Find answers to frequently asked questions about the summer Language Academy program.
How long has the Academy been running?
The Language Academy opened in the summer of 2008, expanding on Middlebury College Language Schools’ 100 years of experience in foreign language education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
How is the Academy affiliated with Middlebury College?
Our Academy was originally founded by Middlebury College as an extension of their graduate program. The program eventually became too large and split into its own separate entity, Middlebury Interactive Languages. Today, the Middlebury College immersion pedagogy and teaching methodology is still utilized by the program.
What languages can I learn at the Academy?
We offer Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish immersion.
I’ve never studied this language before. Does the Academy accept beginners?
Yes, beginners who have never studied a world language at all are welcome and encouraged to apply to our U.S. immersion programs located in beautiful Vermont!
I already have language experience. Will this program still be beneficial for me?
Of course! In fact, we see a number of students who are already highly proficient attend each year. The 24/7 immersive environment enables students to drastically improve their skills and confidence levels, no matter what level.
Who can attend the Academy?
Our program is for young adults between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age (rising 8th–12th graders). Students entering into 8th grade and those who have just completed their senior year of high school are both eligible to attend. For the study abroad program, we accept students between 14 and 18 years of age (rising 9th–12th graders) and at least one year of language study (rising 9th graders must have a minimum of two years of middle school language study).
How is age generally distributed? What is the average age of an Academy student?
Generally, most students will be 15–16 years of age (9th–10th graders). However, we do see representation from all grade levels. Students attending the study abroad Academies are, on average, around 16–18 years of age (11th graders).
How large are the Academies?
Each of the five Academies varies based upon enrollment and location. Additionally, the numbers are constantly changing as more people apply and determine whether they will attend. Generally, the Spanish Academy is the largest, and the Arabic Academy is the smallest.
Where is the Academy held?
Academy location depends on language choice and program type. Due to our strong belief that it is beneficial for students of differing levels to interact and our close working relationship with Middlebury College’s Language Schools, we have consolidated all of our domestic programs to Vermont.
All four domestic language Academies (Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic) will be held at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Veremont, which is about fifteeen minutes from Burlington, Vermont and about forty five minutes from Middlebury, Vermont.
Currently, our international programs are located at Ava Maria University in Granada, Spain, Colegio Maestro Ávila in Salamanca, Spain, Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, and the Blanche de Castille boarding school in Nantes, France.
What are the main differences between the U.S. immersion and study abroad programs?
In general, both programs follow very similar curricula. However, studying abroad allows for more authentic cultural immersion because it enables students to interact with native speakers in the local community and explore historic areas around campus. Additionally, while the U.S. based programs accept rising 8th–12 graders and absolute beginners, the study abroad programs only accept 9th–12th graders with at least one year of language experience (rising 9th graders must have at least 2 years of Middle school language experience). Another difference is the price. The U.S. Academy tuition is a bit lower than tuition for the study abroad programs and we only offer financial aid for our U.S. immersion programs. Both U.S. immersion and study abroad programs see very similar language outcomes, with students gaining roughly a year’s worth of language acceleration.
Do I have to be fluent to apply for a study abroad program?
No. Students applying to the abroad programs only need introductory knowledge of the language and at least one year of language experience obtained through completion of an online course or a class at school.
Will I develop location–specific pronunciations if I attend the study abroad program?
No, location specific accents won't be a problem. Our students are exposed to a variety of backgrounds, accents and cultures.
Will I be able to hang out with my friend if they are enrolled in a different Academy?
Generally no, you will not interact with your friends on a daily basis. However, there are several inter-Academy events where you will be able to catch up with your friends.
Do students normally attend the Academy with friends?
Occasionally students will know others attending the program, but the large majority arrive independently. We find that students make fast friends and quickly develop a supportive, tight-knit community.
Is it possible to attend the Academy part–time?
Unfortunately no, it is not possible to accommodate part time attendance. Our intensive immersion approach really requires that students be present and immersed for the entire length of the program.
I will still be in school when the Academy starts. Is it possible for me to arrive late?
While we do not advise students to arrive late, we understand that the school year can run far into June in certain states. If end of the year testing is complete, we recommend pulling your child out of school a few days so they can enjoy the full Academy experience. However, if this is not an option, we can certainly make accommodations for late arrivals due to academic conflicts. Additionally, a late arrival will most likely mean that your child will miss the assessment taken at the start of the program. They will still take the exit exam, but will not have a formal way to compare this to their language level at the start of the program.
Is there any flexibility for an early departure?
It can be very disruptive for a student to leave early because it impacts the strong student community, which has been building during the program. However, it is possible to make accommodations on a case-by-case business. Although students will still benefit from the program if they leave early, their language outcomes will not be as strong as students who attend for the full duration of the program. Additionally, students who leave early will miss several days of final group work and be unable to complete the final assessment which provides quantitative results of the student’s progress at the Academy.
Is this an accredited program?
Unfortunately, no. However, many schools will honor the course with credit if provided with the correct documentation outlining the approximate number of instruction hours, the pre-assessment, post assessment and the teacher evaluation. Typically, we advise students seeking credit for the program to check with a school guidance counselor or a language department chair to determine ahead of time whether it is possible to earn credit for attending the Academy.
Can students return to the Academy for multiple summers?
Of course! Alumni can continue instruction in the same language or chose to immerse themselves in a new language. We have a number of students who attend the U.S. Immersion Academy their first summer and then study abroad their second summer.
Can you accommodate children with special needs?
We have a student–centered model, and we try to adjust the program according to the needs of each student. However, to determine whether we can make the necessary accommodations, please direct any questions of this nature to our Health and Well-Being Consultant, Jane Young at email@example.com.
How do you ensure the safety of the students?
All of our Academies are located on college campuses with security personnel and an extensive network of summer staff on site. Our instructors, some of whom have been with us for multiple years, are all highly qualified middle and high school language teachers. In addition to guiding our students in the classrooms, our teachers also interact with and supervise the students in residential settings. Additionally, we maintain a student to Residential Educators, or RE, ratio of 15:1. The REs, mostly college-age individuals who have studied abroad and have advanced language skills, live in the dorms with the students and offer instruction throughout the day when students aren’t in classes.
Even though the U.S. Immersion locations in Vermont are very safe, students will always be accompanied by staff when leaving campus on field trips. Additionally, older students with extended town privileges are required to travel in groups and check out with a member of the residential life staff before leaving. We take safety very seriously since our students are between the ages of 13–18 and make the boundaries, schedules and expectations very clear to all students. Those who are unable to mind the rules may be sent home.
K12 & Middlebury Interactive Languages
Middlebury Interactive Languages was formed in 2010 as a joint venture between K12 Inc. and Middlebury College, a recognized international leader in language pedagogy. The College participated in the design and review of all Middlebury branded courses and in the governance of the company through 2016 when it sold its ownership interest to K12 Inc. Today, K12 Inc. and its affiliates continue to provide the Middlebury courses under the strict guidelines provided by the College in a license agreement.