Survey of Pre-College Enrollments in Russian Language Classes, 2022
Table of Contents
This survey was first conducted by CCPCR, The Committee on College and Pre-College Russian. The committee was created in 1984 as a result of the Report of the National Committee for Russian Language Study (1983), which itself followed a report of the Carter administration’s Presidential Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies (1979). Noting (in 1983) that “enrollments in the Russian language have dropped more precipitously than those in any other major modern language,” the Committee for Russian Language Study, composed of representatives of AAASS, AATSEEL, and ACTR, made 12 recommendations in the Report, among which was an initiative to strengthen pre-college Russian programs and establish a survey of pre-college Russian teaching.
In 2002, CCPCR added an annual fall survey of college/university-level Russian enrollments. CCPCR also gathered data for pre-college enrollments from 1996-2013. SRAS was not able to use this previous data, however, as we discovered extensive data corruption that had occurred in previous server migrations. Thus, our reporting begins with 2018.
CCPCR surveys were coordinated by John Schillinger, now Emeritus Professor of Russian from American University in Washington, D.C. In 2018, Professor Schillinger retired from heading the survey and SRAS, an organization specialized in study abroad to Eurasia and promoting and supporting the study of Eurasia in North America, took over. Find out more about SRAS and our varied projects.
Since 2018 SRAS has, in conference with several Russian teachers, sought to make the survey even richer and more informative. The survey was moved to a larger, electronic questionnaire to allow for extended analysis and the creation of graphics. Additional questions were added based on interests teachers expressed in focus groups conducted by SRAS.
If you are interested in supporting Russian language study at the pre-college or college level or wish to connect with SRAS, either to add information about your program, ask questions, or make recommendations for our projects, please contact us.
Our survey was distributed via the listserve SEELANGS, the SRAS newsletter, and mailings coordinated with the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) to their members. The ACTFL has been an invaluable help to this survey effort. SRAS has also conducted extensive individual outreach efforts this year to locate programs and verify contacts.
A total of 65 valid responses to the 2022 survey were received. Responses deemed invalid were duplicate submissions counting the same students in a single program. When identified, the most accurate numbers were discerned in conference with all respondents. A total of three respondents reported zero students either due to program cancellations or suspension.
A particular challenge of the survey is the fluidity of the field. For instance, sometimes teachers of Russian have multiple qualifications and are hired to teach a different subject. In some of these cases, the teachers might found a Russian program while they are teaching a subject other than Russian even though they were not specifically hired to teach Russian. If that teacher moves to different school, the original school may not seek to preserve the program and any new teacher hired is not likely to have the double skill. Meanwhile, the original teacher may found a program at the school to which they have relocated.
Many long-standing programs have been canceled when the teacher retires. We have found in our outreach efforts that at least several teachers have left primary and secondary education to teach online, for higher education, or to persue other professional opportunities.
This survey does not represent a complete census of the pre-college field. The mailing list for the ACTFL identifies 101 different institutions. A larger survey, conducted in 2017 by the American Councils for International Education in conjunction with numerous professional organizations and support from the US government, identified 147 individual high school programs.
Thus, our survey has managed to contact a smaller number of programs than likely currently exist. However, the institutional diversity and geographic range of these programs is great and we believe our results can still be considered representative of the field. We hope as well that respondent numbers will grow as the survey becomes a regular and, hopefully, more widely known event each year.
III. Overall Enrollment and Program Growth
With extensive outreach efforts, we received a total of 62 responses from schools that currently have students studying Russian. This is a record response level.
Partly on the basis of increased reporting, the total number of students reported also reached 6825, an absolute record for our reporting, topping any previous reporting by about 34%.
The number of reporting programs, however, only increased by about 10% from its previous record. Thus, some growth came from the programs themselves.
To track trends in enrollment, we can calculate year-on-year growth for any program reporting for two consecutive years. A majority of such programs reporting for 2021 and 2022 reported positive growth with more programs reporting strongly positive growth (of over 20%) than ever before.
We can also see from the above that we had, in fact, fewer programs with consecutive reporting to draw from in 2021-2022 than during any other reporting cycle. We had many programs report for the first time or after a break and those programs that did report were, as seen below, more likely to be large programs than ever before.
IV. State-by-State Breakdown
For 2022, survey respondents came from 21 US states, representing about 42% of all states. However, the survey is dominated by a few of them, particularly by eastern states. Most of these states also have significant populations of Russian speakers.
New York, Maryland, and New Jersey account for about a third of all reported enrollments. Just over another third are distributed among six states: Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Alaska.
V. Heritage Speakers
Although states with larger Russian speaking populations are generally over-represented here, most programs report that most of their students are, in fact, not heritage speakers.
That said, more programs are reporting larger percentages of heritage speakers this year than ever before. This has come about primarily from programs with higher percentages reporting this year, rather than from growing Russian demographics at these schools.
VI. Grade Breakdowns
Most reporting programs (56) reported having a high school program. Fewer (25) reported middle school programs and fewer still (17) reported grade school programs. Nearly all growth in program numbers, however, occurred in the two smaller segments.
VII. Requirements and Levels
VIII. Types of Instruction
While many programs reported offering online and hybrid instruction in response to COVID-related restrictions in 2020, these are now being phased out as face-to-face and immersion teaching styles become more viable again.
Respondents could select multiple options to reflect all styles used across their programs. Thus, the total below is larger than the overall number of programs reporting.
IX. Partnerships and Curriculums
X. Other Languages Offered
In only eight programs is Russian the only foreign language offered. In all other programs, it is most commonly offered with three or four other foreign languages. However, numbers of foreign languages offered ranged from one up to 13. Below are all languages that were historically reported as offered by two or more programs.
The 62 schools reporting Russian language enrollments currently employ a total of 98 full time and 97 part time Russian teachers. Most commonly, programs are staffed by a single full time or a single full time and single part time teacher.
XI. Data Set
Thanks again to (SRAS Assistant Director) Josh Wilson for being so helpful with getting us started! At our concluding discussion class yesterday I asked the students to write and then present five “Kliuchevykh slov” about their experience. Several of them wound up referencing Josh’s comments about trying to observe without judging, which he made during the Moscow Walking Tour. Thanks for helping me teach this course!