With the Mandarin Chinese language topping charts as one of the most commonly used languages in the world, the demand for American students’ literacy of Chinese is ever-increasing. Here in the Valley, almonds and other agricultural rank among the top exports to China from California while a wide range of Chinese product continues to be imported into the U.S.
As Chinese-American relations continue to expand, the necessity for Chinese literacy is at an all-time high. In preparation for students’ future success, the 2019 STARTALK Chinese immersion summer camp introduces young students to the language across the Central Valley.
The Fresno State Linguistics department will be hosting STARTALK, for 5th to 8th-grade students from June 24th to July 13th at Fresno State. The grant-funded program plans to enroll 40 students in the program. This year’s theme is “Going Places.” Registration is $30.
The program aims to introduce young students to Chinese language and culture where they will get to experience three destinations in China, all from right here in the Central Valley. The students will be immersed in the culture’s food, family life, and art while eating at Chinese restaurants, visiting Chinese families, learning kung fu and Chinese songs and dance. On the last day of the three-week program, students will take a field trip to San Francisco to visit the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and Chinatown.
“Our students will have the opportunity to be exposed to Chinese culture and language in this program. The experience allows them to interact with instructors from another culture, hear a different language and learn Chinese performing arts, et cetera,” said Li Mann, M.A., Chinese Instructor, Department of Linguistics.
By the end of the program, students will be able to greet someone in Mandarin Chinese, introduce themselves and their family, describe likes and dislikes, name some food items, and name leisure activities in the target language.
“It is very beneficial for students at a young age to be exposed to other people, and cultures for it prepares them well to live in a multicultural and multilingual society like ours,” said Mann.
STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. STARTALK grants fund summer world language learning programs as well as professional development programs for world language teachers.
“We hope this program will get our learners and parents interested in learning these critical languages and eventually the local school districts will offer these language options to our students and families,” said Mann. “As more students become interested in learning these critical languages, we hope we will have more students in our future classrooms at Fresno State as well.”