Chinese faculty members Claudia Ross, left, and Baozhang He at Qingcheng Shan, a sacred Taoist mountain in China. Image by Paula Cunanan
For the second year in a row, Holy Cross has been awarded a $100,000 STARTALK grant to operate a Chinese teacher development program. Created by the National Security Language Initiative, STARTALK aims to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages that are not widely taught in the United States.
From July 12 to July 22, the College will host 20 master teachers of Chinese — ranging from elementary school teachers through college professors — for an intensive workshop. The various instructors will develop a set of best practices when teaching students to read extended Chinese texts.
Called “Read On: Training Modules for Literacy in Chinese II,” workshop participants will generate a range of instructional approaches and sample classroom material appropriate for learners of all ages. The workshop will also include lectures delivered by prominent researchers in the field of Chinese literacy.
Last year, the focus of the program was character literacy (research-supported approaches to the teaching and learning of Chinese characters). This year the focus of the program is text literacy (research-supported approaches for teaching students how to read extended texts in Chinese).
Enhancing literacy among Chinese students is important, says Claudia Ross, professor of Chinese and coordinator of the Chinese program at Holy Cross.
“Learners and teachers alike find reading to be the most frustrating part of studying Chinese, and frustration with the reading process is the main reason why students drop out of Chinese classes or choose not to continue their study,” she says.
Along with Ross, Baozhang He, associate professor of Chinese at Holy Cross, helped to procure the STARTALK grant, and will serve as program coordinator at the conference.
“The grant gives me the opportunity to work with some of the best teachers from the prospective of the learner, and I am excited to be involved in a project that has the promise of real breakthroughs in Chinese language learning,” says Ross.
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