Foreign Language Immersions

<p>Middlebury College is considering offering summer language immersions for middle and high school students.</p>

<p>In order to create the most effective programs that meet the needs of parents and students, you are invited to complete a brief on-line survey about language programs. Your response is confidential.</p>

<p>As a token of thanks, when you complete the survey you will be automatically entered into a drawing for your choice of an iPod Video or and iPod Nano.</p>

<p>If you are a parent of a student, click here:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>PM me if you have questions.</p>

<p>Thanks for the link, rhino - I just filled it out & sent it. S attends middle school where the language instruction is so abysmal, we opted out of it. (Teacher would send homework home with grammatical errors in it.) Program at the high school he will attend next year is not much better. It's a frustrating place to be, considering that H & I speak several languages and value the skill highly.</p>

<p>Kat- thanks for completing the survey. Please pass the link on to other parents. PM me if you have any specific questions.</p>

<p>Middlebury should organize programs abroad. My sons have mentioned the Middlebury programs but decided against them when compared to in-country experiences.</p>

<p>The value of programs abroad is great, particulary if the programs are total immersion (not all are). Many middle and high school students want to save the overseas program for college, thus the focus on domestic immersions. </p>

<p>Take a look at the survey. Your opinions will help program development.</p>

<p>The Middlebury College Summer Language Programs for teens is still asking for your opinions on our foreign language survey. Your response will help shape the form of new programs for middle and high school youth.</p>

<p>All completed surveys are entered in a drawing for an iPod Nano or iPod Video.</p>

<p>The survey link is</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I did the survey. </p>

<p>I agree that Middlebury might do well to compete with Concordia on the lower age range. I disagree that parents and kids want to 'save' the abroad experience for college.</p>

<p>I started the survey, but it seems that it's only for parents of younger kids. My kids are too old for MS / HS programs.</p>

<p>I'm with cheers. I did the survey (had a child attend Concordia). The more the better - both for choices in programs and in the number of times kids get to experience other languages/cultures. The day of the "Grand Tour" is past -learning a language is like weight lifting - increase "reps" for maximum effect.</p>

<p>and binx - you've had experience living in another language - I would think your opinions would be valued.</p>

<p>While I agree that learning a language abroad is better - I think many parents feel their middle school and high school kids are too young to be alone that far away. And far too many of the college year abroad programs don't actually result in language immersion.</p>

<p>I started the survey, too, but stopped because my kids are too old.</p>

<p>I did a year abroad when I was in high school. It was not total immersion -- lived with a non-English-speaking family, but went to school with American kids, and had math and English classes in English, history and Spanish in Spanish. One of the issues was that I was in Barcelona, and no one my age and approximate social class was willing to speak Spanish to me until I learned enough Catalan at least to attempt conversation in that language. Many of the kids in my program did not have enough Spanish before they came to get the most out of living there.</p>

<p>I thought about doing something similar for my kids but didn't. It was hard to work out how to take them out of their math and science sequences, and to blow the transition from junior to senior year. I went when I was a sophmore, and it was planned from before my freshman year, so it was easier to handle stuff like that, but it depended on (a) my being pretty mature for my age, (b) my ability to skip two years of Spanish in 9th grade, and (c) my parents' incredible courage to let me do that as a 15-year-old.</p>

<p>One of my sons' friends has spent most of her summers at a francophone camp in Quebec. That has been great for her -- she speaks (somewhat Quebecois) French very well.</p>

<p>At my d's school, they require enough fluency BEFORE going abroad that students have to take a pledge not to use English as part of the program. At her program in Florence, all classes are taught in Italian, all reading is in Italian, all conversation is in Italian, all writing assignments are in Italian, all exams are in Italian. My d. had never taken any Italian before setting foot on her college campus.</p>

<p>But her program is pretty unique. My stepnephew at Duke is outside of Florence at the same time - he doesn't need to know ANY Italian (he isn't even required to study it while there.) So he is basically getting "the grand tour". I don't think there is anything wrong with that either. He won't be able to use it for graduate school, or for really serious study later, but he did get to go abroad and experience, if but somewhat peripherally, another culture, and even that I think is a good thing.</p>

this is why I don't think that a semester abroad is an absolute must for learning a foreign language. I think that an intense language course, taught by people skilled in teaching foreign languages (and not necessarily natives, though that's a plus) can be just as if not more effective. That's why I'd be interested in a program run by Middlebury. They would know how to do it effectively.</p>

<p>I agree. But I think time abroad is essential for learning the culture. Otherwise, why not just take one of those courses in "reading German" that they give to grad students to pass their language tests? Why immersion at all?</p>

