Olga Kagan

Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of Applied Linguistics (zero appointment)

Interests: Heritage language education; foreign language teaching

326B Humanities Building, UCLA
Tel. (310) 825-2947
FAX (310) 206-5263

E-mail: OKAGAN@humnet.ucla.edu; okagan@ucla.edu

Ph.D. (Dissertation "Theory and Practice of Writing a Learner-Centered Textbook of Russian as a Foreign Language"), Pushkin Russian Language Institute, Moscow, Russia.

What I do now:
Director, UCLA Center for World Languages and National Heritage Language Resource Center
Coordinator and Undergraduate Advisor, UCLA Russian Language Program
Director, UCLA Russian Flagship Program
Co-editor, Heritage Language Journal

I've been teaching at the University of California since 1976, first at UC Riverside, and since 1981 at UCLA. In the past several years my main research and teaching interests have been heritage language learners. In 2000 I co-authored a textbook, Russian for Russians, for students who speak Russian at home but do not have sufficient literacy in the language. I am happy to see that the textbook is currently used at about thirty universities around the country. It means that many Russian programs are offering special instruction to heritage speakers of Russian. Since then I have co-authored three more textbooks for heritage learners of Russian.  Two of them were co-authored with colleagues from Israel, Germany and Russia and they serve heritage language learners not just in the United States, but in any country that has Russian immigrant populations.

In 2006 the UCLA Center for World Languages was awarded a four-year Title VI grant to create the National Heritage Language Resource Center, devoted to research, teacher training, and materials development for heritage language instruction.  We were also fortunate to be awarded funding for the Center in 2010 (2010-2014).  Among its many activities, the Center publishes an online peer-referred Heritage Language Journal http://www.heritagejournal.ucla.edu

What I like doing:
See above under "What I do now".

Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Post-secondary Level, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European languages, 2003.
Two book awards  (see Publications below)

Program Reviews:

In the past 10 years:

Harvard University Slavic Department
UC Santa Cruz, Foreign Language Program
University of Kentucky, Program in Vladimir, Russia
Middlebury College, The Russian School
Indiana University, Summer Slavic Workshop
University of Washington, Seattle, Uzbek Program

Recent UCLA Service

UCLA Committee on Teaching

UCLA and UC-wide Committee on International Education

Professional Service:
2000 –2011 member, Steering Committee, UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching
1998-2001: vice-president, the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages (AATSEEL)
2000: advisory board member, CAL Russian web-based exam project
1991 – 2011: Member, Board of Directors, the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR)



♦  Kagan, O. E., & Kudyma, A. S. (2012). Uchimsya pisat' po-russki: Ekspress-kurs dlya dvujazychnykh vroslykh [Let's write Russian: An express-course for bilingual adults]. St. Petersburg, Russia: Zlataust.  

♦  Niznik, M.; Vinokurova, A.; Voroncova, I.; Kagan, O.; Cherp, A. (2012).Русский без границ 2. Фонд Русский мир.  Published in Israel.

♦ Kudyma, A. S., Miller, F. J., & Kagan, O. E. (2010). Beginner's Russian: A Basic Russian Course. New York, NY: Hippocrene Books. Includes online interactive workbook.

♦ Niznik, M.; Vinokurova, A.; Voroncova, I.; Kagan, O.; Cherp, A. (2009). Russkij bez granic [Russian without borders]. Old City of Jaffa, Israel: Israeli Association for Immigrant Children. Available on line at http://www.iaic.org.il/RusskiyYazik.ru

 ♦ Rifkin, B., & Kagan, O., with A. Yatsenko. (2006). Advanced Russian through History, Yale University Press.

 ♦ Kagan, O., Miller, F., & Kudyma, G. (2005). V Puti: Russian Grammar in Context (2d edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

♦ Kashper, M., Kagan, O., & Morozova, Y. (2005). Cinema for Russian Conversation. Volumes 1 and 2. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishers.

♦ Kagan, O., Akishina, T., & Robin, R. (2003). Russian for Russians: Textbook for Heritage Speakers. Bloomington, IN: Slavica. Award for Best Contribution to Pedagogy, AATSEEL, 2004

♦ Akishina, A., & Kagan, O. (2002). Uchimsja Uchit’ ["We’re Learning to Teach"] (2nd expanded edition). Moscow: Russian Language Publishers.

