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STARTALK helps students learn Chinese language, culture

March 03, 2010

Last year, Chandler High School senior Faith Garvie started the STARTALK camp without really knowing any Chinese. 

“I went into the program knowing next to nothing about Chinese language and culture and emerged with a very good background in Chinese music, movies, art, history and many other cultural aspects,” she said. “I also learned a considerable amount of Chinese language and grammar by the end of the two weeks.”

STARTALK is a Chinese language and culture camp that will be held June 13-27 where high school students will stay in the Barrett Honors College for 15 days, getting a taste of college life, immersing themselves in learning the Chinese language and culture, and meeting other Arizona high school students.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for high school students to explore and expand their knowledge in Chinese language and culture through a highly structured theme-based curriculum,” said Madeline K. Spring, STARTALK's co- investigator. 

Arizona high school students entering their sophomore through senior years are eligible to apply. Language proficiency levels for applicants can range from no knowledge of the language to intermediate levels. Students who are selected will get tuition, room and board, and instructional materials covered. The only cost will be a $100 registration fee for students who are accepted.

The deadline for applications is March 31.

ASU was awarded a grant for about $100,000 to run its “Chinese Language Summer Camp: From STARTALK to Flagship.” More than a hundred programs across the country have been awarded STARTALK grants for Chinese, Arabic, Hindi and other languages, according to the STARTALK Web site.  This is the second time ASU has been awarded the grant.

“From a broader perspective, this is to motivate students to learn Chinese,” said Xia Zhang, STARTALK’s co-investigator.

STARTALK will also prepare and identify qualified Chinese learners as potential candidates for the ASU Chinese Language Flagship Partner program. Flagship trains ASU undergraduates to achieve superior-language proficiency while pursuing degrees in their academic major. Students will be able to use their Chinese skills professionally upon graduation.

Garvie, last year’s STARTALK participant, is now taking Chinese 102 at ASU’s main campus along with several other Valley high school students who are taking Chinese through the Collegiate Scholars program at ASU. High school students accepted into the Collegiate Scholars program take college-level courses and in this case, they take Chinese and receive college credit for it. Scholarships are available to eligible students.

For more information, the STARTALK application is available at or contact