The University of Iowa

Startalk Grant Brings Intensive Chinese Courses to Iowa

June 2nd, 2010

The University of Iowa Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature has been awarded a $100,000 Startalk grant that has enabled intensive Chinese language courses for Iowa junior high and high school students this July.

This grant is a part of the National Security Language Initiative launched by the White House in 2006 to promote strategic, less commonly taught languages.

Twenty-five Iowa high school students will take part in a four-week intensive version of a 3-semester-hour UI course, Beginning Chinese. This course is offered by the Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures through the Division of Continuing Education.

Students are not required to have any previous Chinese knowledge and could apply for scholarship covering 70% of programs costs.

The STARTALK grant also gives Iowa 6-8 graders the opportunity to explore Chinese by enrolling in the Summer Foreign Language Institute. The course is for two weeks, and each student receives a $1000 scholarship that covers half the cost of the course.

This year, the theme of the program is “”An Educational Tour in China – A virtual visit of Chinese Cities and Educational Institutes.” The curriculum is organized around this theme. The focus will be on the following three areas: language (linguistic knowledge), content (world knowledge), and culture (target cultural knowledge).

A proficiency test will be administered after the course, and students are on target to reach the ‘novice high’ level on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) scale.

In addition to their language knowledge, students will be introduced to Chinese geography, cities, school and family life. Students will experience dorm life as they share rooms in nearby residence halls.

This opportunity was born out of collaboration between The University of Iowa’s Department of Asian & Slavic Languages and Literature, The Confucius Institute and the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.