Startalk: Chinese Class Reunion Celebrating Chinese New Year (Feb 17th, 2018)

February 17th, 2018

你好!My Startalk Chinese class came back together today in order to celebrate Chinese New Year~ I carpooled with my friend Becca, and we were both super excited to see our classmates again. The director of the Startalk program planned this reunion at a Chinese Restaurant about 30 minutes from where I live. And, wow, it was so crowded. There were so many families and couples there. The line was out the door! I guess this place is a crowd favorite for ringing in the New Year!~

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10/10 I would definitely recommend!

Becca and I were the first people to arrive so we met 胡老師 and her husband at the front of the restaurant until they could clear a table for us.

We started off the afternoon with a little test. Our director gave us four slips of paper and we were told to write down four characters to then be placed in a box. The director would pull random slips out throughout the lunch, and the winners would receive small prizes: candies and pastries. Then, before we started eating, 胡老師 taught us how to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese.

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Becca, Citlali, Adrienne, and I

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Citlali, Adrienne, Elaina, Bruce, and Magalie

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We also learned a lot about Chinese New Year. This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 16th which officially begins the year of the dog! (My zodiac sign is a rabbit~) Many people ring in the new year by cleaning their entire house and by decorating it with lanterns, calligraphy, and posters with poetic verses. Homes are filled with a lot of red! And on New Year’s Eve, families have reunion dinners– kind of like the one we were all having together!

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Such delicious food!!!

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For dessert, we had these pastries with filling that was made partially from egg yolks

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After eating, we played a couple of more games to try to earn points for prizes. We were taught the characters for Happy New Year and then we were given them, shuffled, and had to put the characters in order the fastest. We also played this game that involved our director holding up a piece of paper with a number (in Chinese characters of course) and then we had to quickly write a sentence in Chinese with the same number of characters. It was intense!

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Prizes for winning the games!

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Our director gave us training chopsticks shaped like ninjas. XD She told us that her 20 year old son can’t even use chopsticks! Fortunately, I do not need them, but they are adorable!

Lastly, 胡老師 talked to us about red envelopes during Chinese New Year. They are red packets filled with money given to kids, family members, friends, and coworkers to wish them a good new year and lots of luck. It is custom that once you get married, you should start giving out red envelopes. Our director all gave us “symbolic” red envelopes each holding one dollar. She explained to us that the tradition started off with small amounts of money but now, the custom has become more costly for the givers. (Especially when it comes to family members having to give money to the children in the family.)

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1. Accept the envelope with both hands 2. Give a greeting and express thanks 3. DON’T open the envelope in front of the giver!

At the end of the reunion, we took some group photos together and the individuals with the most points were able to choose a prize. There were so many prizes: Chinese coin purses, t-shirts, Chinese candy, chopstick sets, etc. I picked out this gorgeous set with 4 chopsticks and 4 chopstick rests~


The Startalk Director (and my Chinese professor) with Becca and me~ ❤

And that was all for our reunion! It was a lot of fun being able to see all my classmates again (and eat some really delicious foods). Today has really motivated me to get back into my Chinese studies! It was nice being able to use it with everybody. Currently, I’m hoping to be a student helper alongside my director during this summer’s Startalk program! (Because I am too old to actually partake in it once again) I also found out that Lewis University’s Startalk is adding Russian this summer! How cool is that?!?! We will see how my summer plans work out 😉 Thank you for reading! 謝謝!再見!

  • Emma (敏娜)

Startalk: Chinese Class Reunion for the Mid-Autumn Festival

你好!This post is a little late… about four months after the Mid-Autumn Festival to be exact. But, I am finally getting around to making this post after collecting all my photos as well as researching more about this Chinese holiday.


So this past summer (2017) I participated in a Startalk program to learn Traditional Chinese. I spent about 5 hours every weekday at a local university learning how to speak, read, and write Chinese for 4 weeks. Startalk’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens speaking critical languages, and it is funded by the National Security Agency (NSA). This summer was a blast, and I made a lot of really good friends from different high schools all around me. In order to keep us engaged with Chinese and to allow our classes to “stay” together, the director of my local Chinese Startalk program planned a reunion for the students. We would be celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival– eating delicious food, learning about the holiday, refreshing our Chinese skills, and just hanging out with friends we haven’t seen in awhile.

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PC: Examine China

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival that gets its name from (you guessed it!) the fact that it is usually in the middle of autumn. (The festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese calendar.) The Chinese celebrate this festival by having dinner with family, playing with lanterns, flying lanterns, worshiping the moon, and more. And of course, food is plentiful!

We celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival and had our reunion on October 7th, 2017 (Saturday). This date, inconveniently, was the same day I took my SAT Subject tests. Therefore, I was a little late to the festivities because I had to deal with SAT Spanish and SAT Literature and when I did get to Lewis University, my classmates were playing games to refresh our memories on Chinese and practice new words and phrases.

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So happy to see everyone again!!! ❤

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Before I arrived, my classmates had eaten these flaky, sweet pastries. I later learned that these pastries were Taiwanese Sun Cakes, and they were very delicious!~

To practice out Chinese, we played this game that was very similar to Charades. We were given slips of paper (2 or 3 each) which had vocabulary words written on them. We had to get up in front of everyone and act out the word without any sounds. If someone guessed it, then both the guesser and the actor would get a point. (Points were important because there were “prizes” to be given out!) It was a lot of fun and Bruce acting out “Mother” will always be my favorite thing! XD

After games, we had our Mid-Autumn Festival feast! (Which was what everyone was looking forward to~)

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They got SOOO much food catered! It was crazy to see so much food for not that many Chinese students. (Lucky for the director, high school students know how to eat XD)

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Not every student was able to make it :/ However it was still very nice to catch up with everyone (and talk to those who I did not have a chance to during the summer).

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Reunion photo with Class 2’s teacher (My class’s teacher was busy :/) and the director of the program (and my professor for my online Chinese course at Lewis).

After dinner we learned about (and obviously ate) Mooncakes which are traditional Chinese pastries eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mooncakes are usually circular or square in shape with a pastry exterior and a sweet filling. There are many things that are used in the filling for the Mooncakes: Lotus seed paste, fruits, red bean, nuts, dates, etc. Mooncakes are very popular and are often offered as gifts to family, coworkers, and friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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The Mooncakes were purchased in gift boxes because of how often they are given as gifts.

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Mooncakes often have really intricate details on the outside!

Our director purchased two types of Mooncakes: The first having pineapple filling and the second having a filling made out of dates. Mooncakes can be considered an acquired taste. Some of my classmates were not fond of the taste or texture or both. However, I found them really tasty! (Even though I had never even eaten dates before this day!)

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Becca trying to be funny! XD  我爱她 ❤ ❤

After we stuffed ourselves with all the Chinese food we could get our hands on, it was time to start wrapping up the reunion. Throughout the day we were accumulating points if we had won any of the games in order to pick prizes at the end. (Those with the most points got to pick first and then so on down the line.) Unfortunately, because I was the last student to show up (As if the SAT Subject Tests were not bad enough! haha jk…), I had the lowest amount of points which meant I was to pick last. I received an American candy bar XD It was still greatly appreciated, however. (Though I definitely had enough to eat already!) But there were some really great prizes: Chinese textbooks, Chinese books, Chinese music CD’s, Taiwanese scarfs, and notebooks.

The biggest prize of all (at least for me) was the fact that the director of Startalk needed to get rid of all the leftover food so we were allowed to take home as much as we liked. So, of course, I made myself a nice plate for dinner.

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Sam getting his Ziploc bag for leftovers ready!

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Bruce bringing home a whole box of leftovers! #goals

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My dinner for the night XD 谢谢老师!~ ❤

And that was my Startalk’s class reunion for the Mid-Autumn Festival! It was a lot of fun to come back together since we had not seen each other for almost an entire 3 months. Additionally, I was talking to my Chinese professor a couple weeks ago, and she is trying to have another reunion in February for Chinese New Year!~ I am excited to see what she plans for that! (This reunion happened today: February 17th) I will write a blog about that soon!~ 谢谢!再见~

  • Emma 敏娜

Startalk: Last Week of Chinese Classes & Graduation {July 17th – 21st, 2017}

你好!~ It is time to talk about the last week of Startalk :,( I had been putting this blog post off for quite awhile because looking through these pictures, especially the graduation pictures, makes me feel very nostalgic! I want to go back! I need to get back on the Chinese grind!

Monday (July 17th, 2017)

This week we continued learning vocabulary words about the weather and we expanded on that theme by learning how to describe the temperature/highs and lows. We also learned more hobbies and how to describe peoples’ physical appearances.

We also had our last calligraphy class which was low key a blessing because I was really bad at calligraphy and I would get so stressed when our director would call a minute left and I still had to complete the assignment given. This class was really fun; however, because we also got to make our own bookmarks. Our director was trying to give us ideas on what to paint and she suggested writing “I love Alfred.” She was kidding… but everyone took that and ran with it XD Basically everyone used one of their bookmarks to write “I love Alfred.” (AN: Alfred is the name of our TA)

At the end of the calligraphy session, our director picked the three best pieces to win a calligraphy brush and to my surprise, I was chosen as the third winner! (Honestly, I do not think I deserved it whatsoever… but I kept asking her for help throughout the session and so it might have been a pity prize XD ) I will probably not continue practicing calligraphy on my own time but the next time I go to China Town, I will definitely buy a bottle of ink or an ink stick so I can paint when I am in the mood.


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I got Alfred to write my Chinese name (吳敏娜) in calligraphy. He did so much better than I could ever have done! 😛


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Tuesday-Thursday (July 18th-20th, 2017)

The rest of the week, minus Friday, was spent learning the last few things on the curriculum and working on our Final project, extra credit assignments, and other assignments that were due before the final on Thursday. Our final project was to pick a Taiwanese celebrity and introduce them with a video. I did mine on Aaron Yan or 炎亞綸. (I chose him because not only did I really enjoy his acting and singing in “Fall in Love with Me,” but also because Sydney and I did a project on him last week as one of our tasks. Take a look:

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Nothing too fancy… and I am currently cringing at my handwriting!!!

For extra credit, we had to watch a video on the Chinese language and radicals/characters and answer some questions. This week we also got to watch the entirety of a Taiwanese movie. It was called “Eat Drink Man Woman” or “飲食男女.” We got plenty of time to work on all these assignments during class as tasks stopped this week; however, I mostly used this time to goof off with all my classmates because we did not have that much time left together!


  • We had to rap a song about weather. We discovered that Ricky has a hidden talent in rapping. Someone sign him please !!! XD
  • Conversations about memes with Jada, Bruce, and Cetlali
  • Alfred roasting us as per usual
  • Teaching our 老師 what “twinning” means
  • Singing Kpop in the car with Becca
  • Embarrassing Jada with our singing skills when singing her Happy Birthday in the cafeteria- in front of everyone
  • The cafeteria CHURROS
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#bestlunchever #很好吃

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Photoshopped Kameron into our last lunch photo. Can you tell? XD

Friday (July 21st, 2017) – Startalk Graduation Ceremony

Oh, this day was filled with the feels! It was a really nice day though~

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Becca and I waiting to go inside. (We did not want to be too early…)

We started off the day viewing final projects. It was pretty awkward and embarrassing because I hate how my voice sounds over recordings and I was nervous that others would judge my pronunciation. Everyone felt the same as me, however, so it was not too bad. After our projects, we played a few rounds of this new vocab game (it has something to do with the wind… I wish I remembered its Chinese name!) and just talk with each other until it was time to take a class photo and make our way to the room where our graduation would be held.


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Last selfie in our Chinese class!!~

The graduation ceremony was in the same room we had orientation in which was an interesting feeling because our time in Startalk felt like it went full-circle. The ceremony started with the director talking about the program and what exactly it entailed (for all parents in attendance). We also had a few messages from our teachers. Next, they did something unexpected… they started playing my final project video! I almost fell out of my chair! I was surprised and my face immediately became red. Our director said that she wanted the parents to hear more of what the students had learned and so she had the teacher of each class pick the best final project. My 老師 picked mine! I was honestly very proud of myself, but I still could not help cringe at my voice XD We then got to watch a compilation of photos from throughout the program with some upbeat background music – it was really cute and I literally teared up.

Then, it was time to get our certificates. We started with my class and we all lined up like practiced (one of the things we did this week in preparation for graduation). We went down the line translating the Chinese sentence said before us and then saying a sentence in Chinese of our own choice. Afterward, the teachers called each student, one by one, to shake hands and accept their certificate of completion. The other class went after.

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My Class ❤

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Congratulations to me!~

And as I predicted, after the Director called everyone out to the hallway for photos and light refreshments, I started literally crying. My friends were gathering around me trying to comfort me and so I quickly stopped. I never thought that I would be getting so emotional. The program was less than 4 weeks but I still had a blast learning Chinese and I bonded a lot with my class mates. I could not imagine starting my senior year of high school and not going to Chinese class. Everything just blew up in my face at that point. However, I quickly got over it and a smile returned to my face~ Which was good because there were so many pictures afterward!! Prepare for a spam…

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Sabrina, me, Jada, Daina, and Adrienne with our Certificates of Completion


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The “Yeah Boi” Squad!!


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Becca did not get the “wear a yellow dress” memo

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The best people you will ever meet

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Me with my 小老師

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Had to snap a picture with my teacher and director~

After the ceremony, I had planned a lunch outing with anyone from my class that could attend at a Chinese restaurant in Bolingbrook called “Gong Ho.” Not everyone could make it… but a good amount did! I am so glad that we got to celebrate altogether outside of school~ We plan to hang out and eat food at least once a month or once every two months~ I really want us all to keep in touch even if we do not see each other a lot.

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Reflection: Startalk was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did it allow me to stay productive through the summer, it gave me a kick start on learning Chinese which I might not have gotten from anything else. I made a lot of really great friends and I am now inspired to not only gain fluency in the Korean language but also the Chinese language. Lewis University was very kind; they gave us Startalk students the opportunity to continue our Chinese learning journey with a second semester online Chinese course. If we got an A in the summer course, we would be allowed to enroll in the online Chinese class for free! (Which was super nice because it would have been so expensive if I had to pay for it!)

  • I found out my grade from the class a couple weeks after the graduation ceremony- while I was in NY visiting family. I got an A and I am happy to say that I will be continuing Chinese with Lewis University this fall! Classes start on August 28th. I will have 3 assignments per week up until December. I will be meeting, through video call, with my professor (otherwise known as my director from Startalk) once every two weeks. We will also be doing handwritten assignments and we will also be taking tests. I can not wait to improve so much during this semester!! (Hopefully, I can handle it with my 5 AP classes… wish me luck! haha)

If you ever get the chance to participate in a Startalk program, please do! You will have a lot of fun and learn so much! If only I could apply next year, I would do it in a heartbeat~ Thanks for reading and do not forget to subscribe to my blog! More posts to come on traveling, NSLI-Y stuff, and learning Korean and Chinese. 謝謝! 再見!~

- Emma 吳敏娜


StarTalk: Third Week of Chinese Classes {July 10th – July 14th, 2017}

你好!The third week of StarTalk Chinese classes was super fun but also super stressful. This was because we had our field trip to China Town and our Chinese midterms all during one week!

We still learned a lot of Chinese this week. Our teacher did not let us slack off just because we had a field trip and that we needed to study for our midterm. This week, we focused on family vocabulary, common Taiwanese foods, and adjectives to describe places.

We also got to practice more calligraphy. Calligraphy and I truly have a love-hate relationship. I am not good at it, but I really want to be. It is honestly a struggle.

China Town (7/12/17)

  • In the morning, both Chinese classes met up at the library in order to wait for the bus that would take us to Chicago. We did not start the day off with really good luck because our bus was 45 minutes late and it started seriously storming while we made our way to China Town.

We were supposed to do a scavenger hunt as soon as we got to China Town but because it was raining and we had lost a lot of time due to our ride being late, our teachers and the director allowed us to just walk around for a little bit before it was time to eat. The scavenger hunt then became extra credit, and because mt group was very extra (haha word play) we completed the task! (We just had to take photos of storefronts on our list and take photos of signs where we could recognize some characters.)

Then, it was finally time to eat! (Honestly, the part of the trip we were most looking forward to!) We ate orange chicken, duck, white & fried rice, dumplings, steamed buns, eggplant, fried noodles, tofu, etc.

After lunch, we were all treated to drinks from JoyYee. I had milk tea with tapioca pearls and I was in love! Bubble tea (or Boba tea) is my favorite thing to drink. I had not had it since Korea and boy… did I miss it!

After lunch & drinks, we were given an hour to just walk around China Town and do whatever we wanted until the bus arrived to take us back to Lewis. This part of the trip did not treat my wallet very well XD

Midterms (7/13/17)

  • One of the scariest words in the English vocabulary: Midterms. Our midterms were split into two parts; we had to take a reading test and a speaking interview. The reading test was composed of one side being sentences in Pinyin that we had to translate to English while the other side had sentences in Chinese characters. The speaking interview was with the director in which she would be asking us lots of questions and then, at the end, we would have to ask her questions like we were getting to know a host sibling. With my amazing luck (note the sarcasm), I had to do the interview first. Fortunately, my midterms went great! Aced both of them!~

And that was my third week of Chinese classes at Lewis! It has been very fun and I have gotten even closer with all of my classmates. Honestly, it is going to be very hard for me to have to say goodbye to everyone! Good thing we all do not live too far from each other! Thanks for reading~ Don’t forget to subscribe!~ ^^ 再見!

  • Emma 엠마 敏娜

Startalk: Second Week of Chinese Classes { July 5th – July 7th, 2017}

你好!~ So this week of Startalk was shorter than normal because we had July 3rd and July 4th off. I really enjoyed the break and did something fun every single day to really make the most of the time I had without classes and homework.

We reviewed everything we had learned the past week on Wednesday and Thursday in order to make sure that we did not forget anything over the break and that we truly had these things in our long term memory. We also got our first taste of characters. We learned the characters for several popular Taiwanese foods and practiced writing them with the correct stroke order. I tried very hard but my copies of the examples were not good looking at all XD On Friday, we learned the characters and pinyin for family vocab. We spent time studying the stroke order for each and every character. We played some competitive games with all the groups to see who could write the characters the fastest with the correct stroke order by working as a team (it also had to be legible XD)

This week we were also introduced to task activities. On certain days we would be moved to a separate room filled with several different tasks all surrounding different aspects of learning Chinese. There was a task that involved writing characters, creating a Chinese menu, listening to Chinese music, creating a poster for a Taiwanese celebrity, calligraphy, creating a picture book with common radicals, a conversation station, and researching locations of interest in Taiwan. We have to do one every day and if we can get more done, we get extra credit!

Overall, this week has been my favorite because of the fact that all my classmates are becoming more comfortable with speaking Chinese and putting themselves out there (this is something that I already had the opportunity to do through NSLI-Y), and that my classmates and I are also getting more comfortable with my teacher and TA. Also, I have been wanting to learn characters since the beginning so I could not be more excited when we began to use them in class. Since the first week, I had been memorizing and learning the characters of our vocab words (which was optional) as well as the pinyin that we studied in class ~ I can not wait to learn more characters next week!!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions, please comment below~ Do not forget to subscribe. 謝謝!再見!~

- Emma 敏娜 엠마

Startalk: First Week Learning Chinese {June 26th – June 30th, 2017}

你好!我的中文名字是吳敏娜。我的英文名字是Emma。我喜歡學中文和韓文。我喜歡看電影和自拍。我住在伊利諾州。伊利諾州很漂亮。 我是美國人。我會說英文和西班牙文。我會說一點點韓文和中文。我十七歲。再見!~

The sentences above are my attempt at an introduction in Chinese/me trying to use the Chinese I learned in class. We have not really learned Chinese characters in class yet, but I have been learning the characters for our vocab words on my own, so that is why I was able to type up this short introduction. (Are their mistakes? Please comment what I can do to fix/improve my Chinese! 謝謝~)Actually, I officially used the Chinese keyboard on my laptop for the first time for this blog post. (It took me a good five minutes to remember how to add a keyboard to my laptop.)

