US Projects

CHS/McDaniel Summer STARTALK Institute on Integrating Cultures and Communities in Arabic and Chinese Language Programs

CHS Project
CHS is involved in many projects. Photo by CHS.


STARTALK is part of a federal initiative to build the nation’s capacity in critical-need languages. CHS partnered with McDaniel College to establish and implement a STARTALK summer institute. The institute offered Arabic and Chinese language instructors opportunities to improve their K–12 teaching skills during a 4-week, 90-hour program. The curriculum encompassed the National Standards for Foreign Language Education (communication, culture, connections, comparisons and communities) and was linked to Maryland’s teacher certification process.

Key Activities

  • Developed and conducted lead instructional staff orientation,
  • Developed online platforms and virtual learning environments,
  • Developed evaluation and assessment instruments,
  • Facilitated participants’ opportunities to attend Common Ground on the Hill classes,
  • Supported participants in preparing and delivering Common Ground on the Hill classes,
  • Evaluated program outcomes,
  • Maintained program website, and
  • Assisted prospective teachers in navigating the state certification process.


  • In 2009, 31 participants enrolled; 28 completed the course, including 20 who received continuing education unit (CEU) credit and 8 who received graduate credit.
  • In 2010, 28 enrolled; 26 completed the course, 21 received CEU credit, and 5 received graduate credit.
  • In 2011, 28 enrolled, 23 completed the course, 17 received CEU credit, and 6 received graduate credit.
  • In 2012, 27 enrolled; all completed it, 22 received CEU credit, and 5 received graduate credit.
Quotations from a program participant, instructor, and staff member:

Yi-Chen Chiang, Teacher Trainee:

By participating in the program, I had the chance to learn from experienced language experts, to follow the new teaching theory and strategies, and to reflect on my own teaching. . . . Through hands-on projects, [other trainees and I] shared our knowledge to help each other become better teachers.

Nancy Jean Smith, Lead Teacher:

Our most powerful teaching comes from a space of believing that the learner has something to offer in the learning process. STARTALK participants [are] highly motivated and eager to learn. . . . [They] inspire me.

I believe in STARTALK goals. I believe in the way our program is conceptualized and I think our collective efforts have really helped participants reframe how they want to work in the world of languages.

Ruby Costea, Project Director:

I consider our program successful when noticing the difference in demeanor and teaching skills of participants from when they arrive to when they reluctantly leave at the end of the program (or come back the next year); when I receive emails from participants that tell me they applied to teaching jobs and got them based on their experience; when our participants tell me how they use what our instructors taught them in their language classes; when I hear participants make comments like, “This program changed my world.”

Foreign Language School Principal (edited for brevity):

My teachers came back more confident and assured. They excitedly shared what they had learned with the other teachers at the school. It was clear that their classes had made a marked difference and appeared more fun, as well! It seemed as if they grew professionally overnight. I will definitely be sending more of my teachers to your training next year.”

Quick Facts

Geographic Focus
Westminster, MD

US National Security Agency through the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, College Park