A group of Maryland high school students is spending the summer learning to speak Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi as part of a national effort to help more Americans speak critically needed languages.The program is free and is being held at Howard Community College. It's backed by the National Foreign Language Center and gives students hands-on world knowledge.
For six weeks, more than 70 high school students will put aside their own language to learn a new one as part of a government program called Startalk.
"This is the first time for most of them. They have never had any experience, but they just love it. They are participating in all of the activities," said Chinese instructor Yulan Liu.The summer learning program is intense and goes beyond just what is in the books. Students also get to experience other cultures and customs.One student said her biggest struggle has been pronunciation."That's totally different from what I have been learning in French and Spanish, so it's challenging," said Sophie Lange."It's critical for them because they are connected in so many different ways -- in the business world and in the security world -- just knowing people and how people think and how people's perspectives of the world are so different," said HCC World Languages Director Cheryl Berman."People have told me about the benefits of being fluent and just being able to communicate with other cultures," said student Isaiah Dupree.By the end of the summer, students get to walk away with up to four credits from HCC that can then be transferred to a school of their choice.HCC is the only community college in the nation that received a Startalk grant for students.