The STARTALK Chinese Language and Culture program just concluded its second year with a full class and parents requesting more. The department of world languages and literatures in the College of Liberal Arts received a STARTALK grant for the last two years to implement a three-week summer camp for seventh-12th graders to have a full-immersion Chinese language and culture experience. The all-day camp at the University of Nevada, Reno is a great community outreach experience incorporating teachers from the Washoe County School District, prospective students and University faculty.
Chinese lecturer in World Languages and Literatures and program lead lecturer, Lin Li Hall said, "[The program] offers a good opportunity to be able to collaborate with the school district Chinese teachers." Three teachers from the district taught Chinese at the program and received professional development credits for their service.
The National Foreign Language Center offers the STARTALK grant each year for programs offering critical language instruction and teaching. STARTALK auditors visit the program each year to ensure it's fulfilling its mission. This year, site visitors praised Hall's efforts for offering student-centered activities structured around the program's creative theme.
The theme for the program is Chinese New Year: the Customs, Legend and Drama. The curriculum is planned around teaching the Chinese language in conversation, reading and writing as well as the culture. Activities this year included calligraphy, where students learned to write in Chinese and Kungfu, where students listened to instructions in Chinese and repeated back the movements in Chinese as they were performed. "All activities integrate culture content into language instruction," said Hall.
The program is completely free for students and includes lunch and snacks. The program's success in its first year resulted in adding a second level for intermediate-level language students this year. Hall said she was happy that the program inspired so much interest in only two years. She said parents have been writing to say thank you and requesting Chinese language courses in the school district.
Hall is already planning for next year's program, preparing to write another grant proposal for funding. She hopes to continue the program's healthy enrollment of 30 students and encourage the community to have an interest in Chinese language and culture. "I hope to raise the interest of the local high school student, who will have benefited from our STARTALK program and will continue their Chinese studies at UNR," Hall said.
The STARTALK Chinese Language and Culture program plans to have next year's program and registration information online in February 2019.