NSA awards continuation grant for Chinese STARTALK program

By

Roxane Barwick

The U.S. National Security Agency recently awarded the School of International Letters and Cultures a continuation grant in support of the ASU Chinese Language Camp: From STARTALK to Flagship. The highly acclaimed language learning program, STARTALK, was established by President Bush in 2006 as part of the National Security Language Initiative to expand national capacity in critical languages.

STARTALK has received widespread praise from the national language teaching community, students, parents and members of Congress. The intent of STARTALK is to provide summer language learning courses and teacher certification in less commonly taught languages for students and teachers at levels K-16.

Now in its fifth year, the ASU STARTALK program in Chinese offers a 15-day intensive residential program for motivated eighth- to 12th-grade students on the ASU Tempe campus. The program provides an opportunity for both heritage and non-heritage learners to explore and expand their knowledge in Chinese language and culture through a highly structured theme- and task-based curriculum. During the program, students receive instructions in Chinese language and participate in fun, hands-on cultural activities. After the program, students commit to the continued study of Chinese. 

In addition to lessons in Chinese language and culture, the program boasts a living-learning setting, where participants gain first-hand college life experience by living on the Tempe campus in student housing and attending classes taught by ASU faculty in campus classrooms. STARTALK students also discover the value and fun of learning and exploring the language and culture beyond a structured classroom setting with field trips to local cultural centers and events. The goal of the program is to create lifelong learners of Chinese language.

After completing the STARTALK program, students are encouraged to apply to the ASU Chinese Flagship program in the School of International Letters and Cultures. This undergraduate program is designed for Mandarin language learners who seek to achieve superior language proficiency while pursuing degrees in the academic major of their choice. This innovative curriculum is designed to produce graduates with dual strengths in professional-level Mandarin language proficiency and their chosen career domains.

In addition to the Chinese Flagship program for students of any major, the School of International Letters and Cultures offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in Chinese as well as Chinese summer intensive courses at ASU and at Sichuan University in China. 

"We are honored to have our ASU STARTALK program for high school students funded for the fifth year in a row," says program director Xia Zhang. "We have a wonderful summer of Chinese language and culture learning planned for students interested in a rigorous and fun experience."

The School of International Letters and Cultures is an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences