Pre-Service Teachers Celebrate Multilingualism During Chinese and Spanish Summer Programs

Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) Chinese and Spanish pre-service teachers had the opportunity to provide a two-week Chinese language and culture camp for K-5 campers and a one-week Spanish language and culture program for high-school students in Highland Park, NJ.

"Multilingual Highland Park" was this summer's theme, and the young campers, while learning Chinese, were exposed to the rich linguistically and culturally diverse community in Highland Park. Campers kept a tally of the number of languages spoken in their camp groups (14 different languages for one group alone), and they listened to stories in Chinese about multilingual children.
At the camp's closing celebration, campers engaged in many activities, including calligraphy, printmaking, Chinese checkers, Zumba and more. In addition to acquiring some basic Chinese, the program goal was to encourage maintaining, developing, and celebrating multilingualism. One young camper said, "My aunt said that Chinese is the number one language to be learned. I'm fascinated by it. It's cool!"
The year 2015 marks the eighth summer that GSE has received a STARTALK grant for the preparation of Chinese language teachers. These funds, totaling more than $1.3 million, have provided a forum for novice Chinese language teachers to learn from expert teachers and put theory into action in a summer camp environment. This year’s program had a focus of leadership development for the teachers.
"The STARTALK program is really an intensive and comprehensive way to learn good Chinese instruction," notes Hanying Yang, GSE Ed.M. Language Education ‘15 graduate and two-time STARTALK participant. "I learned from everyone in the program and I was encouraged to practice and present my ideas."
The GSE also offered a practicum experience for pre-service Spanish language teachers. These participants, including one visiting student intern from the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, offered a one-week intensive Spanish language program to high school students in which they created a short video documenting the global community in Highland Park. The video will be shared with a partner high school in Mérida, Yucatán.
If you are interested in more information about the GSE’s Language Education programs, STARTALK programs, or participating in the 2016 summer programs, please contact Kathleen Dempsey at