2019 Student Program

The Virginia STARTALK Chinese STUDENT Academy (VSCSA) continues to partner with the Virginia STARTALK Chinese TEACHER Academy (VSCTA), a reputed residential teacher training program, to create a national leading model on learning Chinese language and culture online for rising 9-12th graders in the U.S. The program offers a 12-day virtual journey, featuring individualized instruction that brings real-world experiences into online learning. Students will experience productive learning outcomes in a linguistically and culturally enriched online environment and have ample opportunities to frequently interact with excellent teachers, teaching assistants, and peer learners to satisfy their individual needs on a daily basis. The program strives to create a truly interactive, communicative, and innovative classroom through the integration of a wide array of authentic tasks and advanced instructional technology. 


The VSCSA started as a half-day Chinese Language and Culture Immersion Program, part of the VSCTA that has offered a graduate course in teaching Chinese as a foreign language for passionate teachers since 2008. In 2008 and 2009, the teachers in the VSCTA taught in the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Academy (VSCA) at the Governor’s Foreign Language Academy at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. In 2010, VSCTA moved to the University of Virginia (UVa) in Charlottesville to benefit the community surrounding UVa. After eleven years of excellence and success in blended and online learning, the 2019 VSCSA will continue to lead pioneering work to create an online learning model for highly-motivated and self-disciplined rising 9-12th graders. The VSCSA and VSCTA have been made possible by US federal funding for STARTALK to maximize capacities in Chinese language teaching and learning.


Chinese language curricula and instruction vary in different school districts. Generally speaking, rising 9-12th graders who have completed Level II, III, or the equivalent in high schools or other educational settings in Virginia and other states of the US are encouraged to apply. Targeted students should demonstrate ability to use complete simple sentences to exchange ideas on some familiar and predictable topics related to school, family, daily activities, personal preferences, and information about themselves when they submit online application.  


July 5- July 6, 2019: one-hour online orientation in the morning each day (totally 2 days)

July 8- 18, 2019: one-hour online learning in the morning per day except Sunday, July 14 (totally 10 days)

Note: July 13 on Saturday has a regular virtual class.


The program offers two online sessions: 9:30-10:30AM & 11:15AM-12:15PM according to U.S. EASTERN Standard Time. Selected learners will be assigned to one one-hour session that is best suited for the time zone where they are located. Learners will engage in synchronous online learning during the assigned one-hour time slot per day. Additionally, they will use online materials and complete preview and review components at their own pace and participate in asynchronous independent learning and discussions BEFORE AND AFTER the scheduled one-hour online synchronous learning.  An estimated 2-3 hours outside of the virtual class is required on a daily basis.  While a certified teacher will teach the one-hour online class, teachers and teaching assistants will work with individual students to facilitate their online learning during their office hours in the afternoon.


Class size is extremely small and catered to individual needs. Two teachers will work together to teach 2 students in each one-hour synchronous session in the morning. The ratio of teacher to students is 1:1.


Teachers are experienced teachers that have demonstrated excellence in teaching Chinese language and culture in secondary schools in the U.S. They are recruited nationwide to participate in the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy that aims at training teachers to effectively teach Chinese language and cultures online. They will work with leading teachers, technology specialists, and curriculum developers to successfully deliver daily online instruction during the program.     


After participating in two one-hour online orientations on July 5 and 6, you will then embark on an exciting 10-day US-China Virtual Exchange Program and be immersed in authentic Chinese language and cultural products, practices, and perspectives in Beijing, China. The virtual adventure will guide you to engage in authentic experiences in the following five subthemes. 

Subtheme 1:  Arrival at the airport 

Subtheme 2:  Visiting a Chinese host family 

Subtheme 3:  Visiting a high school  

Subtheme 4:  Exploring Beijing 

Subtheme 5:  Farewell to Beijing


The program offers no credits. All classes will be conducted online. The 12-day student program features 2-day online orientation and 10-day immersive experiences. Upon the completion of the program, learners will develop proficiency at the intermediate-low level in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The 12-day academy ensures refreshing and productive experiences in learning Chinese language and culture.  While formal instruction takes place 9:30-10:30AM or 11:15AM-12:15PM, self-paced learning for preview and review is required and crucial before and after class on a daily basis. Learning materials and tasks are thoughtfully created and organized by the dedicated and excellent instructional team. The material is fun, engaging and effective for productive learning. It is required that the selected students be fully committed to meeting programmatic academic requirements throughout the entire program. We cannot stress enough the importance of daily progress that makes possible the achievement of ultimate learning objectives. 


