Grant helps spread language and culture in Alabama

Participants in 2016 STARTALK workshops were joined for a photo by Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University.

Participants in 2016 STARTALK workshops were joined for a photo by Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University.

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

The workshops, which will take place June 18-July 2 on the Troy Campus, are designed for high school students and Chinese language teachers – or those who aspire to teach the language and culture.

A 15-day residential program to train 12 teachers and 24 high school students from Alabama and the region is being supported by approximately $112,000 in federal funds for the TROY-STARTALK Program in Chinese. The grant was secured by Dr. Rui Feng of Modern Languages and Classics, in cooperation with Dr. Iris Hong Xu, distinguished professor of Chinese culture and language at the Center for International Cultures and Languages (CILC), and her team.

“This grant is a significant achievement, and it provides a basis for Troy University in helping 9th-12th grade programs build a greater capacity for learning and 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.

Students who complete the program have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs in China through the Center for International Languages and Cultures (CILC) at Troy University. In addition to the language studies, students will be exposed to Chinese culture through learning Chinese Kung Fu and Dragon and Lion dance, Fan and Umbrella dance, making Chinese-related arts and crafts, playing traditional games, cooking and writing calligraphy.

Aside from working with the students one-on-two to assist their learning of the Chinese language and culture, teacher participants also participate in academic courses on second language acquisition theories, classroom management, curriculum development, planning teaching, textbook selection and evaluation, testing and assessment and Chinese cultural traditions. Teachers will undergo academic training and cultural immersion opportunities similar to the student workshop so that they will have a broader understanding of Chinese culture and thoughts when they return to their own classrooms.

The program, now in its seventh year at TROY, initially began for Mandarin Chinese teachers and was expanded to include students in grades 9-12 in 2012. STARTALK was launched nationally in 2006 with the goal to advance the nation’s capacity in critical languages.