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IWP’s language classes to be offered again in the spring

This fall, IWP began offering language classes for Arabic, Mandarin, and Russian, and the Institute is pleased to announce that they will be offered again in the spring.  

These classes differ from those offered at many other institutions because they are designed specifically for those pursuing a degree in international relations, and are tailored to the individual needs of students. In addition to learning to read, write, and converse in the language, students learn specific vocabulary that is necessary for their research. Emphasis is placed on political, economic, diplomatic, and military vocabulary. The classes also help students understand the mass media in the languages they are learning.  

“I have been teaching in several government agencies, and students who took classes in strategic languages benefit,” comments Prof. Basil Bessonoff, who teaches Russian at IWP.  “It was good for their work performance and their research. Very little of what is published in the world is translated into English. There is a great need for those with proficiency in strategic languages in the U.S. government, as well as at think tanks. In fact, at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), it has almost become a requirement to gain proficiency in Russian or Chinese.”  

These courses at IWP can help fulfill the language proficiency requirement for the Master of Arts in Statecraft and International Affairs. However, Vice President of Student Affairs Jason Johnsrud comments, “We encourage all students in all programs to take language classes.” And, Dr. John Tierney, Academic Dean Ad Interim, adds, “The knowledge of foreign language is a critical instrument in the study and practice of statecraft. Therefore, IWP encourages the study of a foreign language in its curriculum.”

Language classes can also be combined with an area studies course, such as Chinese Grand Strategy or Russian Politics and Foreign Policy, to develop a more thorough understanding of a region. These courses can also be taken as a part of IWP’s certificate and continuing education programs. The language courses are generally offered in the late afternoon, but there is an option this fall to take Russian courses on Saturdays.  

The graduate-level proficiency exam for language consists of an oral presentation based on the subject of a student’s research at IWP, as well as a demonstration of reading proficiency in the area of his or her research.  

Once a year for very advanced students, IWP will offer the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) exam through the University of London (the CIOL received a Royal Charter in 2005). This exam, which takes place annually towards the end of January, includes a comprehensive written section, requiring translation and text analysis.  The test can be taken for almost any language. It is proctored by Professor Bessonoff, who is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.  

Another opportunity for IWP students is the option of a language immersion program through AMBergh Education ( This program is created for working adults, unlike many other study-abroad programs at universities. Students can take courses one-on-one or in very small groups, and they can start a course on any Monday of the year. This program can take place in various locations abroad, including St. Petersburg, Morocco, Cairo, and several places in China. If a student is interested in studying Russian, Prof. Bessonoff recommends completing this program in Ukraine because no visa would be required, and the program is very much tailored towards the individual student.  

Students interested in the Chartered Institute of Linguists exam or the AMBergh program may contact Jason Johnsrud at