About STARTALK

STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. STARTALK grants fund summer world language learning programs as well as professional development programs for world language teachers. STARTALK grants support programs for students and teachers of eleven critical need languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Dari
  • Hindi
  • Korean
  • Persian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

Through these programs, the STARTALK program seeks to achieve three goals:

  1. Increase the number of students enrolled in the study of critical languages
  2. Increase the number of highly effective critical-language teachers in the U.S.
  3. Increase the number of highly effective materials and curricula available to teachers and students of critical-need languages

What types of programs are supported by STARTALK?

STARTALK grants support three types of programs:

Student Program

Engaging summer language learning experiences for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade as well as undergraduate students.

Student programs take place in communities all over the United States during the summer months and are free or very low cost for participants. Programs provide the opportunity to learn a new language that may not be offered in area schools and build cultural awareness in an immersive environment.

All student programs are guided by the Principles for Effective Teaching and Learning and support the goals of the World Readiness Standards for Language Learning.

Teacher Program

Intensive teacher development experiences for teachers of one or more of the STARTALK languages.

Teacher programs are organized by a variety of educational organizations all over the United States during the summer months and are free or very low cost for participants. Many programs offer continuing education or graduate credits for practicing teachers or provide pathways to certification for those seeking to become a language teacher.

All teacher programs are guided by the Principles for Effective Teaching and Learning and Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning framework.

Combination Program Programs providing both student language learning and teacher development experiences together.

Combination programs create a comprehensive experience for teachers that involves pedagogical training and opportunities for classroom observations and practicum experiences, while offering low student to teacher ratios to support learning.

Find a STARTALK Program in your state

Who can receive STARTALK grant funding?

Many types of organizations are eligible to apply for STARTALK funding, including universities, school districts, libraries, non-profit organizations, community schools, and more.

STARTALK has an annual grant cycle. All institutions desiring grant funding, including current grant recipients, must apply for a grant each year. Applicants complete and submit their proposals for STARTALK funding online using the STARTALK proposal system SOPHIE. Proposals are accepted beginning in September each year. Proposals are reviewed by external experts in October and November. All applicants are notified whether they will or will not receive an award in January, and awards are issued in March and April.

Learn more about the STARTALK grant process