STARTALK Teaching for Proficiency and Career Readiness is a year-long NSA-sponsored free to participants training program. 30 secondary and post-secondary teachers of critical languages (Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Russian) are invited to participate.

The primary outcome is that participants demonstrate knowledge and skills appropriate to create meaningful learning experiences, so their students increase their proficiency and can use their target language in the real world.

Participants will create instructional units that incorporate the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, the six STARTALK Principles, and integrate career preparedness elements to increase their students' employability and to motivate them to pursue language-related careers.

Participants will learn the fundamentals of employing backward-design principles aligning learning outcomes, performance assessments, and learning experiences.

At the end of the program’s summer component, participants will have access to many instructional materials and resources for implementation in the next academic year, during which the post-summer module will be offered for peer feedback and support.


  • Applicants must be secondary (preferably high school) or post-secondary teachers of Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Russian teaching in a U.S. institution.

  • First-time applicants with no prior STARTALK experience who are scheduled to teach or develop critical language curriculum in the upcoming academic year will be given preference.
  • Applicants must commit to participation in the entire program.


STARTALK Teaching for Proficiency and Career Readiness is a year-round program (May 2024-May 2025) comprised of an online spring module, an intensive 9-day in-person summer module, and an online post-summer module for a total of 120 continuing professional education (CPE) hours.

Participant orientation session

4/25 6PM to 8PM

Spring Module, online (30 hours): May 1, 2024 – May 30, 2024

Virtual sessions: Thursdays, 6 to 8 pm; Saturdays 9 am to 12 pm

Thur.: 5/2, 5/9, 5/16, 5/23

Sat.: 5/4, 5/11, 5/18, 5/25

Summer Module, in-person (60 hours): June 11 – June 17, 2024

In person sessions on the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) campus

June 10, 2024: Arrival at UTA campus no earlier than 3 PM (for non-local participants)

June 18, 2024: Departure from DFW no later than 9 AM  (for non-local participants)

Summer Module Daily Schedule (Monday – Sunday, no days off)

8-9 AM Breakfast //9AM-12 PM Workshop sessions with short breaks //12-1 PM Lunch meeting (making connections, discussing teaching successes and challenges, etc.) //1-5 PM Processing and application activities: Group discussions, hands-on activities, time for material design and on-the spot peer/ facilitator feedback//5-6 PM Dinner

Post-summer Module, online (30 hours): September 30, 2024 – May 15, 2025

Virtual sessions: Saturdays 9 am to 12 pm

Sat.: 10/5, 11/2, 12/7, 1/11, 2/1, 3/1, 4/5, 5/3



  • Application deadline: February 15, 2024.

  • Participant acceptance notification: by March 1, 2024.

  • Participant attendance confirmation: by March 15, 2024, or as requested.


1. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be able to

  • describe the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, in particular, Communication;
  • define proficiency and describe proficiency levels in the three modes of communication; 
  • explain the six STARTALK Principles and use them as an organizational framework for planning, teaching, and reflection/evaluation;
  • use/(re-)develop a standards-based and thematically organized curriculum;
  • describe the backward design process for language learning and employ it;
  • integrate (work) culture, career-relevant content, and language in their materials;
  • describe professionalism and workplace skills, explain how skill elements of professionalism can be fostered in a language classroom, and choose age-appropriate authentic materials that fit communicative contexts centered on language careers and professional workplace skills;
  • create real-world learning experiences, so learners can use the target language outside class;
  • utilize their students’ interests and needs to plan and execute learner-centered experiences;  
  • make input comprehensible and use the target language at a maximum;
  • employ gradual release of responsibility (GRR) principles to provide scaffolding that leads to independent language use;  
  • reflect on their learning and collaborate with peers for continued improvement of student experiences and professional growth. 

2. This program will provide 120 CPE hours through three mandatory and interconnected parts.

3. Participants may be eligible to receive a $1000 stipend upon successful completion of all three parts of the program to compensate for their time and/or travel expenses.

4. Participants will be provided with the opportunity to become part of a local/regional Teacher Learning Community beyond the program’s end.


The entire program is sponsored by the NSA STARTALK grant, so it is free for participants. This includes meals for all participants and lodging for non-local participants during the summer component. Travel expenses will not be covered.

Participants will also receive instructional resources at no charge to them.


The program’s facilitators are experienced in applying STARTALK and ACTFL proficiency-oriented teaching principles to curriculum design. They possess expertise in adapting career readiness initiatives for language learning contexts and in facilitating activities for adult learners.

Dr. Iya Price, Program Director  

Dr. Barbara Berthold, Lead Instructor

Guest Facilitators:

Paul Sandrock

Paul Sandrock profile

Current position: ACTFL Senior Advisor for Language Learning Initiatives

Qualifications: While at ACTFL, Paul Sandrock has facilitated the revision of the national World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages and the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, and before that was a member of the original Integrated Performance Assessment development team. Sandrock led three STARTALK program development projects (2015, 2016, 2017) and co-directed two STARTALK Teacher Programs (2019-2020 and 2021-22). Before serving ten years as ACTFL Director of Education, Sandrock was Assistant Director of Content and Learning at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), coordinating English language arts, mathematics, international education, and world languages. He earlier served as the Wisconsin DPI statewide consultant for world languages. Sandrock taught Spanish for 16 years in middle and high school and authored The Keys to Assessing Language Performance as well as Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages. Sandrock previously served ACTFL as a board member and president and received ACTFL’s Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education, K-12.

Dr. Donna Clementi

Donna Clementi Profile Pic

Current position: World Languages Methods Instructor, Lawrence University (WI)

Qualifications: In addition to her main position, Donna Clementi, leads a yearly Arabic Teacher Workshop Series sponsored by the Qatar Foundation International at Concordia Language Villages. She is the PD for the 2023 STARTALK Teachers of CLs Program at Concordia Language Villages. She also teaches a summer institute on assessment at the Center for Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota. She is co-author of Keys to Planning for Learning: Effective Curriculum, Unit, and Lesson Design Second Edition (ACTFL 2017). She taught French and was the World Languages Program Leader in the Appleton Area School District (WI) for 33 years. Donna was president of the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers (WAFLT), chair of the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and served as an ACTFL board member. She received ACTFL's Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education, K-12.

Language-specific focus group facilitators:

Ms. Reem Shishakly (Arabic group)

Dr. Szu-Yen Neal Liang (Chinese group)

Dr. Sok Ju Kim (Korean group)

Dr. Ehsan Shafiee Zargar (Persian group)

The Russian group will be facilitated by Dr. Iya Price (the Program Director).



Attend one of the information webinars:

October 27th, 2023 3-4 PM (Central Time) Link to join: Information Webinar October 27th Teams Meeting

December 1st, 2023, 3-4 PM (Central Time) Link to join: Information Webinar December 1st Teams Meeting 


It is the policy of The University of Texas at Arlington to provide an educational and working environment that provides equal opportunity to all members of the University community. In accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits unlawful discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, and/or veteran status. The University also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, and gender expression. See full policy here: 08D89616FAD6C6A425EEC76FFA2FBFD8

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