2023 Wisconsin ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian


11:00 – 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, 2023
Union South (1308 West Dayton St, Madison, WI 53715)

The American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) was founded in 1974 as an association of language and area professionals involved with Russian language, literature, and linguistics. In April 2022, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) and Russian Flagship Program will sponsor Wisconsin’s ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian for middle and high school students (grades 6-12).

Launched in the late 1960s, the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian is the oldest of ACTR’s secondary school activities. Drawing on the long-established practice of oral exams and competitions within the Russian educational system, the Olympiada has provided successive generations of American high school and middle school students of Russian with a forum in which to demonstrate their achievement in Russian language study, while conversing with native speakers of Russian and meeting with students of Russian from schools other than their own.

State/regional Olympiada competitions take place throughout the United States from February through May. Participants may earn gold, silver, or bronze medals in recognition of their proficiency in Russian conversation, poetry recitation, and Russian civilization at various levels of study. In addition, every third or fourth year outstanding contestants at regional ACTR Olympiada contests have the opportunity to participate in an international Olympiada contest that takes place in Moscow and brings together winners of Russian Olympiada contests from throughout the world to compete for international medals and engage in a rich program of cultural activities.

For questions about the Wisconsin ACTR Olympiada, please contact regional chair Jacob Aehl.

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All students participating in the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian must have a sponsor, who will register the student in advance of the event and chaperone the student at the event. All teachers or adults who sponsor and chaperone students must be members of ACTR for the current year. New ACTR memberships can be registered here. Those who are uncertain about their current member status can verify membership year by logging in here. Teachers must pay their annual dues before enrolling students.

Registrations must be completed by Thursday, March 23, 2023. Note: In accordance with FERPA regulations, registration forms will be securely stored in the Simple Safe Zone Google Drive, maintained by the UW-Madison Office of Youth Protection.

Teachers/SponsorsRegister your school by completing this form (form should be completed once only for the entire school) and register your students by completing this form. Please record students’ names in both Russian and English (for example, Badger/Бэджер, Bucky/Баки). Email completed forms to Jacob Aehl (aehl@wisc.edu) and Sarah Linkert (sarah.linkert@wisc.edu).

There is a registration fee of $6.00 per student. Payment for registrations can be made by check or credit card. Below are instructions for each option.

Payment by check:
Checks must be made out to American Councils for International Education with “Olympiada Fees” in the memo line and mailed/delivered to CREECA’s campus office:
Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA)
210 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Schools or districts that require an invoice or tax information in order to process checks should email ACTROlympiada@gmail.com.


Students participate at one of five levels and are grouped by category.

Regular (R) students are students whose knowledge of Russian was acquired in a United States classroom, more or less exclusively.

Heritage Learners
Heritage Learners (H) are students who arrived in the United States up to and including age 10, from countries where Russian is a required language in school or is spoken by a sizable portion of the population. The Heritage Learners are to compete in their own separate category.
For the purposes of the competition, Heritage Learners should be registered and must compete at one level above the class in which they are studying Russian (i.e. first-year students enrolled as second-year, etc.).

Native Speakers
The Native Speaker (NS) category is for students who arrived in the United States after the age of 10 from countries where Russian is a required language or is spoken by a sizable portion of the population. Native Speakers are to be judged using the Level 4-5 materials and criteria.

In cases where a student’s category is not self-evident, teachers should consult with the Wisconsin regional co-chairs Sarah Linkert and Jacob Aehl. The ultimate decision as to the proper classification of such students rests with the regional chairs. Teachers are urged to distinguish carefully between heritage learners and native speakers.

The Olympiada competition is designed for middle or high school students (grades 6-12); students who have not yet reached grade 6 may participate if they can compete at the appropriate corresponding level for their category. Please contact the regional chair to determine the eligibility of younger students.


On the day of the Olympiada, students undertake three commissions, each competing at their registered level (see “Categories for Registration” section above).

Commission I: Speaking about yourself, everyday conversation
Commission II: Civilization
Commission III: Reading and discussion; recitation of a poem

Students have the potential to receive gold, silver, or bronze medals, and all participants receive an official participation recognition certificate.


A variety of enrichment activities for registered participants and their families will be held in coordination with the Olympiada. More information will be announced soon.


If you need an accommodation to attend this event, please contact sarah.linkert@wisc.edu. All accommodation requests should be made no less than two weeks before the event. We will attempt to fulfill requests made after this date, but cannot guarantee they will be met.