Andrew Gallegos, an eighth grade student from Whittier, has been learning Mandarin for two years. He can now speak and understand well and dreams of going to Taiwan to continue learning the language, World Journal (世界日报) reports.
Gallegos is among the more than 1,000 students in Southern California who participate in the STARTALK Good Will Program, a summer Chinese school that is part of a federally funded national initiative to teach critical-need foreign languages. Most of the program's participants are non-Chinese and come from Los Angeles County and the San Gabriel Valley, including San Gabriel, El Monte, Los Angeles, Montebello, and Pasadena.
The STARTALK Chinese courses are offered by a group of Chinese heritage schools and are designed to be comparable to high school Mandarin classes. Students develop language skills and learn about Chinese culture through online courses, digital media, and Chinese cultural acitvities such as diabolo, calligraphy, and crafts.