STARTALK Student Program

high res startalk logo

STARTALK is a language education program at the University of Maryland, created under the National Security Language Initiative, a federal program which seeks to expand the teaching of strategically important languages in the United States. Languages taught under the STARTALK program include Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu. STARTALK is a project of the National Foreign Language Center of the University of Maryland.

The Houston STARTALK Student Program provides a FREE four week summer course and 90 hours of instruction for elementary students. The Program aims to raise the awareness of and stimulate students’ interest in learning Chinese language and culture.

The Program collaborates with Neff Elementary School in Houston Independent School District* to recruit 1st – 5th grade students. Collaboration with Houston school districts has been a successful and effective model for STARTALK student programs since 2008.

American Bodhi Center will continue to utilize the strong and extensive connections with school districts and the community in Houston to promote the STARTALK student program. Houston STARTALK Student Program has developed thematic-based curriculum for elementary, middle and high school students. “My Space Your Space” is the program theme. The students are guided to explore the characteristics of their own space, as well as compare their spaces with those of Chinese students in the sphere of personal preferences, school life, daily routines, and family structure.

All of the students will also have hands-on cultural experience, learning lion dance, making art crafts, practicing martial arts, and writing calligraphy with skillful teachers from the local community.

We recruit experienced and K12 certified teachers in Houston and provide four full-day intensive teacher training before the student program starts. The funding is budgeted for learning materials, teacher and staff payment, classroom and technology supplies, as well as intensive teacher training. The school districts will provide free facilities, administrative support and help recruit students.

2017 Program Information will be available soon.

For additional information, please contact the STARTALK Program Director, Ms. Rebecca Sharp Sanchez, at


*Please note that this program is open only to students at Neff Elementary School in Houston, Texas.