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What Do Students Say?

Find more student testimonials in The Polyglot, the Workshop's alumni newsletter.

Dean, Level 1, Russian, 2013

I highly recommend the Workshop for government and military personnel seeking opportunities to acquire, improve, or even maintain their foreign languages skills. The proficiency and professionalism of the teaching staff is outstanding, and the impressive caliber of the students attending the program raises the bar even higher.

The sheer volume of coursework covered in such a small timeframe, with its resulting imparted knowledge, is nothing short of amazing. Expect to work hard and remember to make an effort to participate in all the extracurricular learning opportunites provided by SWSEEL; you will walk away with a world-class education.

Tucker, Level 1, Arabic, 2013

Participating in the Workshop through IU Project GO was one of the most unique and beneficial training opportunities I took part in during ROTC. The language training was superb, and I loved how the program brought in professionals from both the military and government to highlight career opportunities for language speakers. I would highly recommend this program to cadets and midshipmen at any point in their ROTC careers.

Tyler, Russian, 2012 and 2013

[The Workshop] has brought me two great opportunities as an undergraduate. It has positively and incredibly changed my course of study for the better...

For the study abroad program I am now on in Moscow, I needed to already have "advanced Russian language skills" in order to enroll, as the international relations courses I am taking are taught in Russian. Level 8 of [the Workshop] in the summer of 2013 was the perfect boost I needed to reach this level.

Now I am in Moscow studying at MGIMO until the end of June of 2014, and my Russian is improving every day at a very satisfying rate. None of this would be possible without [the Workshop], and I am very thankful!

It seems that my experiences at SWSEEL will continue to serve my academic and professional interests in the future.

Payton, Level 1, Russian, 2012

My language studies, with the help of [IU] Project Go and the beneficial consequences it brought me, have made many opportunities available to me that I would not have had access to before.

Brady, Level 1, Russian, 2012

[The Workshop] definitely gave me an incredible base in the Russian language, so that when I was in Russia, I was able to focus on improving my proficiency in the language, rather than having to learn it from the start. I plan to apply for Air Force assignments where I can continue learning and using my Russian language skills

Alex, Pashto, 2011

Studying Pashto with [the Workshop] helped me expand my resume and language abilities thus helping me qualify for the opportunities I have received since [the Workshop]. Thank you for that opportunity!

Lauren, Level 1, Polish, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2011

Lauren Hansen

I am very pleased that Indiana University, through its [Workshop] program, was able to offer me the opportunity to accomplish my goal of learning Polish in the summer.

I got to know and interact with a tight-knit group of colleagues in a new, exciting way, and this program gave me a good basis for continuing Polish in the fall.

I was amazed at how much I had learned by the end of 8 weeks, thanks to the very helpful and knowledgeable instructor.

Cassidy, Level 1, Macedonian, 2011


[The Workshop] helped me learn Macedonian before going there on a Fulbright to study.

I find I can get most simple stuff done over here with no problem - and I had never taken Macedonian before this June!

The professors were always willing to go above and beyond and help us learn!

Tyson, Level 1, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, University of Washington, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011

2011 is actually my fourth summer at [the Workshop]! I know it is probably time for me to move on, but the summers here are just so rewarding. The intensity of the schedule and the quality of the instruction forces you to study hard, but you can also play hard at [the Workshop] because Bloomington is such a great town. As a result, you have this powerfully compact and balanced summer. That's why I keep coming back, because it is a time when I feel like I am living life to the fullest.

Weston, Level 3, Russian, Florida State University, 2010

I'm a two-time alumnus of [the Workshop]. The high quality of instruction enables students to learn and retain the material presented to them in class. Together with formal instruction, the exposure to foreign culture and opportunities for language immersion outside class make [the Workshop] an excellent way to improve language skills in a short time. It's also ideal for graduate students, enabling us to acquire the skills we need in the summer without interfering with our coursework during the regular school year. I plan on returning this coming summer.

Clint, Level 1, Georgian, Indiana University, 2010

My experience with [the Workshop] was absolutely remarkable. The instructor was phenomenal and showed a genuine concern for making sure that her students grasped the material well. I was amazed at how quickly our class was able to progress and that we were able to converse entirely in Georgian in a relatively short time. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in Georgia. Additionally, the entire [Workshop] staff was wonderful, and the extracurricular activities that were arranged certainly served to improve the learning environment. Once again, I would recommend this program without hesitation.

Michal, Level 1, Yiddish, Michigan State University, 2010


When I told my friends that I was going to be studying Yiddish in Indiana they looked at me with a puzzled look on their faces. "Yiddish? In Indiana? Do those two even go together?" I had no idea what to expect from Yiddish or from [the Workshop], but I was impressed with the program. I especially loved our small class, where everyone got to know one another very quickly and made learning less stressful and more supportive. My professor was great - she took the time to offer just the right balance of history and culture, in addition to language instruction to give a comprehensive and contextual look at Yiddish in the past and today. [The Workshop's] dedication to offering cultural activities - dance, lectures, movies, and poetry readings - again showed the importance of learning a language deeply rooted in the context the culture, not just out of a textbook in a classroom. My summer at [the Workshop] has given me the basis I need in doing archival work in Yiddish in order to complete my dissertation. I recommend [the Workshop] to anyone studying Eastern European or Central Asian languages!

