Grant helps spread Chinese language and culture in Alabama

Posted: Thursday, 17 April 2014

TROY - A federal grant from the U.S. Department of Defense National Security Agency will help Troy University teach two summer workshops in Mandarin Chinese.

The workshops are designed for 9th through 12th-grade Chinese language teachers - or those who aspire to teach the language - and high school students.

A 15-day residential program to train 12 teachers and 24 high school students from throughout Alabama and the southeast region is being supported by approximately $100,000 in federal funds for the Troy-STARTALK Program in Chinese.

"We want to encourage students to make foreign language study a lifetime pursuit while increasing each student’s level of proficiency," said Dr. Kathryn Hildebrand, Dean of the College of Education.

"Through the STARTALK programs, we do this through a model of language, leadership and study abroad," she said.

Students who complete the program have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs in China through the Confucius Institute at Troy University. In addition to the language studies, students will be exposed to Chinese culture through learning Chinese Kung Fu and Dragon dance, making Chinese-related arts and crafts, playing traditional games, cooking, and writing calligraphy.

"This grant is a significant achievement, and it provides a basis for the College of Education and the Confucius Institute at Troy University to partner in helping 9th-12th grade programs build a greater capacity for teaching Mandarin Chinese. At a time when our state looks to build greater economic bridges with Chinese business interests, this program will provide vital training" said Dr. Earl Ingram, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Teachers of Chinese will undergo intensive training and cultural immersion opportunities similar to the student workshop so that they will have a broader understanding of Chinese culture and thought when they return to their own classrooms.

The summer workshops will take place June 22 - July 6, on the Troy Campus. The program initially began for K-12th grade Mandarin Chinese teachers and was expanded to include students in grades 9-12 a couple years ago. STARTALK was launched nationally in 2006 with the goal to advance the nation’s capacity in critical languages.

The application deadline to apply for students and teachers alike is April 28. For more information, call 334-808-6544 or email startalk@troy.edu.