Contest Set for Best English Teacher

The American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study, or ACCELS, along with the Russian Ministry of General and Professional Education, Uchitelskaya Gazeta and the U.S. Embassy, announced Monday a Russia-wide competition to determine the nation's top 30 teachers of English language and American studies.

The winners, to be selected in May 1997, will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States to participate in a six-week academic seminar.

Funded by the U.S. Information Agency, with support from the Russian Ministry of General and Professional Education, the program will evaluate teachers on the basis of their professionalism, leadership ability, skill in teaching English language and American studies, originality in teaching methods and ability to perceive and work fruitfully with the diversity of opinion among students.

Regional committees of Russians and Americans will choose from five to 20 finalists from each region.

A national jury of Russians and Americans, including specialists as well as high school students who are alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs, will thin the field down to 225.

These finalists will each receive $200, and their schools will receive $2,000 to put toward language-learning equipment.

In the final stage, contestants will have personal interviews with jury members in English. The jury will then choose the 30 winners.

According to U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, over 15,000 Russians have come to the United States on exchange programs in the past three years.

"The networks that have developed between schools and universities and institutes in each of our countries insures that communication among us is secure and will prosper for some time to come," he said. "I think this program is worth every penny we put into it."

American teachers will be selected in a parallel competition to attend the U.S. seminar with the Russian winners, and later they will travel to Russia for two weeks to meet with them.

Vladimir Shardikov, Russia's first vice minister of general and professional education, said that while the United States is looking to the competition as a way to spread the English language and American studies, the Russian side is looking to it as a way to "stimulate our teachers."

"I think you'll agree that a professional trip to the United States is a good stimulus for a teacher," he said.

The competition is open to Russian citizens currently teaching English or American studies at a Russian secondary school.

They must have at least five years of teaching experience and cannot have participated in any other U.S. government-funded programs. Further information is available from the ACCELS office in Moscow at 237-9116.