SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane-area K-12 students will receive the rare opportunity to study Chinese this summer at Gonzaga University, thanks to a $93,000 grant from Startalk, a federally sponsored program designed to foster interest in less commonly taught languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.
Applications are now being accepted for both the kindergarten through sixth grade and grades 7-12 sessions. The K-6 session runs for two weeks, from June 25-July 6; the 7-12 grade session runs for four weeks, from July 2-26. For application procedures or to download application materials, visit the program website.
For the fourth consecutive year, Gonzaga’s modern languages department secured the grant that will allow students to receive beginning Chinese language instruction since it is generally not offered in Spokane Public Schools. Startalk funding allows Gonzaga to offer the program free of cost for the K-6 session, and for only $220 for the 7-12 session. All books, instructional materials, and lunches are covered by the grant.
In addition to language instruction, the program also includes Chinese cultural activities, such as Tai Chi, calligraphy, dance, and watercolor painting. Ben Semple, associate professor of modern languages, and Bin Cheng, director of Chinese, wrote the grant proposal in November. Cheng will coordinate the program and serve as lead instructor; Semple directs the program; Mary Jeannot, associate professor of English as a Second Language, will serve as program consultant and teacher-trainer; and Lisa Meyer, senior faculty assistant in modern languages, provides administrative support.
Startalk is a component program of the National Strategic Language Initiative. The U.S. departments of State, Education, and Defense, and the director of National Intelligence are collaborating in this effort to dramatically increase the number of Americans learning “critical-need languages.” Instruction in such languages is vital to ensure U.S. security, maintain economic competitiveness, and foster intercultural understanding.