Montgomery Bell Academy

Montgomery Bell Academy Partnership

How donors at one school in Tennessee are supporting students on their path to language fluency through a partnership with the language Academy.

Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA), a college preparatory school for 720 young men in grades 7-12 in Nashville, Tennessee, is dedicated to providing its students with the opportunity to gain fluency in a foreign language. MBA’s Wilson Language Grants award students with full scholarships to participate in a summer of immersive language study through the language Academy.

The Academy provides passionate middle and high school students with four-week summer language experiences in Spanish, French, Chinese, German and Arabic in the U.S. and abroad. The Academy is based on Middlebury College’s renowned summer Language Schools, which for 100 years have immersed educators, diplomats and interpreters in world language study.

The goal of this unique partnership between MBA and the Academy is to equip students with the language skills and cultural understanding to compete in our 21st Century global marketplace.

Wilson Language Grants: Immersion & Travel

MBA’s Wilson Language Grants encourage high school students with a keen interest in languages and culture to gain further experience and fluency in modern world languages. Awards are given to students who show exceptional potential and maintain superior performance in the language of study. MBA requires that students first participate in a summer of domestic language immersion before applying for a grant for a second summer of language study abroad.

MBA’s partnership with MMLA started in 2012, when two MBA students attended the language program at Pomona College. Upon their return to MBA the next school year, the students demonstrated tremendous language growth, setting the foundation for a larger group of 15 students to attend MMLA in 2013.

According to Connor Kamm, a Spanish teacher at MBA, “Students had a phenomenal experience their first summer and came back leagues above other students in their level.”

The MBA-Academy partnership continues to grow with 25-30 students attending MMLA's domestic immersion programs each year.

The Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy Difference

Students at the Academy sign a Language Pledge®, a formal commitment to communicate fully in the target language at all times—in class, at the dinner table and during activities—which contributes to the tremendous language growth students achieve in just four weeks.

“The Academy really seems to be better than a lot of other programs with a true focus on language learning and student performance,” Kamm stated. “This program is an incredible stepping stone that allows students to immerse themselves in language and learn a lot about the culture in a more structured environment that’s also preparing them for college.”

A Summer of Immersive Language Accelerates Language Growth

The Academy uses the nationally recognized American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency scale to measure student growth. Students take an adaptive assessment to measure their starting and ending proficiency levels. In four weeks living immersed in language and culture, the majority of students will gain at least one full year of language learning as measured on ACTFL’s language proficiency scale.

At MBA, language teachers have seen the vast majority of students return with “impressive growth” with many students jumping from a Level 2 Honors class to Advanced Placement® without having to take the Level 3 course.

“Students return more engaged and invested in the language and culture,” said Kamm. “We are really happy with the Middlebury program and love what the Academy does for our students and their language and personal growth.”

Is your school interested in a partnership with the Language Academy? Contact Erin McCormick at to discuss partnership opportunities.