2022 Wisconsin ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian

1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2021
Location TBD (UW-Madison Campus)

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 co-chairs Sarah Linkert and Jacob Aehl.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.


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.

There is a registration fee of $6.00 per student. All teachers or adults who sponsor and chaperone students must be members of ACTR for the current year. New 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 Tuesday, March 01, 2022. 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 and Compliance.

Teachers/Sponsors: Register your school here (form should be completed once only for the entire school) and register your students here (complete one form per student).

Per ACTR’s policy, students who are not enrolled in a formal program of study may participate:

1) If a student’s school does not have a formal Russian language program, they may participate with the approval of the state or regional chairperson;

2) If the school or institution has a formal Russian program in which the student is not enrolled, they may not register for the Olympiada, unless they have exhausted all of the school’s offerings in Russian;

3) If the student is otherwise eligible, a teacher, tutor, or other adult may sponsor the student.  The sponsor must become a Regular Member of ACTR, pay the appropriate dues in the Pre-College Teachers category ($50), and chaperone the student at the Olympiada. 

4) If the state or regional competition collects a school participation fee in addition to the ACTR participation fee (currently $6.00), it will be the state or regional chairperson’s decision as to whether an individual student participant’s sponsor is liable for that fee.

For questions related to participation when not enrolled in a formal study program, please contact the regional co-chairs.


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

Preparation materials are organized by level and located on the ACTR Olympiada website.

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


The following schools have confirmed their participation in the 2021 Wisconsin ACTR Olympiada:

Erudite Russian Language Club
Madison Russian School
Community Language School Polyglot


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.