Olympiada of Spoken Russian

Special Event
Special event
Event Format
In person
Concourse, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies is proud to sponsor the New England Regional Olympiada for Spoken Russian. Organized nationwide since the 1960s by the American Councils for International Education (ACIE), the Olympiada is an opportunity for middle and high school students of Russian to test their knowledge of the language and receive recognition for their demonstrated proficiency.

Please Note: The Olympiada for high school students will take place concurrently with an Olympiada for New England College students. The college-level competition is being organized through Harvard's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. For questions about the college-level competition, please be in touch with Dmitrii Pastushenkov

Participating high school students will:

  • Compete individually in three "commissions": oral presentation, civilization, and reading (poetry recitation/retelling of a text).
  • Compete at levels determined by how long they have studied Russian -- first year students compete at Level One, second year students at Level Two and so on. Heritage speakers may also participate in the competition and generally compete at one level higher than their year of study.
  • Earn gold, silver or bronze medals based on their performance.

Students and teachers are encouraged to review ACIE's preparatory materials, which are broken down by both level and commission. Please note: the Davis Center has made some adjustments to these materials, which are explained below.

Oral Presentation Commission 

  • Students should prepare a brief, 3-5 minute speech about themselves to present to the Olympiada judge, with whom they will meet one-on-one. 
  • The judge will ask follow-up questions determined by the student's level of study. 

Civilization Commission 

  • Level One students should prepare using the Russian map. When they meet one-on-one with the Olympiada judge, they will be asked to speak about and identify locations on the map. 
  • Students at level two and above should prepare/study the topics listed below for their Civilization commission presentation. During the competition, they will be instructed to randomly pick a card from the judge featuring one of these four themes. They will then be asked to speak about the theme. 
    • Russian/Eurasian literature
    • Russian/Eurasian history and leaders
    • Russian map/geography
    • The city of Moscow or St. Petersburg
  • The judge will ask follow-up questions determined by the student's level of study. 

Reading Commission 

The reading commission consists of two parts:

  • Poem recitation: Participating students should memorize one poem provided in the ACIE materials and recite it to the Olympiada judge one-on-one.
  • Prose/story retelling: Participating students should also select one prose story from the ACIE materials and be prepared to 1) read the story to the judges 2) retell the story in their own words and 3) answer questions about the story.


The Olympiada for Spoken Russian will be held virtually on April 7, 2024 at 10am ET. To register, please complete this online form by March 15, 2024. 

All participating students must be represented by a teacher/parent who is a member of the American Councils

A Russian lunch will be provided to all participants as noon. High school students will have the opportunity to engage with college-level students of Russian over lunch. 

The cost of participation in this year's Olympiada will be covered by the Davis Center. 


If you have any questions about the New England Olympiada for Spoken Russian, please be in touch with Cris Martin



The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or daviscenter@fas.harvard.edu in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.