Our immersive summer language program is about creating a supportive community to optimize language learning, where every moment becomes an opportunity for language exploration.
In the field of language education, you often hear a familiar story. People recall traveling and exploring early in life. They attended exciting study abroad programs in high school and college; the sites were amazing, and the cultures were rich with history and tradition. In retrospect, however, the experience was sometimes disappointing. There was so much time spent speaking English with other American students on the program that their language skills didn’t improve much at all.
What is Language Immersion?
Language immersion is a proven method of language pedagogy in which all learning happens in your language of study. The Academy is a full-immersion program, meaning that all instruction, activities and interactions are in language—for the entire duration of the program.
With immersion, language and culture are inextricably linked. Class materials may come in the form of a magazine clipping or a YouTube music video. Vocabulary words are learned through daily activities—playing a game of soccer or learning how to cook dumplings. The immersion experience is what sets our program apart from other language learning programs. As one student describes it, “Immersion is how you learn. Once you’re immersed, you’re not going to learn the language just because you want to. You’re going to learn to the language because you need to communicate.”
How Is Immersion Different from Other Language Learning Methods?
In school, language classes often focus on grammar and vocabulary when they meet for 40 minutes a day. At the Academy—though grammar and vocabulary are a large part of the curriculum—the immersive environment is what enables students to quickly improve their speaking and listening skills as well through truly living in language.
Students commit to the Language Pledge®, developed at Middlebury College's Language Schools, promising that they will speak in language 24/7 and will not speak a single word in any other language for the entire four weeks of the program. The Language Pledge® plays an essential role in the learning process, because it represents your commitment to participating in a totally immersive community.
Living in an Immersive Community
Because immersion is so inherently about community and interacting with others, your commitment to the Pledge determines not only your own success and growth at the Academy, but the success of your peers as well. In other words, you are all in this together. And the Academy has established an amazing support network to guide you through.
We provide a wonderfully diverse community that welcomes absolute beginners to fluent speakers. We do not emphasize forced memorization, but hearing and repeating as a primary basis. You just go about living your life. The next thing you know, your peers have become your good friends and learning the language has evolved into an organic, familiar experience.