The 2021 Virginia STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy (VSCTA) strives for excellence in creating an innovative training model to best prepare Chinese language teachers to teach online. The program offers graduate course credits to enhance and advance participants’ teaching credentials toward the pursuit or renewal of the certificate in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. With proven excellence and teacher participants’ testimonials since 2008, the VSCTA program at the University of Virginia (UVA) has established an excellent reputation in academic rigor and quality training and will continue to inspire Chinese language educators to develop strong global leadership for online teaching in Mandarin Chinese.
Over eight years (2008–2015), UVA STARTALK has successfully implemented in-person teacher training and practicum. With proven excellence and efficacy in running the UVA STARTALK combination program in 2016–2019, this program has reached its maturity and has demonstrated its ability to prepare teachers effectively to teach online. In response to high demand for online teaching with the outbreak of COVID-19, the UVA STARTALK team mobilized quickly to launch free training sessions to contribute to the wider Chinese language teaching community in 2020. Many UVA STARTALK Teaching Fellows acted as regional leaders and played impactful roles in offering free online sharing sessions in different regions of the nation during the pandemic. We feel enormously grateful for the continual federal funding in the past twelve years, and for the opportunity to help our community face the challenges of such a critical and challenging time. Altogether, over two thousand secondary and post-secondary Chinese language educators participated in the online training and benefitted from our expertise and services.
The 2021 VSCTA program aims to recruit 12 passionate teachers nationwide. The recruited teachers will actively engage in synchronous and asynchronous interactive platforms created for 1-week online asynchronous training and 2-week synchronous online training. The 3-week online teacher program begins with 1-week online asynchronous training (June 21-26), followed by 2-week online synchronous training (June 28-July 9) in summer and strengthened by post-program coaching activities in fall 2021.
This year the online teacher training program offers graduate level course for 2-5 credits in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Teacher participants should demonstrate competence in teaching Chinese language and culture in secondary and post-secondary educational settings, have prior knowledge and skills in implementing online technology tools in teaching, and show willingness to collaborate with teaching fellows to explore the online teaching model in the UVA STARTALK online community. The capstone in the development of trainees’ competence will be the completion of an E-portfolio that documents trainees’ extensive learning experiences in launching or advancing their careers in teaching online Mandarin Chinese courses.
The integration of both theory and practice will be delivered through a completely online instructional model before, during, and after the program. Peer teaching during summer and teaching in a real classroom in fall are crucial for developing competence and confidence in online teaching. Teacher participants will closely work with the technology team and mentors to complete teaching requirements in a multi-faceted reflective cycle. During the peer-teaching phase, teachers will have ample opportunities to apply effective pedagogy and principles and receive systematic coaching for lesson planning and online teaching in best preparation for fall teaching in a real classroom. With the versatility of advanced technologies and innovative pedagogy, teacher participants will fully engage in active learning through powerful and user-friendly online platforms, frequently interact with instructors, assistants, and peers, and receive strong rapport within the online learning community.