Madeleine, French & Spanish Academy

Madeleine's immersion experience at the Spanish and French Academies was superb preparation for college and future adventures around the globe.

I attended the Summer Language Academy at St. Michael’s College when it first began. At the time, I had finished my junior year of high school and was nervous about speaking Spanish all the time, because I had only taken two years of Spanish. Once I arrived, I realized that the other students were just as nervous as I was about taking the Language Pledge. Taking the pledge to speak only Spanish was a good way to learn the language. I didn’t need to resort to English. If I did not know something, I could use sounds or gestures. I also felt like there was a sense of community at the Academy because we were all learning the language together. We had assemblies, classes and sat at meals with the Spanish Academy. I met so many wonderful people who wanted to study Spanish. I also had a wonderful R.A. and teachers who supported me along the way. I learned so much about the Spanish speaking world through the projects and cultural events. After a month, my Spanish was better than ever.

I came back to attend the French Academy in the summer of 2009 in order to prepare myself for college. Knowing that the Academy helped me with my Spanish the previous year, I was ready to improve my knowledge of the French language. My time at the French Academy was amazing. I took a class that focused on May 1968. We read various works of literature, wrote essays and made a presentation. Through the culture projects, I learned more about Paris, French cuisine and art. I became more fluent in French. I became a better speaker and a better writer. I was also amazed by the progress of others. I had seen people coming in not knowing any French, and as the month went on, they being able to have conversations with the R.A.s, teachers, and their peers.

Being at the Academy has made me realize that the best way to learn any language is to be completely immersed in it. Learning a language takes time and effort. I am still studying languages in college now, and I owe much of what I know to my time at the Academy. I am now a multilanguage major studying French, Spanish, and Chinese. In my classes, I am reading novels, writing essays and making presentations in various languages. I also try to meet with my professors and practice speaking in that particular language. I am preparing to go to France next fall, and I feel I am prepared to live and study in France. I feel like I can take the French I learned in the classroom and speak with others every day.