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Gonzaga’s Popular Startalk Chinese Language Summer Program Open to Students Grades 2-12

startalk graphic

SPOKANE, Wash. – Up to 60 Spokane-area students in grades 2-12 will have opportunities to study Chinese this summer at Gonzaga University, thanks to an $89,822 grant from Startalk, a federally sponsored program designed to foster interest in less commonly taught languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.

Professor Ben Semple

Professor Ben Semple

Gonzaga is accepting applications for the three sessions (elementary school, middle school, and high school). The elementary school session runs for three weeks, from June 20-July 8; the middle school and high school sessions run for four weeks, from June 20-July 14. For application procedures or to download application materials, visit the program website.

For the eighth 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 area schools. Startalk funding allows Gonzaga to offer the program free of cost (a small fee applies for students who take the course for credit). All books and instructional materials 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, professor of modern languages, and Yvonne Quigley, adjunct instructor of modern languages, submitted the grant proposal. The team implementing the project includes Semple (program director), Quigley (lead instructor), and Cory Kittrell (program assistant).

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 considered vital to ensure U.S. security, maintain economic competitiveness, and foster intercultural understanding.

For more information, visit the program website or contact Semple at (509) 313-6721 or via e-mail at

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