UH’s STARTALK Program Trains Teachers of Chinese as a Second Language

HOUSTON, May 5, 2015--The University of Houston will offer 20 educators the opportunity to master teaching the language spoken in the nation with the world’s largest population—China — thanks to a federal grant.

The Chinese Studies Program received a grant of nearly $90,000 from the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) to sponsor the STARTALK Texas Teacher Program. STARTALK is a language-learning program established by President George W. Bush in 2006 as part of the NSLI to expand national capacity in critical languages. The Texas program is open to teachers of Chinese as a second language in K-16 public and private schools, community colleges and Chinese heritage schools in the state.

“It is a great honor for me to receive this highly competitive federal grant,” said principal investigator Sharon Wen, professor and director of UH’s Chinese Studies Program. “Our team endeavors to serve the needs of Chinese language teachers at the state and national level and build a quality program that brings a strong impact to language teaching and learning in the U.S. and globally,” Wen said. “In doing so, we want to fulfill the goals of being ‘locally responsible, nationally competitive, and globally recognized.’ I also am grateful to the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Steven Craig, for his inspiration and substantial help.”

This year, the STARTALK program training runs from July 6 to 17 with a follow-up session Nov. 1. The program offers a three-credit graduate course, which can be applied toward teacher certification in Chinese, teacher certificate renewal or a Master of Arts in teaching Chinese. Participants will develop an understanding of the process of learning Chinese as a second language, and analyze critical issues in Chinese language acquisition and instruction.

Each participant will develop a program project based on his/her teaching needs, implement the project when returning to school in fall, evaluate it in actual teaching and report the results to the class in the follow-up session. This year’s training is the third program that UH has sponsored. The 2012 and 2013 programs were equally successful, each drawing 20 participants, according to Wen.

Staff reports