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CI Hosts Fifth Annual StarTalk Summer Institute

The Confucius Institute received a federal grant to offer a STARTALK summer institute for Chinese teachers for four consecutive years. The STARTALK Teaching Chinese Culture and Language Authentically (TCCLA) ran from June 17th to 28th and trained 14 teachers from both within and outside Minnesota. In addition to the component of culture as core in second language classrooms, this summer institute put more emphasis on helping the teachers to construct their knowledge learning and to create their own materials to use in class.

The cultural quilt project, a popular activity well received by all of the past STARTALK participants, captured holistically and highlighted teacher participants’ learning experience of the first week. Through continuous reflection and discussion, participants presented their own cultural understanding, woven with key concepts in second language teaching and learning: Understanding by Design (UbD), Content-Based Instruction (CBI), and Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS).

The active engagement of instructors and participants were furthered in the second week, where many opportunities were offered to develop and create authentic materials for classroom use. Participants revisited what has been discussed in the first week and assisted each other to define authenticity, heritage learners and Chinese culture. Discussion was contextualized and targeted their unique audience. Some of the activities included facilitated discussion, role-plays, objective writing centers and carousel discussion. Diverse perspectives were introduced and multiple facets of culture were examined. Additionally, participants scavenged the twin cities to collect authentic materials. At the end of the week, participants compiled a portfolio with authentic materials and shared at the “swap shop” with each other. Last but not least, participant had the chance to pilot one activity in class so as to receive constructive feedback from other colleagues.

This year’s STARTALK successfully accomplished its goal of introducing theoretical concepts to practitioners and providing guidance for them to develop their own meaningful materials. At the end of the program, both instructors and participants expressed their appreciation of the valuable learning opportunities and illuminating discussion in class. The participants were also pleased with the community they have established for future collaboration and support. The continuous offering STARTALK summer institute for Mandarin teachers not only supported Confucius Institute’s mission in promoting Chinese language and culture through teacher development, but also strengthened the relationship between Confucius Institute and its strategic partners both at the University of Minnesota and in the K-12 community. Learn more about this program.

Participants at StarTalk present


Participants at StarTalk


StarTalk at the Confucius Institute
StarTalk participants pose for a photo