USU Extension Receives Grant for Language Learning Initiatives

By Shelby Ruud | June 23, 2023


Starlink Grant

Utah State University Extension recently received a grant to fund a two-week Mandarin Chinese language and cultural summer camp for Utah students. 

The USU Extension Language Learning Program received the STARTALK grant from the National Security Agency. This competitive federal grant program is designed to fund innovative language learning initiatives for K-16 students.

The USU program, led by Simon Wang, program director, and Peiru Chen, program coordinator, secured $372,000 in grant funding for language and cultural immersion activities.

“The STARTALK grant is a testament to the diligence and dedication of our team,” said Chen. “This program offers Utah students an incredible opportunity to enrich their understanding of other cultures and languages, especially Mandarin Chinese. It empowers them with valuable skills to benefit them throughout their lives.”

The funding will be used for “Unlock Mandarin: A STARTALK Summer Program,” an ambitious two-week residential camp complemented by online pre-camp and post-camp instruction. The camp aims to immerse students in real-life Mandarin Chinese language and culture through authentic multimedia and technology.  

The camp is the first of its kind in Utah public universities and is free of charge for Utah students. It will be held in June 2024.

“This grant signifies a turning point for Utah’s K-16 students,” said Wang. “Our program offers a learner-centered environment for students to immerse themselves in foreign languages and cultures, especially Mandarin Chinese. The funding will enable us to promote greater access to language learning in the state.” 

For further information about the program, visit or contact Chen at