Russian Language Journal


Russian language learning, indigenous languages, Russian language programs


On March 20, 2021, one of my students sent a message through his college network: “Happy New Year! Happy Naýryz! Наурыз құтты бол- сын! Naýryz qutty bolsyn! S Vesennim prazdnikom Nauryz! ... Remember to celebrate with friends and family (family meaning chosen, adoptive, or biological, etc.)!” This student grew up in a Spanish-speaking foster family and recently, after a DNA test, discovered his ancestral roots in Bashkiria, Tatarstan, and Kazakhstan. He now wants to learn more about his origins, and he is looking for sources to learn about non-Russian languages and cultures in the Russian Federation (RF) and former USSR. To do so, he enrolled in our university’s Russian program. In his situation, and the situation of many other North Americans who may be interested in learning Indigenous languages of the RF for personal or professional purposes, Russian is the only available gateway language. In turn, one responsibility of Russian language instructors is to empower students to use that language as a gateway toward Indigenous languages.