STARTALK’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical need foreign languages. STARTALK offers students (K–16) and teachers of these languages creative and engaging summer experiences that strive to exemplify best practices in language education and in language teacher development. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) launched STARTALK in 2006 and delegated executive oversight of the program to the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA in turn awarded a contract to the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland (UMD) to act as its subject matter expert in the implementation and administration of the program.
STARTALK is guided by six Principles for Effective Teaching & Learning and has three main objectives:
- To increase the number of students enrolled in the study of critical-need languages
- To increase the number of highly effective critical-language teachers in the U.S.
- To increase the number of highly effective materials and curricula available to teachers and students of these critical-need languages
Through the accomplishment of these objectives, it is believed that the U.S. will be better equipped not only to improve its international relations, but also to solidify its national security and global economic competitiveness in the years ahead.