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Howard Community College Announces Year-Round STARTALK Program

Howard Community College now offers its STARTALK Student Engagement Program year round, thanks to funding support provided by a grant from the National Security Agency (NSA). The STARTALK Student Engagement Program is a year-round language program for students in grades 9th through 12th to learn critical-need languages Mandarin-Chinese and Arabic. Students have the opportunity to enroll in STARTALK to earn college credit or to participate without credit. Through the support of the NSA, participants will receive funding for up to eight college credits (four credits per semester) while potentially satisfying one or more high school foreign language requirements.

“STARTALK is a unique opportunity for high school students to learn Chinese or Arabic, now at no cost to them for the first two semesters,” said Dr. Yulan Liu, STARTALK program director and associate professor of Chinese. “It’s really exciting to be able to offer this kind of funded program because it opens up the opportunity to any student who is interested.”

Unlike many traditional language classes, STARTALK incorporates cultural traditions and practices in the classroom, giving students a holistic experience that supports their lessons. STARTALK’s learner-centered curriculum means that students get to design and perform their own skits, choose and engage in cultural activities of their own interests, and articulate and take charge of their own learning. Enrichment activities and events include:

  • Cultural activities
  • Sporting event
  • Field trips
  • Authentic food and cuisine
  • Student panel discussions

“In the past, students spent weeks learning how to perform fan dances and dapke dances which were performed for graduation,” said Liu. “For many students, the task-based performances are their favorite part of the program!”

Students will have the opportunity to receive eight college credits, or four per semester, while simultaneously working to complete high school foreign language requirements. Credit students attend weekly classes and are required to complete all assignments and assessments to receive credit. Students who choose to participate without earning credit have the opportunity to interact with instructors, peers, and course content and are invited but not required to attend the weekly remote class sessions.

STARTALK applications for spring 2022 are now open. The application deadline is December 1, 2021.

Learn more about the STARTALK program and how to apply by visiting

Topics: Announcements
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