Interested in getting immersed in a language without studying abroad?
If you answered yes, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to tell you about my experience with Middlebury Language Schools this past summer.
I first applied to Middlebury Language Schools my Sophomore year when looking for ways to improve my French, knowing I wouldn’t be able to study abroad because of my immigration status. I had another internship offer, so I decided not to go to Middlebury that summer, but I applied again for this previous summer, right before my senior year. I received my financial aid decision for the program pretty late in the game, so I almost decided against going, but I’m very thankful I did.
I was able to spend some time at home and a few weeks in Michigan for another program because the Language Schools were only 7 weeks. My program ran from late June to mid-August.
I made the trek up to Vermont from Connecticut on the train and met other students going to the same program along the way. We were all welcomed with this sign where we would be checking in.
Though it wasn’t Paris, I was excited for the change in scenery. This was my first time in Vermont, and although the Middlebury campus did feel a bit more secluded than I was used to, I quickly grew attached to the campus, the nature, and beautiful sunsets like these.
The immersive summer program is designed to fit 3 college semesters’ worth of language instruction into 7 weeks, so we had to hit the ground running. The morning after I arrived, I took my oral exam to be placed into the level that best fit me. Our placements were emailed to us the next day so that we could be ready to start classes bright and early the following day.
My days consisted of four classes from 8am to 2pm with two hour-long breaks for breakfast and lunch. Within our levels, we were split up into smaller groups of about 8 students so that the professors could better focus on our language instruction. This meant several hours each day spent with this lovely group of people below.
One of the signature features of the Language Schools is the trademarked Language Pledge to only speak the target language for the duration of the program. We ate our meals with our language schools and lived in language-specific dorm buildings as well. We were even able to sign up for activities outside of class like hiking, theater, radio, etc. This was designed to encourage full immersion.
While it was difficult to adjust at first, we were speaking to each other easily in French by the end. It almost felt weird to hear each other speak English once the pledge was lifted during our closing celebration.
I am very grateful for my experience at Middlebury and hope to return again one day. I was able to return to Harvard this year with a newfound confidence taking French classes here. Check out the Language Schools page here and this could be you next summer!