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STARTALK Chinese Language Program is back with new virtual format

Learning Chinese language and culture in WSSU STARTALK Chinese Immersion Program provides high-impact learning experiences for students.

WSSU Department of World Languages and Culture will now offer the STARTALK intensive Chinese summer program in a digital format.

Winston-Salem State University Department of World Languages and Culture will now offer the STARTALK intensive Chinese summer program in a digital format. Beginning July 12, the three-week program that explores the Mandarin language and Chinese culture will be available to high school and college students from anywhere in the world.

This competitive scholarship-based program is for students who are passionate about learning language and culture. A total of 40 students (30 high school and 10 college students) will be accepted into the tuition-free program. Prior Chinese language experience is not necessary for admission. 

STARTALK is a part of the National Language Initiative funded through a grant from the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The program’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical-need foreign languages - with programs for students (K-11) and teachers.

“Chinese is a critical-need language in the United States and has a high student enrollment next to Spanish and French in North Carolina. To learn a foreign language will be a true asset in the globalized world of today and will allow understanding of diversity as well,” said Dr. Wen Xiong, program director and chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at WSSU. “Young people need to know how to understand the cultural differences and commonality from different perspectives.”

This is the second consecutive year that WSSU has received federal grant funding to implement the initiative. 

“Although the 2021 program will be hybrid or online, it will still contain many of the immersive aspects of previous years,” said Xiong, who is also the co-director of the STARTALK Teacher Program at the University of Carolina at Greensboro. “The online components of our program will blend synchronous and asynchronous learning and offer a very low student to staff ratio - ensuring that the experience is productive and educational.”

In 2019, 30 students participated in the WSSU STARTALK Chinese program. Participants learned the Chinese language in a fully immersive environment while learning Chinese culture through food, exercise, music, and artwork. The 2021 learning theme is “Let’s Go to China.” Students will virtually explore three cities in China (Beijing, Chengdu, and Fuzhou) to learn about language functions related to travel, food, geography, community, and events.

The program participants included students from a wide range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds from Forsyth and Guilford Counties as well as other parts of the state.

“I knew that this would be a life-changing experience for us all,” said Scott Plaster, STARTALK program coordinator. “Learning a new language, along with its culture, helps students prepare for the real world where they can learn to accept diversity and use it as an advantage. This was such a great opportunity for our students.”

STARTALK is offered through WSSU’s Department of World Languages and Culture, which offers programs in five languages: Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili. The department is part of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education

Applications for the WSSU STARTALK Intensive Chinese Summer Student Program are open now through April 15. For more information about the program and how to apply, visit the STARTALK Chinese Language Program website.

More: WSSU receives $78,000 grant to offer STARTALK summer Chinese program

About Winston-Salem State University 
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. 

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