The Importance of the Language Pledge

February 11, 2014

The Language Pledge is the foundation of the Academy experience and what differentiated learning at the Academy from my language learning during the school year.

Attending the Academy was the first time I participated in an immersion environment, and while I was nervous about expressing myself and making friends in a second language, I was also excited to be able to speak Mandarin outside the limits of my classroom.

I can’t express all the benefits that full immersion had on both my language learning and my experience at the Academy. While I developed confidence in my speaking ability, I also made closer friends than I think I could have otherwise. Though there were several moments when I couldn’t fully express an idea or ask the exact question I wanted to ask, I was always met by a supportive group of RA’s, teachers, and friends who understood the challenges of living in a second language. Some of my favorite memories from the Academy actually come from the misunderstandings I had between friends and RA’s because I mixed up a word I thought I had heard earlier or pronounced a word with a different intonation.

While the Language Pledge was probably the most daunting part of initially signing up for the Academy, the full-immersion environment made my experience much more exciting and rewarding. The countless benefits of the pledge are intangible and continue to influence my language learning in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated before attending the program.

Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore.