Language Pledge

Common Questions About the Pledge

The Language Pledge® is the key to true language immersion and tremendous language gains.

What is the Language Pledge®?

All Academy students agree to abide by the Language Pledge®, a commitment to speak, listen, read and write the language of study as the only means of communication. It is the foundation of our intensive immersion program and originated with the Middlebury Language Schools.

What does the Language Pledge® say?

“In signing this Language Pledge® I will do my utmost to follow the letter and spirit of the Pledge as defined by the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA). I understand … that [language] is the means of communication for me during all four weeks of the MMLA session, except for the few times specified by the Program Director as non-immersion moments. I will respect … the Language Pledge® taken by other students in my Academy and I will not speak a language other than [language] in their presence. I will respect … the Language Pledge® taken by all staff members in my Academy and I will not speak a language other than [language] in their presence. I understand that failure to comply with the Language Pledge® may result in a call to my parents or guardians and that subsequent infractions may result in my expulsion from MMLA without credit or refund."

Why are students required to take the Pledge?

The Pledge helps you focus your energies on the acquisition of language skills and to internalize the patterns of communication and cultural perspective associated with the target language. The Language Pledge® plays a major role in the success of the Academy, both as a symbol of commitment and as an essential part of the language learning process. It ensures that the vocabulary and structures gained in group sessions are “put in motion” right away so they are acquired, used and remembered.

Are beginning students, who have never studied the language, required to take the Language Pledge®?

Those students beginning your study of a language take a modified and progressively more rigorous, Pledge. The Academy has built-in times and structures to enable beginners to succeed during the early learning period. All staff members at the Academy are bilingual and can speak to you in both the target language and English. When is the Language Pledge® waived? You are not expected to speak in your language of study when you are faced with an emergency, when conversing with a member of the Academy administrative staff, when speaking with the nurse or a health care professional or when speaking with a member of the host institution staff or during phone calls with family. In addition, you are not required to speak in your language of study during specific times designated by Academy faculty or when you are not under the jurisdiction of the Academy (see below). Most important is adherence to the spirit of the Pledge and the sincere effort to use the target language as exclusively as possible during the session.

What happens if I violate the Language Pledge®?

Adhering to the Language Pledge® is part of the Code of Conduct. However, maintaining the Pledge is a challenging undertaking. A student will receive Verbal Warnings for the first violation. Students who continue to violate the Pledge, receive a Written Warning and a call to parents/guardians. Continued violations result in more serious disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal from the Academy without tuition refund.

What can I do if I’m having difficulty honoring the Pledge?

The Academy’s goal is to have you succeed in our immersion environment, not to punish you for trying. Please seek out Academy staff who will be happy to discuss the nature of the problem, brainstorm ideas for success and offer encouragement and support. Remember that you are probably not alone in experiencing challenges, but the goal is to try your best to overcome—not succumb to—them.

May I read books, newspapers or magazines in a language other than my target language? May I listen to music in other languages?

Please do not bring reading material and/or music in English or any language other than your target language. Again, the Pledge is not simply a rule against using languages other than your target language; it’s a commitment for using your target language. Therefore, you should read, listen and write (except for letters home) only in your language of study. Doing otherwise is a violation of the Pledge. However, at the Academy, language use includes listening, reading and writing, as well as speaking; you will have access to interesting things to read, listen to and watch in your target language. Families are encouraged to send mail in either English, your native language or in the language you are studying. While letters in English (or your native language) are fine, we ask that family and friends please refrain from sending English language/native language magazines, videos, DVDs, etc. The use of all such material will slow a student’s progress in the target language.