know more about the situation for Russian programs, please contact Professor Clark at clarkep@wfu.edu.

A partial list of Critical Need Language programs that are currently offering online summer courses:

Arizona State’s Critical Language Institute

Beloit College’s Center for Language Studies

Indiana University’s Summer Language Workshop

University of Pittsburgh’s Summer Language Institute

Other programs may be available soon. The good news is that these are very affordable! While it won’t be the same as study abroad, you can still make considerable progress in your language learning.

Stay safe and have fun studying!


Some Tips for Getting the Most Out of Online Learning

What a week it’s been! And it’s only Monday.

Just Breathe

If you’re freaking out, take a moment to breathe! Hyperventilation never helped anyone.

Let’s not kid ourselves: this is a difficult, scary thing we’re all going through. And it’s going to affect everyone, but it’s going to affect different people in different ways. Some people are going to have to put aside their teaching and learning for a while in order to focus on survival. Others, meanwhile, will be stuck at home, desperate for something to do.

For those of you feeling stressed out about this sudden and unexpected jump to remote teaching and learning, you are in good company! I think we’re all pretty stressed out about it. Which brings me to Tip #1:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to others going through the same thing.

Not sure about assignments, grades, or what’s going to happen to the class? Ask your professors. They might not have 100% firm answers about some of those things right now, but they’ll appreciate you sharing your concerns. And reach out to your classmates too. Just because you’re no longer in the same dorm doesn’t mean you can’t create a virtual community.

Embrace what you can do with the online format instead of fretting about what you can’t do.

In-person classes have many wonderful things about them. You know what, though? They’re just one, very limited, approach to learning. The online/remote format offers lots of flexibility, lots of opportunities for “real world” engagement with topics, and a whole world of information at your fingertips. Brainstorm with your classmates and your instructors about how you can use this as an opportunity to study your topic from a new angle and think about it in new ways.

Take charge of your learning.

Classroom education offers lots of instant feedback and accountability, but it can leave students feeling disempowered. Working remotely is a great chance to build your “self-accountability” muscles–and think about what’s important to you and how you want to prioritize your time and energy.

Don’t get overwhelmed.

It can seem like you need to be doing *everything* right now. And your day may suddenly have a lot less structure to it than you’re used to. Make a commitment to put some self-chosen structure into your schedule, and refuse to let your to-do list overwhelm you.

Keep your sense of humor, and have fun!

Craziness is going to happen. Online systems are going to crash, assignments are going to disappear into the ether, your cat will walk across your keyboard just as you’re trying to answer your instructor’s question on that Zoom videoconference. Or maybe your instructor’s cat will walk all over their keyboard while they’re trying to call on you. It’s all okay. Share a good laugh, and move on.

And as you head into this new world of learning, may the odds be ever in your favor!

May the odds

Department Events · Uncategorized

A Few Tips for Online Language Learning

As we prepare to switch to remote learning, we at the German and Russian department wanted to share a few ideas for how to maximize learning in what for many will be a new teaching and learning environment.

Tips for Online Language Learning

If you’re used to learning in a structured face-to-face classroom environment, moving away from that can seem confusing or intimidating. However, not only is learning in a different environment possible, but there are significant advantages to other learning environments! Embracing this will help you make the most of this opportunity.

The great thing about language is that it can be practiced pretty much anywhere, at any time, especially with the internet. Consider looking for out-of-class ways to work on your language skills, especially if you’re looking for ways to pass the time while stuck at home.

Some ideas:

  • Set up virtual communities with your classmates where you can chat, hang out, and ask questions.
  • Read online news reports in the target language. You can ask your instructor for suggestions on good news services.
  • Stream live radio. This is a great way to work on your listening skills and learn more about the culture, and it can be done while doing homework, chores, or just chilling! Radio Garden http://radio.garden/ allows you to live stream radio from all over the world.
  • There are hundreds of foreign films and tv shows available on Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video. Binge-watching tv shows is a great way to build vocab and learn more about the culture.

And, of course, stay safe, everyone! Please reach out to your instructors if you have questions or need help.

Department Events · Uncategorized

Come Speak Russian! This Week’s Events

Hello all! Following on the success of our Maslenitsa celebration (pictures below), we’ve got more Russian-related activities this week. Today (Tuesday, March 3) we’ll be holding Russian Conversation Hour, or as we like to call it, Chas Peek! Come by, get snacks, meet other Russian students, and practice your Russian. Greene 341, 4-5pm.

Chas Peek March 3

Last Friday’s Maslenitsa (Russian Carnevale/Mardi Gras) was a big hit! We held it in the WakerSpace and anyone who dropped by could make their own bliny (Russian pancakes)–or just enjoy some bliny made by the Russian students.

Lots of fun was had by all!

Department Events · Uncategorized

It’s Pancake Time! This Week’s Events

After a few quiet days, we’ve got a jam-packed week coming up! Details below.




Missed out on Mardi Gras? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered 🙂 The Russian version has fewer beads and more pancakes, but it’s just as much fun! Drop by the WakerSpace between 11 and 1 on Friday, February 28th, and get some freshly made bliny (pancakes). You can even learn to make your own!

Maslenitsa Social Media Square


Call for Applications for Dobro Slovo


Dobro Slovo Image

The WFU chapter of Dobro Slovo, the national Slavic honors society, is currently calling for applications for this year. To be eligible, students must have taken at least two years of a Slavic language, with an average GPA of 3.5 in Slavic classes, and an overall GPA of 3.0. Students must also indicate an ongoing interest in the study of Slavic languages and cultures, or in using them professionally.

To apply, please send the following to Dr. Clark at clarkep@wfu.edu: 1) an unofficial transcript, and 2) a short (1-2 paragraphs) statement about their interest in Slavic languages and cultures, and their future plans regarding them. Please submit the materials by March 15.

Students whose applications are chosen to be forwarded to the national office will also need to submit a 1-time $35 application fee. Students for whom this will be a financial hardship can request that the fee be waived.

Please send any questions to Dr. Clark at clarkep@wfu.edu.


Congratulations to German Major Omar Pasha on Delivering Senior Oration!

Congratulations to senior German major Omar Pasha!  He was selected as one of the top 10 senior orators for the 2020 graduating class, and on February 5th spoke in front of peers, faculty, and administrators, giving his own perspective on the Wake Forest Experience.  His speech, titled “Cirque de Forest” was clever, provocative, and (as anyone who knows Omar will not be shocked to hear) impeccably delivered.  Thanks to Omar, and to Dr. Thomas, who introduced him!


Department Events · Uncategorized

What a week! Major/Minor declarations, conversation hours, and pancake night!

Have we got a week for you! So let’s jump straight into it.

Major:Minor declaration

It’s major/minor declaration week! Email us at ogletrtw@wfu.edu or drop by the department office in Greene Hall to find out more.

Chas Peek Feb 4

Tuesday is a big day! We start off with Chas Peek (Russian conversation hour) at 4pm in Greene 341

Pancake Night Feb 4

Followed by Pancake Night starting around 5:30 at Professor Clark’s house.

Kaffeestunde Feb 5

And then it’s Kaffeestunde (German conversation hour) on Wednesday!

Hope to see you there!