Welcome to the MIL French Summer Academy @ GMC from Becky Kelley!

June 26, 2018

Bonjour! My name is Becky Kelley and I am the Language Director of the French Academy at Green Mountain College. I am very excited to get to know all of our students, introduce them to what life is going to be like here for the next four weeks, and see their curiosity, excitement, and language progress skyrocket!

To give you a bit of background, this is my fourth summer here at the French Academy and my second as Language Director. In previous years, I have taught both the beginning and advanced levels, as well as a Cultural Exploration class on ballet history and technique. I am a graduate of Middlebury College, the Middlebury Language Schools, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, so I am very familiar with our approach here at the Academies, and have seen its strong success not only in my students but previously in myself as well. During the year, I am a French teacher at a middle school in Byfield, MA, and every year I love returning to the French Academy to work with our talented educators and engaged students.

Yesterday in the French Academy we started off with an orientation into our approach and pedagogy here. In a presentation with all the students, I asked them to consider how we learn our first language and to think about both the similarities and differences between learning a first versus a second language. We talked about the “rules” in English that we, as native English speakers, know innately but have never been taught. We discussed the fact that this summer, they will be learning not only during their classes, but also at the dinner table, on the soccer field, and even in the bathroom while brushing their teeth. They will be surrounded by French constantly, and I encouraged them to notice as much as they can about the language - not only the specific words being used, but the way in which they are being used, and the language that they hear in various contexts. It is through being curious, thinking critically, and observing as much as they can that they will be able to take full advantage of all the learning opportunities that surround them this summer.

Today, classes really got rolling and the students started embracing new thoughts, ideas, and language. In the mornings, they have their language classes, and this week they will be discussing daily routines here at the Academy as well as in other countries, taking personality quizzes and analyzing their accuracy, and, for our beginners, simply learning to greet and speak politely to one another. In the afternoons, students take our Cultural Exploration classes. In these classes, students are studying and performing classic French plays, reading and creating comic strips, or examining the concept of beauty and how it is viewed by different cultures in the Francophone world. They are also learning about the Guignol Puppet Theater in Lyon, France, and trying out some delicious French recipes. All of these classes are carefully planned by our teachers to create an engaging, immersive environment in which they learn new things, practice their French skills, and have a lot of fun!

And the best is still yet to come! Next Monday, we are excited to welcome Jeh Kulu, a West African dance and drumming group from Burlington, VT. They will be providing workshops for our students, as well as giving a performance. As the summer progresses, we will also have a Quebecois folk dance group perform and teach us traditional dances. We will take a field trip to a French restaurant in Brandon, VT to learn about (and eat!) French food. And lastly, we will travel to Middlebury College to engage in activities with the French School there.

I’ve had so much fun already with all our students and staff, and we’re just getting started! I can’t wait to continue to get to know each and every one of our students and see the incredible progress they are all going to make. If you have any questions throughout the program, please feel free to reach out to me at bkelley@middleburyinteractive.com.

Merci et bon été!

Becky Kelley