Q: Does the STARTALK program provide housing for participants?
A: No, the UW Russian STARTALK grant was not written to include funding for housing participants in the teacher program. However, we will do our best to provide information about local housing options that participants from outside the Seattle area could access. Here are current options that you could consider:
Q: Can the STARTALK Russian Teacher Program help me get certified as a teacher in Washington State?
A: That is the intention. Certification is a complex process in Washington State (and other states). Here are some guidelines on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction World Languages Program web page: State of Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction World Languages
The focus of this STARTALK program is to prepare teachers for the two specific test requirements for teachers to earn a Designated World Language Endorsement in Russian. Teacher candidates have to pass the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Oral Proficiency Interview (ACTFL OPI or OPIc - computer-based) and Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) in Russian at the Advanced Low level (or higher) and they need to pass the Washington Educator Skills Test - Endorsement (WEST-E) for World Languages (this test is generic for all world language teachers). The two-week Teacher Program assumes that teachers already have the required proficiency level in Russian (so no special preparations for the ACTFL OPIc and WPT), but the course should prepare them to pass the WEST-E. In addition, the program will actually pay for these assessments for teacher participants.
Q: Will teachers take the ACTFL OPIc and WPT and WEST-E Assessments during the summer program?
A: The WEST-E is scheduled at various times during the year at testing locations identified by the Professional Educator Standards Board. We are still determining how the STARTALK grant will pay for the registrations. For the ACTFL OPIc and WPT, since we are also planning to offer these assessments to the students, we may be able to arrange for participants in the Teacher Program to take them during the two-week course at the University of Washington.
Q: What else do I need to do to earn an Endorsement in Russian?
A: It all depends on what your current status is with regard to certification.
If you are already a certificated teacher in Washington state in another language (French or Bilingual Education, for example), then taking the ACTFL OPIc and WPT in Russian and the WEST-E in World Languages should qualify you to add the Designated World Language Endorsement in Russian.
If you are already a certificated teacher in Washington, but in a different subject area (such as Math or K-8 education or English Language Learner education), then you would take these tests but ALSO complete the Performance-based Pedagogical Assessment (PPA). This is something you arrange to do through a College of Education. We are working with Pacific Lutheran University (where our Lead Instructor, Dr. Bridget Yaden, teachers) to arrange, if possible, for participants in this situation to use the summer practicum of teaching in the Russian STARTALK Student Program during July-August to satisfy the PPA. This is something new, so we are not yet sure how it will work, but if you are a teacher in this situation, let us know.
If you are not yet a certificated teacher in Washington, then there's still work to be done. You would need to either complete a traditional College of Education Masters in Teaching Program or an Alternative Route Certification program. However, once you got that certification, then our summer STARTALK program should help you add the Designated World Language Endorsement for Russian (even if you completed the ACTFL OPIc and WPT and WEST-E before completing the certification program).
Q: I'm not interested in teaching in K-12 public schools so I don't need certification. Can I still register for the Russian STARTALK Teacher Program?
A: Yes, please do. Attending this program will help any teacher improve their teaching skills. However, our priority will be to accept participants who are interested in getting the Russian Endorsement to teach in public schools. If you register early, it's more likely that you would be able to reserve a spot in the program.