Critical Language Scholarship Program | Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Program Dates:

June 06 - August 07, 2024

Hosting Institution:

American University of Central Asia

The CLS Program in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is designed to cover the equivalent of one academic year of university-level Russian study during the 8-week program. Experienced faculty members are ready to meet the needs of students from a range of language levels and backgrounds, from those just mastering the use of grammatical cases to students polishing their command of the language for use in a professional sphere.

Students take three hours of Russian language class per day, five days per week, for the equivalent approximately fifteen hours per week of classroom instruction at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA). Founded in 1993 in the capital of newly independent Kyrgyzstan, AUCA is an international, multi-disciplinary learning community in the American liberal arts tradition. In addition to their Russian language courses, students also receive an introduction to the Kyrgyz language which helps them to navigate the city and communicate respectfully with members of their host community. Formal classroom instruction focuses on developing language skills through a range of methods including reading and understanding various texts, participation in discussions, and an introduction to popular culture and news materials. Students will also have a limited number of hours of Kyrgyz language instruction to help gain access to the community in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Cultural excursions, lectures, and other enrichment activities are designed to support and enhance language learning and deepen students’ understanding of the host culture. Activities that students may enjoy in Bishkek include visiting the Gapar Aitiev Fine Arts Museum, attending a concert at the Kyrgyz State Philharmonic Hall, learning about traditional handicrafts such as felt rugs, and exploring the mountains that provide a backdrop to the city.

With a population of over one million people, Bishkek is the largest city in the Kyrgyz Republic and is a fascinating place to spend the summer. The capital is a city of wide, tree-lined boulevards, which are popular with Kyrgyz families in the summer for after dinner strolls. The central Ala-Too Square features unique marble-faced public buildings, while the rest of the city is a combination of Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and new luxury high rise apartment buildings.

Students in Bishkek live with local host families for the duration of the summer, typically in apartment buildings but occasionally in private homes. Students can expect to spend a significant amount of time with their host families, eating breakfast and dinner together most days as well as relaxing on the weekend. Past students have often reported developing warm relationships with members of their host families and have spent time going on picnics, celebrating holidays and birthdays with extended family members, and discussing family and regional histories.

Students on the CLS program in Bishkek also meet regularly with language partners for more conversational practice and immersion in local life. Language partners may introduce students to local youth culture by going to one of the city’s many cozy and unique cafes or spending time chatting about current events while walking along Bishkek’s Erkindik Boulevard. Language partners are also prepared to assist students in navigating daily life in their host city, including shopping for necessities, scheduling haircuts, and purchasing tickets for concerts and events.