Institute of Strategic Languages and Cultures

Institute of Strategic Languages and Cultures

Our Programs

A Word from our Director about language learning

Our journey into the language of the people God is calling us to is directly linked with our entry into their culture, their world and their trust.  It is extremely difficult to impact your “new people” without such trust, and learning to communicate is the bedrock for gaining this trust.  Depending on the approach that is taken, however, the effort to learn a second language and adapting to the culture can either be one of the most rewarding adventures in life, or an experience fraught with frustration and even depression.

Language programs at ISLC take into account the principles and strategies demonstrated in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research to be most effective for acquiring native-like proficiency in a new language. It is time for those serving cross-culturally to move beyond the mere fluency (ability to speak with native-like speed) that is developed with some approaches, and acquire true native-like proficiency, including fluency, accuracy, and good pronunciation.

We now know that the best approaches take into account both the target language and the individual’s learner profile so that all resources can be brought to bear to enable the development of true proficiency.  ISLC endeavors to provide every learner with his or her learning profile. Our training emphasizes the ability to communicate fluently and accurately.  Our instructors serve our students compassionately, and all our teachers excel in applying the most effective learning principles and methods to the learning experience.

Our Bottom Line

The bottom line for us is that we do not see our “institute” as a school.  It is God’s calling to help equip you to serve Him in a way that will remove the obstacles to native-like language abilities, proper acculturation, and effective ministry. The result is that ISLC alumni in the Russian world are known as some of the finest speakers of the language and most effective servants in that vast region. Our alumni have established many new ministries, from rescuing orphans and victims of sex trafficking, discipleship, new theological schools, campus ministries, and so much more. So thank you for giving ISLC a look as you consider where and how to approach learning your new language and adapting to your new culture.  May God’s richest blessings of grace, peace, and strength guide you and keep you for your own journey into His perfect will!

-Marc T. Canner, PhD

Emphasis on Communication

Because all courses emphasize communication (speaking and listening comprehension), more than half the day is devoted to conversational activities. Students also spend considerable time writing and reading. Activities each day include class instruction, listening comprehension exercises, small group conversation, written and oral assignments, and one-on-one assistance between instructors and students.

A Communicative environment emphasizing accuracy
The language learning approach in all ISLC programs and institutes is focused on communication, ensuring that students spend the majority of their time in conversational activities.  Experienced native speakers provide most of the instruction in conversation courses, while Americans proficient in the language provide grammatical instruction designed to promote accurate speech patterns.  Besides courses in conversation and grammar, students also participate in courses such as Learning to Converse; Intro to the Russian Bible (incorporated into Learning to Converse for Level One or Basic students); Bible and Apologetics (Level Two). We also augment the curriculum with additional needs when desired, such as vocabulary for businessmen, among others.

Basic and Intermediate level language courses are available.

Note: For a description of our Evening course offerings (when available), please see our Evening Course page, which is also found on the main menu bar.


The curriculum used at ISLC has several goals:

To provide missionary candidates with a strong foundation in conversational Russian, Chinese, or Arabic, emphasizing communicative skills for life and ministry in discipleship situations.

  • At ISLC we have developed an intensive learning environment where candidates develop strong conversational skills in the areas which are most vital for work and life in their new culture.
  • We also provide the kind of whole-life training, counsel and encouragement to enable individuals to fulfill their calling as effectively as possible.

For each student to attain a minimum proficiency of level 2 in reading and writing and level 2- in speaking and listening comprehension, regardless of a person’s language-learning aptitude (equivalent to government/foreign service guidelines).

  • The Russian Language Institute’s year-round training program held in Spokane, WA is a unique language-learning environment.  The institute’s courses are designed to allow the student to acquire as much proficiency as possible in the shortest possible time.
  • A similar structure is now being developed for our Chinese Language Insitute. We endeavor to provide the student with a caring, encouraging, and challenging language-learning environment, where the most effective language-teaching methodology is utilized.
  • It is our desire and hope to develop a similar year-round institute for Arabic in the near future.

To equip students with knowledge of the historical and cultural forces which have shaped the peoples of these regions.

  • ISLC seeks to address the critical need for missionaries to acquire a keen understanding of these cultures’ worldviews.  We therefore offer additional courses and seminars covering the history, cultural formation, religions and other essential aspects of the cultures of China, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.  Topics of study also include the critical issues and difficulties associated with church-planting and discipleship within such contexts, while a close partnership with Columbia International University affords students with additional options for training related to Islam, intercultural studies, TEFL, and a large array of other vital areas of study.

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Instructors and Texts

Instructors include Americans who are proficient in the language as well as native-speaking instructors. It is our goal that all instructors at ISLC hold to the highest standards of classroom instruction, teaching methodology, and personal integrity.