<p>I filled out the survey! I have a 7th grader currently and one in high school. My older son has been abroad and it made a huge difference in learning the language. My younger son will be going to Europe this summer with his teachers for a 17 days "language experience" that I am guessing will be more fun and motivational than anything else, but we have been looking at Concordia this summer for Spanish. I am hoping to send my younger son to an immersion program in Spain or South America between 8th and 9th grade to help with his Spanish. I am always on the look-out for good language options, both summer and study abroad.</p>

<p>So here's an article from a close friend of my d.:</p>

<p>I know that I will get lost. In fact, it is my exact motivation for heading out alone without a map on a Saturday morning. I am not able to distinguish one narrow cobblestone street here in Florence from the one adjacent to it, and for this reason I set out on my first adventure alone, so that I can soon look down those streets with nothing but recognition and a curious smile. Equipped with an Italian dictionary and writing implements, I wander aimlessly down the middle of the uneven streets, saying "ciao" and "buon giorno" to the owners of shops who wait patiently outside, smoking and chatting with the owners on the opposite side. I walk in a kind of zig-zag line, often stepping around bicycles that are parked on the sidewalk which permits either a person or a bike. I wait at a stop light to allow an impeccably dressed young woman on a Vespa to whiz by me, designer heels delicately placed on the pedals, and shopping bags hanging off the handles - this kind of driver is not a rare sight! After making several random turns and traveling down long paths, I find myself at a large outdoor market. A grin creeps across my face, and I walk directly into the chaos. Imagine the stock market selling fruit; this is the kind of market I have found. I stroll past wet, colorful fruits, the largest mushrooms I have ever seen, and tables piled high with vegetables I cannot name. I watch a woman cradling her cell phone in her shoulder, passing her cigarette from her hand to her mouth in order to retrieve the vendor's scale and weigh her produce. She is bargaining with the vendor and telling the party on the other line that, yes, she will be sure to buy yellow peppers; she is looking at them right now, so what does he want for dinner? I could stand in this market for a long time, listening to the musical language pour out of their mouths and wrap comfortably around my ears, but I must continue; there is more exploring to be done. </p>

<p>I am lured into a shop after glancing in and seeing a wall of nothing but jars. It is a marmalade shop unlike anything I have ever experienced. A woman about 65 years old, a little more than four feet tall, coos in joy at my entrance. She quickly comes over to me and asks me what I need. I do not know where to begin. It turns out that Alberta studied in England for some years and speaks English very well. I insist that she speak only in Italian, and she excitedly claps her hands as she compliments me on my mastery of the language. I inform her that I want to buy a little gift of marmalade for my host mother. She reaches up and squeezes my cheek, "Che bella sei tu! What a sweet-a girl-a to bring-a little gift-a for the mother!" I then stand in silence and absolute amazement at this woman's knowledge of her shop, and how many different jams there are and their various purposes-I didn't really know jam went on anything other than bread. She directs me to pick out jars from the high shelves (shelves which are at my chest), and I tell her she has a beautiful store and a fabulous variety of jams from which to choose. Alberta then leads me by the hand to show me the store next door that her sister owns, "Ooh!! Wine on tap! Wait-a til-a you see this-a!" As I am being tugged down the street, Alberta's hand wrapped tightly around three of my fingers, I examine her beauty. She is looking at me over her shoulder, verbalizing how delighted she is that someone has come to visit her. Her smile, the lines around her eyes and her hearty walk tell me she is doing what makes her feel good. I think to myself, "If we could all be so lucky." </p>

<p>Alberta proved that getting lost in a city that has innumerable joys to offer is only beneficial. I am introduced to her very handsome nephew, who is an English professor at a university. Alberta raises her eyebrows at me, and I laugh at her attempt to set me up with one of the family. The three of us talk of John Donne, Calvino and Shakespeare on the steps of her sister's wine shop-wine on tap, by the way, is hysterical to see! She tells me to come visit her, and her nephew of course, anytime I want. I promise to do so. After buying some marmalade, she leads me again by the hand to a café in a piazza, where I sit alone and think about my experience. One woman affected my entire day, my mood and my sense of belonging here in Italy. I head home, not only confident of my Italian language skills, but also sure that I will truly find anything I am looking for. From here on, I make my own map.</p>

<p>No doubt: time abroad is essential to perfect the language. (I think it's essential to being a fully aware adult, but that's another story.) But I also think you can learn a language fairly well here, if you put your mind to it. I've seen really successful immersion programs done in the US by non-native language teachers. At Berkeley, they had these intense 3 month long summer courses that covered one full academic year. Several hours of language instruction per day, lab, homework, etc. The program produced some of the best language students in their departments. Of course, most of these students went on to do study abroad -- but the excellent base they received was at home, with teachers who weren't necessarily natives.</p>

<p>mini - that is a lovely article. Is your d's friend doing an exchange year as a HS or college student? Is the article being published? Where?</p>

<p>Sorry, here's the link to the article:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>and the link to the program:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>It has paid off in Fulbright scholarships:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>