P.O. BOX 2120



February 29, 2008



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



2008 Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy (VSCA)


The Virginia Department of Education is pleased to announce the addition of a pilot Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy (VSCA) to the existing residential foreign language academy program for summer 2008. The primary purpose of the VSCA will be to offer Virginia high school students an opportunity to begin the study of Chinese (Mandarin), which is not widely taught in the Commonwealth. The academy will accept mostly beginners as well as some students with prior Chinese language experience.


STARTALK is one of several language programs under the umbrella of President Bush's National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) of January 2006, which seeks to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important languages that are not widely taught. Information about the national STARTALK program is at


The 2008 Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy will be modeled after the highly successful partial-immersion Virginia Governor's Japanese and Russian Academies, and will operate concurrently with the 2008 Virginia Governor's Foreign Language Academies: A Global Village (GFLA), sharing campus facilities and participating in several Global Village activities. The three-week residential program is for current tenth- and eleventh-grade foreign language students in the Commonwealth of Virginia and will be housed on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond from June 22, 2008, through July 13, 2008.


The University of Virginia has received a sister grant to conduct a summer institute for Chinese teachers, accepting both current and pre-service teachers of Chinese (Mandarin). These teacher-trainees will assist in teaching the VSCA students during morning classes and will receive intensive training in Chinese-language pedagogy during the afternoons. The 12 to 15 participants will reside on the VCU campus and will also interact with students during meals and evening activities, providing a language-rich environment with a high student-teacher ratio of nearly two to one.


During this pilot year, student participants will be chosen from among the current nominees to the Governor's Foreign Language Academies. These students have been notified of this new opportunity to give them a chance to be considered for the VSCA as a first or second choice. Interested current nominees must notify the Department of Education by March 7, 2008, but do not need to submit a new application. The VSCA will also accept a limited number of students who have studied Chinese. Schools with interested Chinese language students should nominate one student and submit an application packet postmarked by March 7, 2008. Applications and information about the VSCA are available on the Department of Education's Web page at


The Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy is dependent upon annual grant funding and may or may not be available in future years. This federal funding will cover all program costs, with no contribution necessary from school divisions, private schools, or state funds. The VSCA will be funded through the STARTALK grant program administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland.


Please contact Ms. Helen Small, specialist for foreign languages, Office of Middle and High School Instruction, at, or (804) 225-3666 for information about the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy, the UVA Chinese teacher-trainee program, or the Governor's Foreign Language Academies.