Michael, Level 8, Russian, University of Virginia, 2010

I learned so much by studying in [the Workshop]. The teachers are incredible, the students are outgoing and enthusiastic, and the program offers a wide variety of exciting cultural activities. The films, lectures, and intensive sessions of music, dance, and cooking instruction made the curricula stimulating and entertaining. I enjoyed a considerable degree of intellectual freedom while immersed in the close-knit community of scholars at IU. My instructors and peers always challenged me to engage new ideas and perspectives and I genuinely looked forward to every lesson. My Russian language proficiency improved drastically in every capacity. I would recommend [the Workshop] to anybody interested in expanding his or her understanding of foreign languages, cultures, and peoples. Studying in [the Workshop] is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Kate, Level 8-9, Russian, University of Michigan, 2009

[The Workshop] is so popular and well-respected among area scholars, it is almost a rite of passage for anyone doing research or policy work in the region. But what a fun rite of passage! [The Workshop] somehow manages to be both rigorous and laidback. I took an advanced Russian class in order to refresh and improve my language skills right before embarking on long-term dissertation fieldwork, and while in the field, I often found myself silently thanking my [Workshop] instructors for pointing out nuances of the language. The small class size fostered individual attention, and the unusual 9-level system ensured that the instructors could focus very specifically on the problems we were having. I left the class confident that I could participate in Russian-language academia -- and even win an argument with a train attendant.

Shay, Levels 7 and 8, Russian, Jewish Theological Seminary, 2009 and 2010

As a PhD student looking to build my knowledge of Russian for use in my research, I was recommended to take [the Workshop's] advanced Russian language course as it is well tailored to the needs and schedule of graduate students. However, when I realized that classes would run mainly in the mornings and early afternoons and that the program only lasts two months, I was skeptical. This didn’t seem to be long enough for the serious study of Russian at a graduate level. I found it hard to believe that the program could bring me to the level of Russian needed for my research. Once I graduated from the program, after two intensive months of study that included heavy emphasis on grammar and vocabulary on both reading and communicating skills and many extra-curricular activities, I realized how wrong I had been. I’m more confident in my Russian skills than ever and I find writing, reading, conversing and even watching movies in Russian easy and enjoyable. It is the combination of great native Russian teachers, a program perfectly designed for graduate students, and helpful directors that made the summer that my family and I spent in Bloomington one of the most meaningful and productive in my academic career.

Cory, Level 6 Russian, St. Petersburg State University, 2009

What struck me most about the Summer Workshop at Indiana University was how successfully it cultivated a sense of community at what I'd describe as three discernible levels: the classroom, where I spent every morning with a coherent and dedicated group of Russian students and a talented line-up of instructors; the workshop’s extracurricular components, where a lively and friendly community of Slavophiles gathered to watch films, share meals, listen to lectures, even sing and dance; and finally, the greater Bloomington area, where I could spend an afternoon at a café with my listening comprehension instructor, applying the skills we’d been fine-tuning in the classroom to a real-life setting. As a side-note, the Monroe County Public Library is really, really wonderful.

Peggy, Level 1 Romanian, Cornell University, 2009

My experience at [the Workshop] is making it possible for me to do the PhD dissertation research I want to do, by studying Romanian. The quick pace and intensity of the course are ideal for a linguist like me, or for someone who's already studied a foreign language.

Galina, Level 2 Azerbaijaini, non-student IU, 2009

I find learning Azeri from Vafa and Shahyar, our teachers, who grew up speaking Azerbayjani a very valuable experience. Being able to focus on one subject in a concentrated summer course has the advantage of undistracted singlemindedness. Our classes are small and the atmosphere is great, we laugh as we learn. Not only the language but also a folk wisdom is being passed onto us, together with the richness of Azeri music and culture. The language table adds another almost immersion opportunity which is the next best to actually living and learning in the country... We are also looking forward to watching some movies together in our free time and helping to host the "Silk Road" concert on the 8th of August Insallah.

Sarah, Level 2 Azerbaijani, Indiana University, 2009

Over two summers I have gained a very favorable impression of the entire pedagogical experience at [the Workshop]. Azerbaijani instruction is often difficult to find in the US, and the course allowed me to continue fast-paced Azerbaijani acquisition even when I wasn't in the country. For highly motivated students devoted to their target language, [the Workshop] provides all the opportunities and tools critical for rapid improvement in speaking, comprehension, reading and writing. The more the student invests in [the Workshop], the greater the rewards!

