STARTALK, launched in 2006, is a project funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland.


STARTALK’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical need foreign languages. STARTALK offers students (K–16) engaging summer experiences that strive to exemplify best practices in language education.

STARTALK has three main objectives:
  1. To increase the number of students enrolled in the study of critical-need languages
  2. To increase the number of highly effective critical-language teachers in the U.S.
  3. To increase the number of highly effective materials and curricula available to teachers and students of these critical-need languages
Through the accomplishment of these objectives, it is believed that the U.S. will be better equipped not only to improve its international relations, but also to solidify its national security and global economic competitiveness in the years ahead.

During the summer of 2017, STARTALK sponsored 96 student programs across the United States in 11 languages.  The Blue Valley STARTALK CHINESE IMMERSION ACADEMY  is the only funded program in the state of Kansas.


  • This 3-week STARTALK CHINESE IMMERSION ACADEMY will engage 44 rising fifth and sixth graders with the theme "Disappearing Water" offering cognitively challenging science content, functional language and engaging activities as the anchor for language learning with authentic multi-disciplinary connections.
  • During 90 instructional hours, non- heritage learners will progress toward novice-mid proficiency levels in the communication modes of listening and speaking with minimal focus on reading and writing. Heritage speakers will advance toward intermediate-low/mid proficiency level in listening and speaking modes with more emphasis on literacy skills of reading and writing.
  • This Academy serves as an initial step for some, while offering a supportive and ongoing experience for others, creating interest and momentum toward building an established long-sequence pipeline for multiple Chinese academic year programs in Blue Valley Schools.
More details about STARTALK programs can be found at http://startalk.umd.edu

Participants must be rising fifth or sixth grade students. This program is recommended for students who are highly motivated and enthusiastic about learning Mandarin Chinese. The program is available to students who reside in the Blue Valley area.


The academy will be held from June 10-28, 2019 Monday-Friday.

Which students are eligible to attend?
Blue Valley students who are entering 5th or 6th grades in the fall of 2019.

School starts at 8 a.m. and the day ends at 2 p.m for 5th and 6th grade students.

Is attendance during all days required?
You and your child are making a commitment to attend all hours of your assigned session during all 15 days of the Academy.

Can my child participate if we have vacation or other plans during some of the ACADEMY dates?
No. There are a limited number of slots and the grant requires students to attend all hours of the assigned session during all 15 class days of the Academy.

Registration fees, snacks, lunch, activities, and supplies are provided by the STARTALK grant.

What about transportation to the STARTALK CHINESE IMMERSION ACADEMY?
Families must provide for transportation to and from the ACADEMY each day. Drop off will be at 7:50 a.m. and pick up at 2:00 p.m.

How many students may participate?
There will be 3 total classes. One class for heritage learners, one for non-heritage returning students with basic speaking and listening skills, and one for non-heritage learners with no previous speaking and listening skills in Chinese.

How will registration be managed?
Registration will be managed by lottery.

Will my child be tired at the end of the day?
Yes, you can expect that your child will be mentally exhausted at the end of the day’s session. Language learning requires considerable focus and concentration when the brain is trying to make sense of something totally new, such as learning Chinese.

How should my child dress?
Comfortable school clothes are appropriate. Most of the day will be spent inside, but there will be outdoor and exercises activities.

What should my child bring to school?
Students will need to bring his/her own water bottle.

What supplies should my child bring?
All supplies will be provided.

Is lunch provided?
Yes, lunch is provided for students attending the academy all day. Students with special dietary needs may bring their own lunch. Snacks will be provided for half day sessions.

How much Chinese language will be spoken?
Chinese will be the language of instruction during the entire session.

What if my child doesn’t understand?
It is likely that your child will not understand everything at first. As she/he continues to listen and participate, comprehension, as well as some basic language, will emerge.

What will my child be learning?
Basic listening and speaking skills, reading and writing in Chinese. Students will learn vocabulary associated with the science theme, “Disappearing Water” In addition to language, students will participate in Chinese landscape painting and movement or exercises activities.

What expectations does the Academy have of parents and/or families?
Parents should encourage their child to participate enthusiastically in this new learning experience. Parents play a big role in the willingness of their child to accept that he/she will not understand everything and that basic spoken words and phrases may develop slowly. The STARTALK grant requires that students and parents participate in regular surveys. The information gathered from surveys are vital to the development and implementation of quality summer programs funded by STARTALK.

May parents or guests visit classes?
No. There will be a culminating performance day during the final week of the Academy. During this time, parents will be invited to come and observe their child’s demonstration of learning.

How do I contact the Academy or my child during the day?
Please call (913) 239-72​00 to the main building office number. Please refrain from contacting your child and speaking English with him/her during the class sessions.

Will there be an informational meeting prior to registration?
Yes, there is an information session. Those dates will be announced soon.
Blue Valley District Education Center – 15020 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park

Will there be parent and student information sessions prior to the Academy?
Yes, meetings for students who are registered for the Academy and their parents will be held in mid May. This meeting will be highly encouraged as it will provide essential details and information for the upcoming Academy experience.

Whom should I contact if I have more questions about the STARTALK CHINESE IMMERSION ACADEMY?
Please contact Diane Willey at (913) 239-4175.


Enrollment for Summer 2019 is not yet open. For more information, call (913) 239-4175 or email bvstartalk@gmail.com.


5th/6th Grade Heritage Enrollment
5th/6th Grade Non-Heritage Enrollment


This STARTALK Chinese Immersion program is sponsored by Blue Valley Public Schools.

The program will be located at:

Stanley Elementary School
6121 W 158th Street
Overland Park, Kansas 66223