Holy Cross Receives STARTALK Grant for the Fifth Year in a Row

Holy Cross has been awarded a $90,000 STARTALK grant to convene a 10-day summer residential program on literacy development in Chinese as a foreign language (CFL). This is the fifth year in a row that the College has received STARTALK funding for this program.

STARTALK programs are a component of the National Security Language Initiative, aimed at expanding and improving the teaching and learning of “critical languages,” strategically important world languages that are not widely taught in the United States. The program will run July 22–July 31.

Called “Read-On: Teaching Reading Literacy in Chinese,” the 10-day STARTALK residential workshop tackles the issue of character and text literacy development among learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL).

During the 10-day residency at the College of the Holy Cross, participants will work with top researchers on literacy and second language acquisition to identify best practices in teaching Chinese characters and approaches to Chinese literacy. Participants will work in grade-level teams to develop teaching models that incorporate character and text literacy instruction and practice. The final products will consist of thematic teaching units differentiated by grade level (K–5, 6–8, 9–12, and 13–16), which will follow the National Standards in Foreign Language teaching.

The proposal was authored by Claudia Ross, professor of Chinese in the department of modern languages and literatures, who will also serve as the program director. The leadership team also includes Baozhang He, associate professor of Chinese in the department of modern languages and literatures, who will serve as the program coordinator, and Meng Yeh, associate director of the Center for the Study of Languages at Rice University, who will serve as the instructional lead.

The program will also feature instruction and leadership from Ke Peng, assistant professor of Chinese at Western Kentucky University; Sara Chao, teacher at New Trier High School in Illinois, Brook Cheng, teacher at Barrington Middle School in Illinois; and Ya-Ching Hsu Kelkis, teacher at Chinese American International School of California.

The goals of the Holy Cross STARTALK literacy program include collaborating across grade-levels to develop best practices in character and text literacy for CFL learners, develop standards-based, students-centered thematic units that incorporate character and text literacy instruction at each grade level, and disseminate these units through websites hosted by professional organizations and educational institutions.