First Day {June 26th, 2017}

  • As nerdy as it sounds, I could not sleep the night before the first day of Startalk classes. I was so excited to learn Chinese! I woke up and hour earlier than I was supposed to because the stupid birds outside my window woke me up, and I was too excited knowing what was to come that day. Therefore, I could not fall back asleep. My friend from my high school, Becca, drove us to Lewis University and we ended up being early by an entire 30 minutes. When we got to the correct parking lot, we met up with one of the college students who showed us the way to our Chinese classes. Becca and I were in different classes, so we dispersed once we got into the building. (I was in Section 1 and she was in Section 2.) I walked into the class and my teacher and TA immediately exclaimed: “你好!” It hit me at that moment that I was going to be in this classroom for the next four weeks learning Chinese.
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Driving to Chinese Class!~

We spent the beginning of the day at an orientation learning all about the program, its expectations, and how the grading/college credit will work. We also were taught basic classroom directions and gestures to go along with them (these gestures would be associated with these phrases to help us learn them) such as “please raise your hand” and “repeat after me.” We watched some introductory videos of our Chinese teachers and Teacher Assistants. My teacher and TA seemed really nice. My teacher is American, but he has lived in China for long periods of time, so his Chinese is definitely close to if not fluent. My TA was a student at Lewis University (not anymore because he was transferring), and he was born in Hong Kong. I hope to learn a lot from the both of them!

After orientation, we began learning Chinese! We learned greetings and basic classroom expressions (only pinyin though) in order to not be completely clueless during our class. My teacher did not speak English the entire day until the very end. Whenever we did not understand, we would look at our TA and he would translate the teachers Chinese to English. I think that was the right way to start the class. In Korea, English was rarely ever used and that honestly does help with language immersion.

We had lunch at the university, and then afterward, we were given a tour of the campus by one of the students helping out the Foreign language department. (It was not too in depth which was quite alright because Becca and I are going to arrive early every single day to just walk around before class starts.)

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Lunch at the Cafeteria

And that was my first day at Startalk Chinese Classes! It was a lot of fun and I am hyped for the rest of the program. I know learning Chinese will be difficult but I will put in lots of hard work in order to make the best of this program!~

Second & Third Day (6/27 – 6/28/17)

  • We listened to a lecture from the director on the four different types of tones in Chinese and learned how to ask and give names, polite expressions, numbers, phone numbers, and more greetings and class commands.

Fourth & Fifth Day (6/29 – 6/30/17)

  • Becca and I were in such a good mood these days, therefore we were having a lot of fun walking around campus, taking photos, and practicing our Chinese together before the class started.
  • We picked up speed with Chinese learning these couple of days because we would be having a long four-day break over the fourth of July weekend. We learned about hobbies, age, how to answer the question “Where do you live?”, descriptive words for places, nationalities, and languages. We did a lot of group activities that involved getting up and talking with everyone in order to practice everything we were taught. We also played lots of group games and individual games (my competitive self definitely enjoyed these games for sure) and we were given Chinese snacks if we won!

    One of the best things we have done during this program was Calligraphy on Thursday! Now, I have realized that I will NEVER be a calligraphy master XD but nonetheless, calligraphy was really fun as I had never done it before! We learned how to hold the pen and one of the most common strokes. I tried my best!

    And that was my first-week taking Chinese classes with Startalk!~ I am excited about the four-day break because I have done so much homework this past week. But… I honestly can not wait to get back and learn more Chinese. I hope we start learning characters next week ( though I kinda already started on that XD ) Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. Do not forget to subscribe to my blog. 謝謝!~

P.S In case, anyone is wondering. The name of my program is “A trip to Taipei” therefore we are learning a lot about Taiwan through documentaries and we even practice culturally appropriate classroom rules such as how we start and end our classes (with a classroom monitor, bowing, etc) We are learning Traditional Chinese. This Chinese is used in countries like Taiwan and Singapore while Simplified is used in mainland China. That is all for this Authors note~ 再見!!

- Emma 엠마 敏娜 (Now I have three names… haha)

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!


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


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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)