Carla, Level 1 Macedonian, Indiana University, 2009

[The Workshop's] Macedonian course provided me with instruction in a language that would have otherwise been very difficult to come by in an American institution. Beyond creating a productive, adaptable, and enjoyable learning environment, this year's instructor, Ognen Vangelov, has constantly supplemented our class with cultural, linguistic, and political anecdotes and information. Classes are intense, but they are personalized and interesting. A relaxed open-door policy is also useful for those looking to maintain existing knowledge in another [the Workshop] language outside of class. I am already confident in my ability to communicate in-country, and look forward to the final results!

Coady, Russian, Indiana University, 2009

When I entered [the Workshop] program, I had not used the Russian language in over a year. I found the program to be immensely helpful in both regaining the language abilities I had lost, and improving my comprehension. The three hours of grammar classes each day were particularly very helpful because they were taught entirely in Russian and addressed the specific needs of the individual students. My professor was certainly one of the best Russian professors I have ever had. She is a native of Moscow, comes only for the summer to teach in [the Workshop] program, and has a tremendous gift for teaching. The program provides the students with many other opportunities to practice Russian language, such as lectures, films, and a daily language table. The SWEESL program is excellent, and my language abilities have improved dramatically because of it.

Lauren, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Level 1, Indiana University, 2008


[The Workshop] provided me with a great jumpstart for my language studies in graduate school. After taking Introductory Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian at [the Workshop], I entered second year BCS in the fall full of confidence and enthusiasm. Lidija was a fabulous teacher and I would recommend her course to anyone.

James, Russian, Level 7, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2008

The success of any program designed to promote foreign language acquisition and expansion is validated by actual improvement on the part of the participants. In this and other regards, [the Workshop] fulfilled its purpose. The program was a tremendous asset in elevating my language skills. Moreover, it simultaneously provided me with an accurate assessment of problem areas requiring more disciplined attention. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can provide is that I will be returning for [the Workshop] 2009.

Caress, Russian, Level 5, Miami University (Ohio), 2007

My [Workshop] experience helped me to truly digest language in a way that typical classroom learning had not. The relationships I made during the SWSEEL program continue to be valuable both personally and professionally, providing unique interdisciplinary insight to my studies.

Dan, Russian, Level 7 and 8, University of North Carolina, 2007 and 2008

[The Workshop] program is excellent in many ways. The teachers are all top-notch. My teachers were all native Russian speakers who had extensive pedagogical experience. They were demanding but they made the classes enjoyable, which is important in the home-stretch of the eight-week course. The teachers also lived in the dorms so I had tremendous access to them and could easily get help outside of the classroom. The program is well-designed in that, along with grammar, there are conversation, phonetics, and listening comprehension components. Also, the 9 levels are designed in such a way as to minimize significant differences in students’ abilities in a given class. Moreover, I really enjoyed being with so many other students (both at the graduate and undergraduate level) who shared a similar enthusiasm for Russian culture and history. I made many friendships that have continued beyond the Peasant Disco and the final.

Tim, Turkmen, Levels 1 and 2, Ohio State University, 2007 and 2008

[The Workshop] has been a great joy for me every time I have participated. The Turkmen program is really top-notch, which is fortunate since it is the only one in the entire country. I made noticeable progress in the language both summers and was extremely fond of the teachers for both levels. [The Workshop] likewise has a good mix of extracurricular activities like picnics, lectures and intramural sports that not only make the program unique, but highly enjoyable as well. I also love [the Workshop's] atmosphere of internationalism. It is like a summer camp at the U.N.

Ksenia, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Level 1, Indiana University, 2008

My experience was positively remarkable. Lidija, our instructor, is amazing: she enjoys teaching and knows how to do it well. Virtually all the class materials were of her authorship, and I still treasure her numerous cogent grammar handouts.

A rigorous language program supplemented by the official extracurricular activities and lectures offered by [the Workshop] and the ‘unofficial’ ones (in which the ‘South Slavs’, as we liked to call ourselves, on occasion indulged) produced outstanding results. I feel I have acquired a firm foundation for further studies and would without reservation recommend this program to anyone seriously interested in the language.

David, Macedonian, Level 1, Yale University, 2007

Studying the Macedonian language at [the Workshop] was a fantastic decision. Our teacher was excellent and her classes were always well-organized and never dull. Moreover, [the Workshop] creates a very encouraging, positive environment for learning. I learned just as much from my fellow students as from my teachers and still keep in touch with many of them. The many lectures and events also gave us the opportunity to learn not just about Macedonia, but about the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a whole. Overall a highly productive and thoroughly enjoyable summer.

Perry, Russian, Level 6, and Georgian, Level 1, University of Michigan, 2005 and 2008

I've had the opportunity to participate in [the Workshop] for Russian in 2005 as well as Georgian in 2008. Both experiences were excellent. I highly recommend the program to anyone serious about improving his or her language skills. The instructors foster a relaxed but intense atmosphere ideal for language learning.