SPOKANE, Wash. – Twenty Spokane-area high school students will receive the rare opportunity to study Chinese this summer at Gonzaga University, thanks to a $68,478 grant from Startalk, a federally sponsored program designed to foster interest in less commonly taught languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.
For the second consecutive year, Gonzaga’s department of modern languages secured the grant, allowing the local high school students to receive beginning Chinese language instruction because it is not offered in Spokane public schools. Startalk funding allows Gonzaga to offer the program at a total cost to the student of only $205, which covers books, lab fees, lunches and tuition for the five-week program. The class runs from June 28 to July 30, and meets Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday from10 a.m. to noon.
Gonzaga faculty Bin Cheng, Chinese instructor, and Ben Semple, associate professor of French, wrote the grant proposal in November and received confirmation of the award earlier this month. Cheng will be the coordinator and lead instructor for the program; Semple will be the program director.
Startalk is a component program of the National Strategic Language Initiative (NSLI). The U.S. secretaries of state, education, and defense, and the director of National Intelligence are collaborating in this effort designed “to dramatically increase the number of Americans learning critical-need languages.” Instruction in critical need languages is vital to ensure U.S. security interests, maintain economic competitiveness, and foster intercultural understanding.