An intensive three-week program to teach Russian language and culture to Central Florida residents will be offered free this summer at UCF. The goal of the July 6-25 program is to teach anyone in the community to the level of making a successful business trip to Russia.

The federal STARTALK Program is the result of an $89,000 grant secured by Alla Kourova, a UCF assistant professor of Russian, and is available to anyone at least 15 years old. The program, sponsored by The National Security Language Initiative and U.S. Department of Defense, was established to expand and improve the teaching of strategically important world languages that are not widely taught in the U.S.

“This is very important because many students have never left Florida, and they need to learn another culture,” Kourova said.

The morning language sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by lunch provided by Lacomka, a Russian bakery and deli in Winter Park, and Russian cultural activities from 1 to 3 p.m.

The course will be in the Modern Languages and Literature Department of the College of Arts & Humanities with the support of the Russian-American Community Center in Orlando.

June 20 is the deadline to register for the limited number of spaces. To sign up, go to

Kourova has a Ph.D. from Moscow State University in teaching English as a foreign language and cross-cultural studies, as well as a master’s degree in speech therapy and teaching foreign languages. She came to UCF in 2007 as a visiting instructor and became an assistant professor in 2011.

She also is implementing a grant of nearly $100,000 from the U.S. Department of State as part of the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program. Her project combines teaching foreign languages to U.S. students and blind/visually impaired students in Russia.

The project involving six other faculty and 10 UCF students traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, next month is designed to strengthen mutual understanding and raise U.S.-Russian relations.

She has launched several projects through the years to show students the connection between the Russian language and culture, including hosting regular Russian tea gatherings and organizing a monthly Russian culture night.

In addition, she translates for the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s office in the area of International Security Policy-Eurasia, and last year she was awarded the University of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for the College of Arts & Humanities.

For further information about her programs, contact Kourova at