The primary texts include the following:

Russian: Golosa textbook series; Russian for Believers by Marc T. Canner, and the Russian Bible, Synod translation.

Chinese: Integrated Chinese, levels I & II, by Tao Chung Yao and Liu Yehua; The Chinese Bible.

A variety of culture and history-related titles are used for our culture seminars, including books covering religion, cultural history, cross-cultural adaptation, etc.  The titles we recommend are helpful for equipping  students with the skills and understanding to disciple new believers within the target culture.

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Intensive Russian Program Description (Arabic and Chinese Intensive Programs are similar)

ISLC’s intensive Russian program is designed with the specific needs of the individual in mind.

Each student is first tested to determine their language-learning aptitude profile (defined as an assessment of one’s natural  ability to learn a language such as Russian).  When class sizes permit, students of similar aptitude are grouped together for certain classes to enable each person to develop at a pace more consistent with their aptitude.  No matter the aptitude level of a student, special tutoring is often available along with in-class work to promote effective learning.

For each incoming beginning student it is recommended to take either our full 32-week Fall and Spring course. Although in the past we did offer a 24-week Spring and Summer Beginning level course, this is no longer available and a student may start their training in the Spring semester only if they currently possess the appropriate language proficiency. The Fall and Spring courses are 16-weeks each in duration. The Summer course, when available, is a 3-week intensive held overseas. This 3-week study abroad may be combined with a Spring semester for intermediate-level students who enter the 32-week program in January. If a student qualifies in terms of proficiency, any of these semester or summer courses may be taken independently.

The result of this system is effective and speedy language acquisition regardless of one’s personal aptitude profile.  Once enrolled, students are provided with a communicative environment in which strong conversation skills are emphasized in Learning-to-Converse and Conversation classes, in addition to grammatical instruction designed to enable the student to acquire accurate speech patterns as quickly and effectively as possible.  Areas covered by the program include vocabulary, expressions and communicative tasks related to life and ministry to promote fluency, grammatical accuracy in use of vocabulary and sentence patterns, and phonetics for good pronunciation.

Fall, 2016 Program Dates

August 22 – December 8, 2016 *

Enrollment deadline is July 31, 2016 (Requests for special arrangements related to the deadline are considered)

*Dates and tuition are subject to change

Cost Per Semester

I $3350.00 *

Enrollment deposit $100.00.  The enrollment deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to tuition.


Spring, 2017 Program Dates

January 30 – May 11, 2017 *

Enrollment deadline is January 11, 2017 (Requests for special arrangements related to the deadline are considered)

*Dates and tuition are subject to change

Cost Per Semester

I $3350.00 *

Enrollment deposit $100.00.  The enrollment deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to tuition.

Note: For those wishing to receive undergraduate credit for part of a Fall or Spring course, accreditation has been established through Moody Bible Institute. Tuition would be adjusted for credit and paid directly to the university. Participants may apply relatively easily as non-degree students. Please call us for more details at (800) 799-7976.

The enrollment deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to tuition. Tuition is due the first day of class. Payment may be made by check or money order. Payment plans are available and may be arranged prior to enrollment. Please contact ISLC/Russian Language Institute for more information. 100% of the tuition is refundable less the enrollment deposit and the cost of materials until the second week of classes – 50% of the tuition is refundable until the end of the fourth week of classes. Tuition is non-refundable following the fourth week.

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Summer Institutes ISLC Dates: Coming soon!

Plans are in the works for two Intensive Summer Institutes. We plan to conduct our first Intensive Arabic Institute in Spokane during the Summer, 2017. Additionally, we are planning a four-week Russian Study Abroad to be held in Kiev, Ukraine. For those who have completed the 8-month program or who have acquired the equivalent proficiency, this is an excellent option for further study while being immersed. See below for more information about Study Abroad. Academic credit for our Summer Institutes and Study Abroad program will be available through Moody Bible Institute, including up to six hours of undergraduate credit for the Summer Institute and 4 hours for the Study Abroad. Please contact us for further information. Summer Tuition: $2100 (non-credit). Tuition amount for full academic credit coming soon!

Housing options:   Contact ISLC for current housing opportunities at (803) 414-4665 or (800)799-7976
* Dates and tuition are subject to change. Please contact us for up-to-date schedules and pricing
Enrollment deposit $100.00. The enrollment deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to tuition.


RLI Abroad in Kiev: July 17 – August 9, 2017

In partnership with a local Kiev Christian Education Center, our bi-annual Russian Language Institute Abroad will be reconvened and held in Kiev, Ukraine during Summer, 2017. This program is designed for the student who already has a high novice, intermediate or lower advanced proficiency in Russian, and would like to take that proficiency to the next level.