The program will create a unique learning experience for all learners. Authentic language and culture will be well-interconnected and carefully integrated into the curriculum to fully engage learners and ensure frequent interactions between teacher and learners and among learners in the dynamic online community. After the 12-day learning journey, learners will gain confidence in using Mandarin Chinese to communicate with native speakers on familiar topics in daily life. Additionally, learners will develop a better understanding of Chinese cultural norms and become more aware of the differences in cultural values and perspectives that Chinese and American people may have.  Another big advantage is that the unique online learning experience will also help learners to get a head start on transitioning from traditional ways of learning to online learning in Chinese language courses or other subject areas.           


Although the program does not offer credits, students who fully participate in the program, successfully complete curricular requirements, and demonstrate a strong desire to exert your full potential in learning will receive a Certificate of Excellence in Learning after the end of the program. The University of Virginia was founded by the 3rd US President, Thomas Jefferson, and remains a top-ranking public institution in the U.S.  The Academic Village, created by Thomas Jefferson, is fully committed to a combination of academic excellence and quality learning to help broaden your horizon and widen your scope in becoming a more competent global citizen and leader in the 21th century. The certificate granted by the University of Virginia is a strong token of your academic pursuit and will add a big plus for your college application.


Students do not need to pay any program fee. All costs are covered by the program.


Students who fully participate in the program and complete the participation requirements will receive a  gift card at the amount of $25 in honor of the satisfaction of your performance after the end of the program.  


To help you determine if the program is suitable for you, the instructional team has generated the following checklist for you to reflect on your personal learning styles and characteristics.  

  • I am highly-motivated to learn Chinese language and culture.
  • I am self-disciplined and have good learning habits.
  • I am good at time management and always punctual.  
  • I am an independent learner.
  • I enjoy interacting with people in the online community.  
  • I feel comfortable using technology.
  • I can find an appropriate place with a stable Internet access.  

Congratulations! If your answer to each of the above statements is yes, then you are the ideal learner that the program aims to recruit. Please go ahead to prepare your application package and submit as instructed right away.

APPLICATION (Deadline: April 22, 2019)

The completed application package includes the following SIX components. Note that the completion of the Application Form requires prior completion of the rest of the application package (Parts IV, V, and VI), detailed below.

Further questions should be directed to the program administrative assistant via email at (uva.startalk.students@gmail.com). 

PART I: Student personal information (Application Form)

Link to Application Form Here

(You can also access the Application form by copying and pasting the URL in your browser: https://goo.gl/forms/ko5oPfPUWLgvWWz22

PART II: Student commitment form.

PART III: Parent permission form.

PART IV: The most current official transcript via email (Fall 2018)

Please submit your most current transcript (Fall 2018) via Email (uva.startalk.students@gmail.com).

Make sure that you titled your email with the following template:lastname_firstname_18FallT,

AND also use the following template with the file name: lastname_firstname_18FallT.

PART V: Teacher’s recommendation via email

Please ask your most recent Chinese language teacher to write a couple of lines about you as a Chinese language learner and send an email message to (uva.startalk.students@gmail.com) by April 22, 2019.

The email can be written in either Chinese or English or both. It does not require a very formal lengthy letter. An email recommendation would suffice the purpose; neither a hard copy and nor a school letterhead is necessary.

Please ask your Chinese language teacher to use the following format for the email subject. If your teacher has any further questions, please ask him or her to send inquiries to  (uva.startalk.students@gmail.com).

Email subject: 2019 UVa STARTALK Recommendation_student’s English full name

PART VI: Submission of a self-introduction video in BOTH English and Mandarin Chinese (enter URL link to the Application Form)

Watching you from a self-created video is one of the best options for us to get to know you.  Please create a video that lasts 3-4 minutes to introduce yourself in both English and Mandarin Chinese. The video should include two parts of information as follows.

  • Part a: Your introduction in ENGLISH for about 1 minute. In Part I, please describe your motivations for participation in the online program and reasons why you think you are an ideal student candidate that we should recruit.
  • Part b: Your self-introduction in CHINESE for about 2-3 minutes. Please talk about your Chinese name, family, hobbies, school life such as courses and activities, and anything you want us to know more about you. 请介绍你的中国名字、家庭成员和情况、兴趣爱好、学校生活(课程和活动),和其他情况。Creating a video about yourself is not complicated at all. You can use your iphone, ipad, camera, or any tool that you feel most comfortable. There is no need to use any fancy editing skill to create any special effects for the video.  The content matters, but not technology itself. After recording the video, please upload the video to youtube (or other online space), change the YouTube video privacy settings to “unlisted” and provide the link while you are in the process of completing the online application.

The application deadline is APRIL 22, 2019. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the total number of participants is limited. Spots will fill quickly. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible.


Further questions should be directed to the program administrative assistant via email at (uva.startalk.students@gmail.com).