The Second Language Studies Program and the Department of Linguistics & Languages at Michigan State University are pleased to offer a STARTALK synchronous online workshop on language-assessment development for teachers of Arabic and Russian. The workshop runs June 7 to 30, 2021, with follow-up components during the 2021-2022 academic school year. By the end of STARTALK CLAP, teacher participants will be able to identify best practices in foreign language assessment, fully implement online assessment tools they developed in the workshop, communicate effectively with students and other stakeholders (for example, parents, supervisors, administrators) concerning assessment processes and results, and share their assessment instruments with colleagues and other instructors of Arabic and Russian.

STARTALK CLAP is open to teachers of Arabic and Russian who will be teaching in U.S. middle schools (6th grade or above), high schools, community colleges, colleges, or universities during the 2021-2022 academic year. U.S. citizenship is not required: teaching Arabic or Russian in the USA is. Apply here! 

Program participants receive a full scholarship, which includes:

  • All course materials mailed in a bound packet to you at your home address, to arrive at least one full week before the workshop starts June 7, 2021.
  • One graduate-course credit from Michigan State University, which is transcripted and transferable.

Team Members

Paula Winke, MSU STARTALK CLAP Director
Dmitrii Pastushenkov, Lead Russian Instructor
Elizabeth (Lizz) Huntley, Lead Arabic Instructor
Caitlin Cornell, Accommodations Presenter
Jason Merrill, Placement Testing Presenter
Ayman Mohamed, Vocabulary Testing Presenter
Meagan Driver, Assessing Heritage & Multilingual Speakers Presenter
Koen Van Gorp, Task-based Language Assessment Presenter
Shawn Loewen, Instructed SLA Presenter
Penny Shanks, Lead Financial Officer
Carly Kabel, Financial & Logistics Team Member
Ben Lampe, Financial & Logistics Team Member
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Enrolled Instructor-Participants

Enrollment Update: We will enroll 20 instructor-participants total with full scholarships. The individuals below have obtained their MSU NetIds and email addresses as part of the application process, have filled out our internal, pre-program survey, and are on their way to being fully enrolled with scholarships. Stay tuned, as we will keep updating here. If you have questions about enrollment, please email Paula Winke at
Enrollment 50%

My name is Maryah Converse. I am a new PhD student on Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona, and an instructor in the Arabic program. I’ve been teaching Arabic to adults for the better part of fifteen years, specializing in the Levantine dialects of Jordan, where I taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Above all, I believe that anyone can learn Arabic, and have fun doing it!

My name is Islam Karkour, and I am the Lecturer of Arabic at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). I have a Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction, with concentrations in Second Language Acquisition and Intercultural Competence, from UNH. I am a former Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, and I am an ACTFL-certified Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) tester/Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) rater. My interests include the relationship between intercultural competence and foreign language education, curriculum design and development, and educational technology. As an Arabic instructor, I utilize a flipped classroom method to help my students improve their language skills and intercultural communicative competence.

My name is Tanya McIntyre. I am an Associate Professor of Russian at Kent State University. I have worked with STARTALK programs since they began offering Russian. I was a co-director of the STARTALK KSU Foreign Language Academy in 2019. I strive to create a learner-centered classroom with 90+% TL use.

My name is Irina McLaughlin. I’m a Russian and Educational Technology instructor at Utah State University. I graduated from Dnipro National University (Ukraine) and Utah State University. As a teacher, I create a welcoming environment where my students can feel more comfortable to demonstrate their ability to learn and succeed.

Greetings from Svetlana Nuss! I am a literacy enthusiast. I have worked with language and language teaching in elementary, secondary, community, and tertiary settings. I believe in collegiate collaboration: serve on boards of two professional associations, consult school districts on EL instructional coaching, and teach online graduate teacher education program

My name is Katie Quackenbush and I am an Arabic teacher at Boston Latin Academy in the Boston Public Schools. I teach Arabic levels 1-4 to students in grades 8-12. I earned my Masters in Teaching Arabic and French at Tufts University. As a teacher, I strive to build a student-centered, communicative, and exploratory classroom experience.

My name is Angelina Rubina. I am currently working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of South Carolina while pursuing a PhD degree in Linguistics (Second Language Acquisition) and an MA in Comparative Literature (Russian and English). I focus on Russian and English morpho-syntax and on the acquisition of Russian as a heritage or a second language. I am also interested in using technology in language teaching and in the effect of teacher-student interactions on student motivation to learn foreign languages.

My name is Iza Savenkova. I am a Visiting International Scholar in the Department of Russian at Dickinson College, where I have been teaching Russian language of all levels since 2018. I hold a master’s degree in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language from Lomonosov Moscow State University. Since 2018 I have served as a regular summer faculty member at the Middlebury College Cathryn Davis School of Russian. As I teach, I work to empower my students by creating an environment conducive to learning both in the classroom and in the real world.

My name is Luke Stratton. I teach Middle School Russian and French at Friends School of Baltimore. I completed my M.A. in Russian at the University of California, Berkeley. I create a classroom that encourages curiosity, play, and overall confidence in the target language.

My name is Olga Starchenko. I am a teacher of Russian language and literature for more than 20 years. Also, I am currently a Deputy Director at Russian School Olympus. During free time I write scientific articles about education.