STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency that promotes the teaching and learning of critical need languages in the United States.

STARTALK’s goals include

  1. increasing the number of students enrolled in critical language studies
  2. increasing the number of highly effective critical language teachers in the U.S.
  3. increasing the availability of quality teaching and learning materials.

More information on STARTALK, critical languages, and STARTALK teaching principles, can be found at


Program Overview

The APPSTATE-STARTALK Student program includes 60-hour pre-camp and 30-hour post-camp virtual activities and a three-week, residential, immersive program from July 11 to July 29, 2022. We plan to enroll 30 rising 11th-14th students (rising high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores) with previous education in Chinese and/or at Novice-Mid/High level from the universities and colleges in the High Country, where Appalachian State University is located, and its surrounding Southern Appalachian region, especially Western North Carolina and East Tennessee.

Our program is designed to be equivalent to three semesters of high school/college foreign language classes (180 instructional hours and 180 co-curricular in-language cultural activity hours). Its goals are to assist our students to reach the proficiency level of Intermediate Mid/High. The immersive program will use a standards-based, student-centered, backward-designed and technology-integrated curriculum.

The highly structured theme- and task-based program will focus on the theme “The High Country Meets the Middle Kingdom” and aim to give students an authentic insight into modern day China by embarking on a virtual journey to Beijing. Students will explore many aspects of the Chinese culture by imaginarily arriving at the Beijing Airport, visiting a local Beijing family, making friends at a Beijing high school, dinning at a Peking Duck restaurant, shopping at the Silk Market, and visiting local sites of historic and cultural significance, such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Furthermore, students will learn to inform, explain, persuade, describe, and narrate on a variety of topics on their travel and cultural experiences in Beijing.

Students will also participate in a series of cultural workshops, such as guest lectures on aspects of Chinese culture and hands-on activities, including Chinese martials arts (Tai Chi), calligraphy, painting, paper cutting/crafts, singing, dancing, film viewing, etc.

The APPSTATE-STARTALK Student program is a year-round community-building initiative designed to improve students’ knowledge of Chinese language and culture. More importantly, the program will support students in future learning and career goals by equipping them with the language skills and experience to use in the professional world.


Program Location

Online & Appalachian State University, North Carolina

Application Dates

  • The application is open now and will stay open until all spaces are filled.
  • Admission is on a rolling basis. Space is limited to 30 students, who will be divided into three classes based on students’ proficiency and grade levels.

Eligible Participants

This program is intended for those who have attained at least Novice-mid level proficiency in Mandarin Chinese; students who have reached higher proficiency are also welcome to apply. Rising 11th -14th students in the summer of 2022 (rising high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores) are eligible for participation in the program. Preferences will be given to students from the Southern Appalachian region, especially Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. Preference will also be given to applicants who show a commitment to the full length of the program.

Program Cost

With the general support of the funds from the National Security Agency, the program will cover all associated costs for accepted students, including (1) tuition and learning materials, (2) meals and lodging and field trips during the residential program from July 11 to July 29, 2022. 

Program Credit

Students who successfully complete the program can earn 6 credit hours for Chinese 1040 and Chinese 1050 at Appalachian State University. But your school might decide whether you get credit or placement based upon its own criteria. The program can provide unofficial documentation, upon request, of successful completion of the program.

How to Apply

Contact Us

For further information please contact Dr. Xiaofei Tu at