Modeled after the “No English Spoken Here” pledge taken by students at Middlebury College's Language Schools, the Language Pledge® plays an essential role in the learning process because it represents the students’ commitment to language learning.
What to Expect on the First Day
Upon arrival, students sign a Language Pledge® promising that they will speak in their target language 24/7 and will not speak a single word in any other language for the duration of the program. Students describe the first day after signing the Language Pledge® as a bit awkward and challenging, as everyone gets used to a new way of communicating. But what most find encouraging is that everyone is immersed in the experience together. Knowing they are not alone really builds the bond among peers as they work through this new challenge together as a team and a community.
Immersion Isn't Sink or Swim. It's a Marathon.
The experience of being fully immersed in language isn't one where you simply pass or fail. Rather, the journey includes a succession of many small accomplishments that add up exponentially day by day, week by week. It's not expected that you will always be able to communicate flawlessly, so the program builds a strong network of academic support, residential guidance and individual attention that motivates students to use new vocabulary and seek help from their peers, residential staff and teachers when necessary.
After the first few days, most students say something just “clicks” and it gets easier and easier to communicate in language. By the end of four weeks, most students are amazed at (and proud of!) how easily they are able to carry on a conversation in their target language.
How Does the Language Pledge Work for Beginners?
Beginners—and 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 Language Pledge®, which they will take during their second week at the Academy. Although the Language Pledge® is challenging, student growth is exponential after they overcome the initial barrier. Beginners are quickly integrated into the encouraging and supportive community at the Academy.
Why No Technology?
As part of language immersion, the Academy asks students to leave cell phones and other communication devices with our onsite staff. This policy is intended to keep students focused on the language and their peers at the Academy and minimize the effects of outside influences on the immersion experience.
Students will have access to communication devices (cell phones, Skype, etc.) at designated times during the week when they will be allowed to call home and check social media, if they wish. While communicating during these chat periods, students are allowed to speak English.