Find answers to frequently asked questions about immersion the Language Pledge®.
What is immersion?
When at the Academy, you will not use any language other than your target language for the entirety of the language camp. You will speak with your friends, teachers and other people at the program solely in language.
How does the Academy create 24/7 immersion in the United States?
The Academy requires students to take a Language Pledge® promising that they will speak in language 24/7 and will not speak a single word in any other language for the duration of the program. Modeled after the “No English Spoken Here” pledge taken by students at the Middlebury College Language Schools, the Pledge plays an essential role in the learning process because it represents the students’ commitment to language learning. It is not expected that students will always be able to communicate flawlessly, so the program builds a strong network of academic support, residential guidance and individual attention which motivates students to use new vocabulary and seek help from their peers, Residential Educators and teachers when necessary.
Are beginners expected to take the Language Pledge®?
Beginners—we have many beginners—take a modified Pledge which allows them to speak some English in class for the first week. During this time, students will compile a language guide of communication basics which prepares them for the rigor of the full Pledge, which they will take during their second week at the Academy. Although the Pledge is challenging, student growth is exponential after they overcome the initial barrier and beginners are quickly integrated into the encouraging and supportive community at the Academy.
Do students actually uphold the Language Pledge®?
There are certainly times when students struggle to keep the Pledge and some students may slip up and use English here and there, but overall students take the experience very seriously and are passionate about staying in language. Additionally, the Residential Educators and instructors are given strategies to encourage students to stay in language. Ultimately, however, it is an honor system. After students sign the Pledge, it is our clear expectation that students honor it and the large majority of students do so.
Are there punishments for students who break the Language Pledge®?
Students who break the Pledge repeatedly may face disciplinary action, revocation of privileges or calls home. However, habitual Pledge breaking is not common, and we rarely have to take any sort of action because the students recognize that breaking the Pledge not only jeopardizes their own progress in the language, but also their peers’ progress as well.
Can I use English for phone conversations with parents and family? What about emergencies?
The program excuses students from the Language Pledge® during emergencies, as well as for periodic telephone conversations with family members and other persons outside the program. However, we ask that students leave their cell phones in our program office so that conversations in English do not disrupt the in-language conversations around the rest of the campus.