♦ Kagan, O., & Kashper, M. (2000). Chukovskaya’ s Sofia Petrovna: Student Edition. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishers.
Russian page-by-page vocabulary: http://www.pullins.com/petrovna/index4.htm

Edited volumes:

  • D. Brinton, O. Kagan, & S. Bauckus (editors). (2008). Heritage Language Education: A New Field Emerging. Routledge.
  • Kagan, O., & Rifkin, B., with S. Bauckus (editors). (2000). The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures, Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers. Award for Best Contribution to Pedagogy, AATSEEL, 2001.

Book chapters:

♦ Kagan, O. & Dillon, K. (2012)  Heritage languages and L2 learning, The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. S. Guss and A. Mackey Editors. London: Routledge. pp. 491-505

♦ Kagan, O. & Dillon, K. (2009) Russian in the United States  In Potowski, K.  (Ed). Language diversity in the United States.  Cambridge University Press. pp. 179-194.

♦ Kagan, O., & Dillon, K. (2004). Heritage speakers' potential for high-level language proficiency. In H. Byrnes & H. Maxim (eds.), Advanced Foreign Language Learning: A Challenge to College Programs, pp. 99-112. Boston: Heinle/Thomson.

♦ Bermel, N., O.Kagan. (2000). The maintenance of written Russian in heritage speakers. In O. Kagan & B. Rifkin, with S. Bauckus (eds.), The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers.

In B. Leaver, B. Shektman (editors). (2002). Developing Professional-level Language Proficiency Cambridge University Press:

♦ Angelelli, C., & Kagan, O. Foreign Language for Heritage (Home-Background) Speakers: What the Superior Level Foreign-Language Course May Offer.

♦ Dabars, Z., & Kagan, O. Teaching Russian Language Teachers in Eight Summer Institutes in Russian Language and Culture.


O. Kagan and K. Dillon.  “Issues in Heritage Language Learning in the United States”  "Encyclopedia of Language and Education. Volume 4:  Second and Foreign language Education. Ed. N. Van Deusen-Scholl and N. Hornberger, Springer, 2008, pp. 143-156.

Recent articles in refereed journals:

• Kagan, O. & Kudyma, A. (2012) Heritage Language Learners of Rusisan and L2 Learners in the Flasghip Program: A Comparison. Rusisan Language Journal, Volume 62.  pp. 27-46.

• Carreira, M. & Kagan, O.(2011)  The Results of the National Heritage Language Survey: Implications for teaching, curriculum design, and professional development. Foreign Language Annals, Volume 44, No 1. pp. 40-64.

• Kagan, O.(2010)  Russian Heritage Language Speakers in the U.S.: A profile. Russian Language Journal, Volume 60. pp. 213-228

• Polinsky, M., & Kagan, O. (2007). Heritage Languages: In the 'Wild' and in the Classroom. Languages and Linguistics Compass, 1(5), 368-295. Retrieved from http://scholar.iq.harvard.edu/files/scholar/uploads/11/Offprint.pdf.

• Friedman, D., & Kagan, O. (2008). Academic writing proficiency of Russian heritage speakers: A comparative study, in D. Brinton, O. Kagan, & S. Bauckus (eds), Heritage Language Education: A New Field Emerging. Routledge.

• Kagan, O., & Dillon, K. (2006). Russian heritage learners: So what happens now? Slavic and East European Journal (50th Anniversary Issue), 50(1), 83-96.

• Kagan, O. (2005). In support of a proficiency-based definition of heritage language learners: A case of Russian. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 8 (2 & 3), 213-221.

• Kagan, O., & Friedman. D. (2004). Using the OPI to place heritage speakers of Russian. Foreign Language Annals, 36(4), 536-545.

• Kagan, O., & Dillon, K. (2001/2002). A new perspective on teaching Russian: Focus on the heritage learner. Slavic and East European Journal 45.3, 507-18, rpt. in Heritage Language Journal, 1.1 (www.heritagelanguages.org).