Theo, Spanish Academy Student
For Theo, learning Spanish enables her to be part of a global community and to communicate with other people around the world.
“I chose to come to the Academy this summer, because I wanted to improve my Spanish. I think it’s really important to know another language besides English if you’re from the United States. I think it’s important to be more of a global community and be able to communicate with other people. And I think that’s something that they teach here. That’s what I wanted.
“I think that Middlebury has a really interesting philosophy about a global community, and that’s what I wanted. When I heard that they had a shoot off Academy for high schoolers to learn their target language, I thought that that was something I really wanted to do, because it had the values I wanted.
“My first day after I signed the Language Pledge® was a bit of a struggle. I kept wanting to use English when I was talking. I’d come to a word that I didn’t know and I’d be like, Oh… It would be on the tip of my tongue, the word in English. But you had to reel back, go find a dictionary or figure out another way to say it. Circumlocution’s a big thing here.
“The immersion experience is really interesting. I like it. It’s different than just going to Spain and being the only person who has no idea what they’re saying or has to work on what they’re talking about, because here everyone is struggling and it’s all an experience together. Everyone’s with you.
“The activities are probably the most fun part of this experience, because it’s more of a level playing field. Everyone who isn’t really, really, really good at Spanish, it doesn’t matter. If you’re in Latin American dance class, like I am right now, it doesn’t matter if you speak Spanish and know every single word. All that matters is can you move your hips really, really fast. It’s interesting. And you learn about Mayans and Aztecs and Incas, and how their roots influenced cultures today. And I think it’s awesome. And it’s all in Spanish. And it’s difficult to understand, but you’re learning as you’re going. It’s really fun.
“I have to say that my proudest accomplishment here was probably when I could start saying or speaking frases, or, I don’t even know the word in English now, huh. And Spanish without having to think and translate every single word.
“When I could just, when I was reacting to something I could just say what I felt, like oh, OK. And when I realized that I didn’t have to think about what I was saying, it just came out, that was like ah! It was perfect. I love this so much. Can I do this all the time?
“I would absolutely suggest this program for someone who wanted to learn their language, or had a baseline knowledge or none at all. Who just thought that you know what, I’m going to buckle down and do it. That’s the catch. You have to be here because you want to be here. You can’t just be like, eh, you know what, I kind of like Spanish. You have to think you know what, I want to do this and I’m going to work hard. And I’m going to respect to the parable de honor and just muddle through it no matter how hard it is. I think it’s a self-selected group of people who want to be here, who this is perfect for. Now that I’m close to finishing this program, I’m so ready to go to Barcelona and go for a couple months. Or take a job, be a nanny there. I’m so excited.
“I feel like my future is… There are more possibilities for me now that I have a stronger Spanish background and listening to all the other kids here who don’t speak Spanish but speak other languages, now I want to learn them all. So I think it’s really great experience.
“Hello, my name is Theo. I’m from Montpelier, Vermont. I’m 17 years old, and I am studying Spanish here at the Academy.”