Ball State University
2000 W. University Ave
Muncie, IN 47306

Ball State University, in collaboration with STARTALK, will offer a tuition-free residential summer program for rising Grades 9-14 students. Housing and food will also be provided free of charge.

To learn Mandarin and experience Chinese culture, students will be immersed in a culturally rich and academically intensive environment. The theme of our program is “Chinese Pop Culture”. The program is organized around STARTALK’s principles for effective teaching and learning with an emphasis on implementing a standards-based curriculum and conducting a performance-based assessment. By the end of the program, students are expected to reach Novice-high to Intermediate-high level on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

For more information, download our flyer (PDF)

About the Program

Rising 9th -14th students in the summer of 2024 (students who will be college freshmen or sophomores or in Grades 9-12 in fall 2024) who have taken Chinese for at least 2 semesters or the equivalent, or who have taken part in a STARTALK program at least once.) are eligible for participation in the program.

Preference will be given to applicants who show a commitment to the full length of the program.

Rising high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for dual credits.

Only 30 students will be enrolled due to limited space capacity. Spots will fill quickly so we recommend that you submit your application as early as possible. Admission is based on the dates when we receive the completed applications. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please note that the program is intensive. Therefore, it cannot be combined with other time-consuming commitments (e.g., full-time job, athletic activities, etc.) because they may interfere with your participation in the program and consequently affect your learning. Significant financial resources are invested in each participant. We expect each participant can attend and benefit from the entire experience.

The benefits of the STARTALK program at Ball State University are:

  • College students will have the rare opportunity to improve their Chinese proficiency without paying any tuition.
  • High school students can experience college study early helping to apply for college and later adapt to college life. They can study Chinese, a critical-need language in the USA, in the engaging culture-rich summer course, and the chance to continue in our regular Chinese courses if you attend Ball State.
  • Rising high school juniors and seniors can receive 3 credits for both high school and college graduation if they take this summer course as a dual-credit course. 

Time: July 12-26, 2024 (Fifteen consecutive instructional days, with no weekends off.)

Pre-academy and post-academy online learning will be provided in spring and fall 2024.

Pre-camp and post-camp online learning: 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays between January 9 and March 12 for pre-camp learning, and August 14 and October 15 for post-camp learning. There are also some individual online-tutoring hours in March, April, May and June for students to sign up later.

Online learning can provide some flexibility in terms of scheduling conflicts. If you can study the recorded online classes that you miss due to scheduling conflicts, and finish all the assignments on time, you can still apply.

Students need to prepare an electronic device to access online classes. The BSU STARTALK program will NOT provide any electronic device for online learning.


  • 7am-7:30: wake up and getting ready
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast & morning exercises
  • 9am-12pm: Classes
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch
  • 1pm-3pm: Language and cultural activities
  • 3pm-4pm: Arts and crafts
  • 4:30pm-6pm: Group work and team projects
  • 6pm-7pm: Dinner
  • 7pm-8pm: Homework time
  • 8pm-9pm: Entertainment time
  • 9pm-10:30pm: Free time
  • 10:30: Lights off

Our STARTALK program is sponsored by the National Security Agency under the U.S. Department of Defense. Therefore, the tuition is free. In addition, housing and food is provided to all the participants free of charge during the summer academy.

Once the application period closes, we will make our decisions and notify you by December 1, 2023. Students on the waitlist will also be notified; several of the students from this list are typically accepted into the program at a later date.

STARTALK is a federal grant program funded by the National Security Agency. STARTALK grants fund several types of innovative programs that create strong language learning outcomes for K-16 students, provide in-depth, quality teacher development, and develop support materials and resources for educators in order to meet the goals for critical need languages in the United States.

STARTALK’s overall mission is to increase the number of young Americans learning and speaking critical need foreign languages by offering creative and engaging learning experiences for K-16 students.

For more information about STARTALK, please visit their website.

Ready to Apply?

To apply, you'll need to complete the application form, including a statement of interest (100-200 words) explaining why you would like to participate in the program, a letter of recommendation from a teacher who has taught you, and your most recent report card. Contact Liu Li for more information.