Club bringing together Russian speakers in shared passion for language


Sally Parampottil

Coppell High School teacher Michael Egan teaches the members of Russian club the basics of the language after school. Egan is fluent in six languages, with Russian being his first language.

Akansha Singh, Staff Writer

From script to structure, English and Russian are very different languages.


However, a number of students at Coppell High School have personal connections to the language or are interested in learning Russian, just as they would learn a language that is normally offered as a class, such as Spanish or French.


For this reason, CHS seniors Ruben Mikaelyan and David Trakhtengerts, along with CHS sophomore Dasha Ellalasingham, created an after-school Russian Club, sponsored by CHS Spanish and French teacher Michael Egan.


“We know there are a lot of language classes at the school, and Russian is something that people are interested in, so we just decided to create the club in order to be able to offer the students a way to learn the language,” Mikaelyan said.


A variety of people have joined the club, some of whom know Russian fairly well, and some who are completely new to the language. Despite these differences, all students interested in learning the language or furthering their knowledge of it are welcomed.

Coppell High School’s newly founded after-school Russian club takes note of various accent marks and pronunciations of the language. Their sponsor, Michael Egan, is a native Russian speaker and enjoys spreading his knowledge of the culture. Photo by Sally Parampottil


“We’ll be discussing culture, we’ll be discussing linguistic aspects,” Egan said. “It’s basically a glorified Russian class.”


From the club’s very first meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, Egan taught students the characters of the Russian alphabet, how to pronounce them and how to apply that knowledge to pronounce Russian words and phrases. In an lively fashion, he would demonstrate actions relating to certain phrases and occasionally give instructions in a language other than English if he knew a student spoke that language.


Coppell High School Russian club has taught several students some basic words and phrases afterschool from 4:10 to 5:00 in C125 with sponsor and CHS teacher Michael Egan. The Russian club aims to introduce members to both the Russian language and culture. Photo by Sally Parampottil

By the end of the hour-long meeting, each member left with at least one page full of notes and a new understanding of a foreign language that they hoped to refine at the next meeting.


“We’re starting with the basics at A-B-C’s, and then from there, we will build; we’ll simply treat it as if it were Russian I,” Egan said.


For Mikaelyan, Traktengerts, Egan and Ellalasingham, the club also serves as an important connection to their heritage. Egan himself was born in Russia; because of this, he sees an importance in sharing his culture.


“For me, it’s a matter of pride,” Egan said. “I’m very proud of my heritage and the fact that I have influenced Coppell in a sense that I have students who are coming here purely just to learn the language, especially from a native – it doesn’t get better than that.”


Both Mikaelyan and Trakhtengerts have parents who were born in the Soviet Union and learned Russian as a result; because of this, the Russian language holds a large significance to them.


“The Russian language is very close to us, and it’s something that we’re proud of because of the diversity in this school- that’s something we would like to share,” Trakhtengerts said.


In addition, having Egan, a native Russian speaker and lover of languages, teach the class is something the club leaders consider to be extremely beneficial.


“I honestly don’t think we could have found anyone better for this, who would be willing to do this club to the quality that [Egan] teaches,” Mikaelyan said. “Sitting in his classroom to learn Russian even for 10 minutes was phenomenal, and we’re really thankful that he’s taking an hour out of his own day to teach people a language that they want to learn.”


Currently, 22 students have expressed interest in the club – a number that the club leaders are excited to be able to share their heritage and interests with.


“It’s fantastic. I didn’t expect this club to be anything more than just a few people that are super interested, but we got a broad amount of different people who want to just learn something and better their understanding of another culture,” Trakhtengerts said.


Egan said he would like to see CHS offer a Russian class as a next step from the Russian club; for now, however, he plans to teach the basics of the language in the after-school meetings.


For those who may be interested in joining the club or learning Russian, the club leaders emphasized their open-door policy: any student is welcome to experience the club and try their hand at Russian, no matter their skill level.


“If you have any interest, if you have any passion, if you have any curiosity of what Russian looks like, sounds like, trying to finally be able to tackle what may seem impossible [because a language does seem very intimidating at first], then please come,” Egan said.


Anxiety with learning a new language or taking on any new endeavor is common. However, the club leaders aim to dispel any fears students may have. Most students in the club found that they were able to learn a substantial amount of Russian basics in just a one-hour period, and because of this, they see a promising achievement of being able to learn a new language through the club.


“Don’t be scared,” Trakhtengerts said. “The Russian language is fantastic, and even though it seems really confusing or if you don’t know anything about it, just come and we’ll have a great time.”


Follow Akansha on Twitter at @akanshas120.