The Monday kickoff luncheon for the STARTALK Texas Teacher program at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center may have a Tex-Mex menu: carne asada, grilled chicken, flour tortillas and green salsa, but the program consists of teaching Chinese as a second language.
The 20 enrolled Chinese-language teachers (chosen from 50 applicants, all with bachelors degrees) intend to become capable instructors ready to be certified for teaching Chinese in Texas.
It’s no secret that students who want to learn a language in Texas (that isn’t English or Spanish) are out of luck unless their parents can afford private school. According to the CIA World Factbook, only 2.7% of the US speaks a language from east Asia, and Chinese Americans naturally make up a vast portion of these speakers. That’s borderline unacceptable.
The STARTALK Texas Teacher program intends to fix that. The graduate course (CHNS 6371 on Peoplesoft) focuses on development, implementation and evaluation of instructors’ abilities to teach Chinese to their students.
According to the information on the $100,000 grant UH received for the program, the teachers in the course receive a scholarship that covers tuition & fees, instructional materials and part of the housing cost (for non-commuters) if they complete the program. Teachers who develop a quality project after the program and can share it with the public also get awarded $400.
The demands are high. The course began Tuesday and ends July 20, for a total of 70 hours. Since there are no live pupils for the teachers to practice on during the course, the instructors will participate in follow-up sessions on October 13 and November 3 for evaluation.
There are sure to be a few skeptics that fear this is a conspiracy, that China intends to take over the US as a communist superpower via language, but hopefully no one will take these thoughts seriously.
These are only dedicated Texas teachers learning how to instruct students even more effectively, and The Daily Cougar could not be more pleased with that.