Two intensive courses are offered for the 3-week program:  Correct Grammar in Spoken Russian, which enables participants to overcome common grammatical problems in speech and take their spoken proficiency to a more native-like and culturally-appropriate level; and Biblical Russian for Discipleship, a course that is designed to equip the student with the vocabulary and skills to discuss key aspects of the gospel and apologetics issues in Russian.

Study Abroad Schedule:

Classes meet about 4 hrs. each day, four days per week (both courses together). Classes will run from 8:30 am till 1:00 pm each day, with a teacher-student lunch following our last class. Each course will meet for 2 hours per day with appropriate breaks. Fridays will be devoted to morning forays and tours around Kiev, with afternoons devoted to study.

For students traveling abroad from the States (and those in-country who would like to join us), an additional four days will afford an opportunity to explore Ukrainian culture, history and current ministry opportunities during a tour of Western Ukraine.

Who can Apply?

Students who have studied intensively at RLI during the previous cycle, or who already have the appropriate level of proficiency for this course are welcome to apply. We also serve those who are already living and working in Russian-speaking countries.  To enroll, please first contact us at 803-414-4665 or by email at:

Please call ISLC at (803) 414-4665 for more information.

Summer RLI Abroad Tuition: $500.00 for the grammar course, $500.00 for the Bible course, or $900.00 for both courses taken together

Room & Board: TBA

* Dates subject to change due to scheduling needs

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History and Culture Studies

In addition to the language curriculum, all students participate in classes and seminars devoted to the historical and cultural development of modern Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. Vital aspects of Russian culture and history are explored through interesting seminars and special lectures. Students also prepare a regional field study for the specific region they are called to. Included is a survey of Russian history from the origins of Slavic peoples to the present age, various culture topics including orthodoxy, Marxist atheism,  Russian literature, the Arts, cross-cultural apologetics, and many others. Students are given opportunities to make acquaintances and explore contacts with Russian students, émigrés and businessmen living in the Spokane area.

Students also learn to pray in Russian, and gather together every two weeks to learn Russian praise and worship songs or watch a Russian film.

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Intensive Program Class Schedules

ISLC’s year-long intensives in Spokane, WA provide the student with four consecutive days of intensive training per week: Classes meet Monday through Thursday usually between about 8:30 am and 2:05 pm. Fridays are typically used by students to do some of the course work for the following week, while some students also meet with conversation partners. Every two weeks we also have Russian Movie Night on Thursday evenings. In general, students are in classes about 16-17 hours per week, with an additional 3 hours per week spent practicing course topics with a Russian conversation partner, which is one of the course requirements. A lunch break typically occurs prior to afternoon classes.

One of the key classes is Elementary Russian, which meets for 2 hours three times each week and introduces the student to main grammatical aspects of the language with much time spent practicing accurate speech patterns. During the Conversational Russian class, students learn how to converse and also receive training in phonetics for proper pronunciation. Topical Russian is the third main aspect of the language curriculum. In this class a native instructor leads students through the main topics of the Golosa textbook, providing opportunities to practice conversation in teacher-guided and small group activities.

Part of the day on Mondays and Wednesdays is devoted to the study of Russian Civilization, a course that introduces the student to key topics in Russian history and culture. Students also learn how to pray in Russian.

Students are also required to attend a Russian-speaking church service at least twice a month. Additional practice opportunities abound, and students may elect to attend a Russian Bible study or other Russian-speaking group through one of the many Russian Evangelical churches in town. In fact, all a student needs to do in Spokane is go to Walmart or one of the discount stores, and strike up a conversation with the many Russian speakers so commonly encountered here!

A one-week break is provided midterm during the Fall and Spring semesters, while a six-week break occurs between Fall and Spring semesters. Those who already possess the appropriate level of proficiency may begin the program in the Spring (Novice-High level Russian) and may plan to continue in the Study Abroad. In such cases a two-week Field study may be assigned between the spring and Summer.

Beginning in the fall, 2015, academic credit will be available through Moody Bible Institute for several of our first year courses, including Chinese.  Students may receive up to 9 undergraduate credit hours for each semester of the intensive program, covering most components of each 16-week semester course.

Intensive Study Abroad Class Schedule

During the Summer Abroad Program classes typically meet about five hours per day, M-F (a slightly more intensive experience), with a lunch break provided before afternoon classes. Classes will meet for a total of about 5 hours per day (including a half-hour lunch break), from 8:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. This time is followed by lab work on listening and speaking. with some afternoon excursions included to afford students opportunities to practice their speaking skills through specific communicative assignments.

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*Dates and tuition are subject to change