Dina Mokhnatkin, M.A.
Director of the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program, Professor Mokhnatkin has an M.A. in Russian Language and Literature and was a Research Fellow in Art and Architecture at the St. Petersburg Museum of History. She has extensive experience in teaching Russian language, literature, civilization and cultural studies at all levels in both the United States and Russia. For the past 9 years, Professor Mokhnatkin has been the Director of two Russian Immersion Programs at CSUN – the summer STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program and the year-long National Strategic Language Initiative Program (SLI). In addition, she has been the head of a study abroad program for the past 6 years in which students travel to Russia, organizing and coordinating an agreement between California State University, Northridge and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, Russia. Under her leadership, the program has become coveted throughout the United States and known for its focus, structure, and unprecedented results in achieving fluency in Russian language. Alumni of the program have gone on to employ the Russian language in their future endeavors, from translating at the Russian Winter Olympics in Sochi to teaching English in Russia at the University level while on Fulbright Scholarship.
Professor Mokhnatkin has also developed new curriculum for her Russian Studies program at California State University, Northridge utilizing her methodology and pedagogical skills. She has created new classes for the program, such as Russian Civilization, Russian Folklore, and Russian Business and Travel. Her topic of interest is the methodology of teaching Russian Language for non-native speakers.
She is very proud of the instructors who have worked with her for the past 9 years, as well as the several former participants of the program that also make up this year’s teaching assistant team.
Oleg Minin, Ph.D.
Dr. Oleg Minin has been the lead instructor of the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program and the Strategic Language Initiative Program for 8 years and has been instrumental in the creation of the Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program curriculum. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California with an emphasis on Language Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition. His areas of research and publication include literature, visual and performing arts of the Russian Silver Age and the Avant-Garde, the periodical satirical press of the Russian fin de siècle, J. Habermas’s social theory, P. Bourdieu’s theory of cultural production, and Russian artists in the United States.
Dr. Minin has experience teaching Russian language, literature, and culture at all levels. For the past two years he has been a visiting professor from Bard College in New York, and has returned to CSUN during the summer to continue his involvement with the STARTALK Program and to be a part of our team.
Tatiana’s professional experience in the United States includes teaching the Russian language at all levels as well as teaching Russian Literature. She has taught four years as a lecturer of the Intermediate Russian Conversation at the Strategic Languages Initiative program and four years at the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program at California State University, Northridge. Her qualifications include a graduate degree in Liberal Arts from Saint Petersburg which is her native city.
The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is an excellent and very effective program. She is happy to be a part of the STARTALK Team.
A native of Moscow, Irina Tkacheva-Kuzmina is fully trilingual in English, Russian, and Norwegian, and is conversationally proficient in Bulgarian. Her professional training includes Master’s degrees from Kent State University (KSU) in Russian-English translation and teaching English, and post-graduate training in teaching Russian as a second language from Moscow State University in Russia. In addition, in 2014 she earned a training certificate in teaching foreign languages from STARTALK. Irina has been teaching English as a foreign language to the international students at KSU, as well as Russian as a foreign language in several immersion programs in the USA, including STARTALK at California State University, Northridge and Concordia Language Village in Minnesota.
Irina is excited to share her knowledge of Russian language and culture with her students and is committed to bringing modern technology into the classroom to fully engage her students and enrich their educational experiences.
Komfort Akyempon, Research Assistant
I started preparation for the 2015 STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program with the faculty in 2014 during my final year of graduate school. Seeing the program from the beginning to end has been a very rewarding experience. In my position I get to see students bloom and become more comfortable with Russian and I am able to see ideas evolve from initial thoughts to fruition.
I received a master’s degree in linguistics in May 2015 and a teaching ESL certificate in December 2014 from California State University, Northridge. I plan on teaching ESL or English in high school or at the university level. In the near future I would like to complete a doctorate degree in education. I am particularly interested in curriculum design and organizational administration and policy.
The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is an excellent language immersion program. The program has proven success at boosting student’s scholarship applications, preparing students for the focus needed to complete graduate study, and giving students an edge above other applicants when applying for employment.
Noah Lloyd, Teaching Assistant
I am currently a senior at California State University, Northridge where I am majoring in History and minoring in Russian Studies. I am an alumnus of the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program and the Strategic Language Initiative Program, both of which were unforgettable experiences.
This summer, I am a teaching assistant for the Novice-Mid class. I have really enjoyed working with the students and helping them to increase their proficiency in Russian.
I plan to continue my Russian Studies in grad school, where I will be focusing on Soviet history.
Alexey Balan, Teaching Assistant
I was born and raised in Ukraine until the age of 11 and I am fluent in Russian. I plan to use Russian in a clinical environment, in a business environment, and more. I have just obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in kinesiology with the exercise science option from California State University, Northridge in May 2015. In the future I plan to work in the physical therapy field, the personal training field, or in any field related to fitness.
The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program always provides a great learning environment for both the fellow staff and the students.
Artur Galstyan, Teaching Assistant
I am a graduate student at the University of Southern California. I received my undergraduate degree in International Relations and Russian Language and am continuing my graduate studies in Public Diplomacy. I started learning Russian in high school in Armenia and liked the language and decided to continue developing my proficiency.
I am hoping to get a Rotary or Fulbright scholarship and spend a year in Russia to improve my skills. After graduation I hope I will have the opportunity to work in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. I was in the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program last year and I am really glad I got an opportunity to work for the program as a teaching assistant this year. The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program always provides a great learning environment for both the fellow staff and the students.
Tikhon Schnittke, Teaching Assistant
I’ve grown up speaking Russian and I have treasured that ability all my life. I plan to use Russian in many ways: I go to Russia regularly to visit my family and I hope to study abroad in Moscow one day. This language has a rich variety of literature that could take a lifetime to explore.
After I finish my studies at Pasadena City College, I plan on spending some time as a researcher in my field, geology/environmental science, and then explore education.
I was a part-time teaching assistant in the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program and could only work once a week; however, with each passing week I was impressed at the tremendous improvement of every student.