Today began the first day of STARTALK 2021 at UCF. STARTALK is a three-week intensive language and culture program, sponsored by the NSA, where students are taught critical languages. At UCF, students are learning Russian at the high school, beginner, and intermediate levels, as well as Arabic at the beginner and intermediate levels. The University of Central Florida has successfully hosted the Russian program since 2015 and has become well-known in the Orlando community, and Arabic was added to the program in 2019. This year BLANK students joined the program. In this three-week period, participants strengthen conversational skills in the morning and expand their knowledge of the rich and diverse Russian and Arabic cultures in the afternoon. From traditional food to games and cultural presentations, everyone has a chance to experience Russia and the Arab world.

The Russian portion of STARTALK has some new additions this year. Namely, every morning students now watch a STARTALK-produced news show called Новости Стартолк (STARTALK News), where the teaching assistants, Sean and JP, give weather reports, talk about famous idioms, and interesting events all in Russian, every day! You can check them out on the STARTALK YouTube channel. The STARTALK Instagram (@STARTALKUCF) and Twitter (@STARTALKUCF) will both update every day with new proverbs and interesting events in history, as well as fun things from the classroom!

We asked some students about why they joined the program and what they learned today:

What first motivated me is that I have friends that speak the language, and as I learn I continue to learn how beautiful it is.

Zach, Beginner Russian group

I learned how to say my father’s job in Russian; Аптекарь. It means pharmacist!

Eric, Intermediate Russian group

I learned greetings, a third of the alphabet, a little about Russian culture, and a lot of nouns!

Steven, High School Russian group

I want to learn a language that is valuable, and most people don’t really speak Arabic. I want to be able to speak to international communities that we don’t really talk to. I also like Arabic music and want to understand the lyrics.

Colin, Arabic group

Today for lunch, participants enjoyed Курица в соусе с грибами (Chicken in Sauce with Mushrooms), cалат (Salad), and вафли (Wafers).

How did you hear about STARTALK? Let us know in the comments!