University of Vermont

Asian Studies Outreach Program

New England Students gather at UVM to Learn Chinese

Federal grant awarded to CESS provides students the opportunity to learn a foreign language

StarTalk Vermont students and teachers at the 2013 summer residential program

On the first afternoon of a weeklong program at the University of Vermont, eighteen New England students suddenly found themselves in a world that only spoke Chinese. During the opening ceremonies for the StarTalk Vermont Chinese language program, the students listened attentively as the fifteen Chinese language instructors that had gathered from across the United States gave short introductions. Nervous expressions crossed the students’ faces, as they searched for some glimmer of familiarity in the words being spoken. 


While the students looked nervous, the leadership staff at the back of the classroom looked confident. In its second year of operation the staff of StarTalk Vermont, under the curriculum leadership of Dr. Wei-Ling Wu, knew that one week was just enough time to get high school students not only interested in learning the Chinese language, but confident in their ability to learn the Chinese language.


“By the end of the week, students will be able to give the same basic introductions,” explained Dr.Wu. A veteran teacher reknowned nationally for her teaching ability, Dr. Wu had developed a curriculum schedule that would allow the students multiple opportunities during the week to listen, speak and practice the Chinese language at a comfortable pace.


While the student program aimed at generating student interest in learning the Chinese language, there is a simultaneous teacher program running which aimed at upgrading teachers' knowledge and skill for teaching the Chinese language. Now a StarTalk Vermont staff member in 2013, Nan Hyde recollects how her 2012 StarTalk Vermont experience made her more confident in her teaching of the Chinese language.


“During the 2012 teacher program, which was very intense for teachers, I felt motivated to meet the high teaching standards Dr. Wu expected from us. The following year I saw how my teaching skills had improved, and how my students benefited from my professional development.”


The program, sponsored by the College of Education and Social Services, will return in the summer of 2014, with applications for both the students and teacher program being accepted starting May 2014. For more information, visit

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