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Second Annual STARTALK Program to Teach Chinese to Elementary Students

July 18, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The two-week summer camp STARTALK Program ends Friday with a closing ceremony to honor the graduation of about 80 Monongalia County elementary students who have been learning Chinese.

The West Virginia Department of Education has partnered with Monongalia County Schools to offer the STARTALK Program held at Cheat Lake Elementary School in Morgantown. Students must be entering grades 1-5 in the fall to participate.

The second annual STARTALK Program aims to teach Chinese language and culture to elementary students through interactive videos paired with authentic, hands-on cultural experiences.

This year’s program theme, “A Green Earth + A Healthy Me = Harmony,” also stresses the importance of being a healthy and responsible global citizen.

 “In order for our students to be successful in a globally competitive society upon graduation they must learn a second language and they must begin this journey earlier,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “The STARTALK Program does a great job of coinciding with the mission of the West Virginia Department of Education’s ‘Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.’ initiative to prepare all of our students to be college and career ready upon graduation.”

The STARTALK curriculum consists of samples from the much larger Language Leaper Program. The Language Leaper Program includes both Chinese and Japanese language units for kindergarten and first grade. Both onsite and media teachers are used.

Language Leaper was piloted this past year in seven schools across Cabell, Ohio, Monongalia, and Putnam counties and will expand this upcoming school year to include additional regional schools. 

“I have enjoyed watching the students interact positively with the Chinese language. It is very rewarding to see students actively engaged in language learning,” said Debbie Nicholson, coordinator for the Office of World Languages.  “I hope the STARTALK Program will be just one step in beginning the lifelong process of learning a second language for these students.”

The inaugural year for the STARTALK Program hosted about 50 students from Monongalia County elementary schools at North Middle School in Morgantown.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average. 

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