Starktalk: Learning Chinese Over the Summer for Free

I’ve used this blog (and will keep using this blog) to discuss NSLI-Y and opportunities for alumni (especially now that I am one). And recently, I have been granted an opportunity to continue my language learning journey; however, this time, it will be with Chinese! Startalk is another one of the projects under the National Security Initiative (Like NSLI-Y which literally stands for National Security Language Initiative for Youth) whose goal is to expand foreign language education for under-taught languages. Programs are set up at colleges all around the United States and are available for students K-16 (depending on the program). Startalk programs also offer a variety of languages: Urdu, Chinese, Arabic, Dari, Korean, Persian, Hindi, Russian, Portuguese, Swahili, and Turkish. The great thing is that Startalk provides programs for every single language that is also a part of NSLI-Y!


I would have loved to have been able to find a Startalk program near me offering Korean but the only available programs for me were for Arabic and Chinese. Still wanting to expand my language knowledge to one other language, I chose to study Chinese!

I will be studying at Lewis University from June 26th to July 21st, so 18 days (No classes on July 3rd & the 4th!) Though the duration of the program is not too long (in comparison to NSLI-Y), classes will be from 9 am to 2:30 pm Mondays through Thursday and 9 am to Noon on Fridays. Therefore, by the end of the program, I will have about 77.5 hours or a little less of Chinese language study under my belt. How exciting!


lewis university 2

Lewis University! It is a bit of a drive for me but worth it! (PC: Lewis University’s website)


lewis university

The Campus (PC: Lewis University’s Website)

We will also be able to participate in extracurricular activities like visiting China Town in Chicago, Tai Chi, cooking, and more. Most programs have two classes, one for beginners and one for intermediate speakers. Therefore, this would not only be a good program for alumni to immerse themselves back into their target language (or pick up another one) but also for NSLI-Y applicants. Doing a Startalk program for the language that one is applying to can showcase a true passion for the language and may make one look more competitive. There have been many cases where people were rejected the first time around, but then they got accepted after doing a Startalk program. Anyway, this program is simply a great way to learn another language over the summer!

All it takes is a quick Google search for Startalk programs in your area and all you can do is hope that the languages you are interested in are available locally. I believe that most programs are pretty competitive and require an application (mine did!), so I wish all applicants the best of luck!~

I can not wait to start learning Chinese this summer!~ If anyone reading this has any tips, suggestions, advice, or resources for me on learning Chinese, I would love to hear them! I have no idea where to start… XD 안녕 친구들! Will this goodbye soon be in Korean and Chinese? 😉

  • Emma (엠마)

2 thoughts on “Starktalk: Learning Chinese Over the Summer for Free

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