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Wofford partners with Middlebury- Monterey Language Academy for language immersion summer program

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2010-10-07

Academy will offer French, German, Spanish to pre-college students

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College will become a new site in the summer of 2011 for the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA), a language immersion summer program for pre-college students in its fourth year.

The academy currently offers four-week residential sessions in Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Spanish at a total of three locations on campuses in Vermont (Green Mountain College), Ohio (Oberlin College) and California (Pomona College). MMLA began as a collaboration of the Middlebury Language Schools in Middlebury, Vt., and the Monterey Institute of International Studies, in Monterey, Calif., a graduate school of Middlebury College. The Middlebury Language Schools are recognized as a leader in language education.

The program at Wofford, which will serve as the Southern hub for the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy, will bring together more than 70 faculty and staff from around the country and the world with approximately 250 middle and high school students. It will offer programs in French, German and Spanish.

“For Wofford to be entering into a partnership with the distinguished Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy is dramatic confirmation of the quality of our own program of foreign language study and our growing national reputation,” Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap, president of Wofford, says. “This is a great achievement for the college.” He credits the establishment of the partnership with the dedicated work of Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, and Dr. Ana Maria J. Wiseman, dean of international programs and associate professor of foreign languages.

“We are excited to be partnering with an institution that understands and values the importance of foreign language skills,” Kevin Conroy, director of MMLA, says. “MMLA’s immersion approach to teaching language and culture — like that of the internationally recognized Middlebury Language Schools — is an ideal way to provide today’s young people with the skills and resources to become tomorrow’s citizens.”

Wofford is a national leader in the percentage of undergraduates receiving credit for study abroad, currently ranking sixth in the Open Doors survey.

“Our nation desperately needs more citizens with better foreign language and cultural competency skills,” Wood says. “Our partnership with MMLA represents another important step in Wofford’s attempt to meet this challenge.”

Wofford offers majors in Chinese, French, German and Spanish; minors in Chinese studies and German studies; a Portuguese track; and a program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. All majors spend a semester studying abroad in an area of the world that speaks their language of study. In addition, all foreign language majors earn internationally recognized certificates in oral and written language proficiency from the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages, a value-added credential positioning for graduates for the workplace or graduate study.

Over the past four years, the department of foreign languages has produced an average of 32 graduates a year, with 17 students a year completing a second major. Thirty-five percent of all inductees to the college’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society, have been foreign language majors, and 90 percent have participated in at least one semester of study abroad.

In April 2010, the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy become part of Middlebury Interactive Languages, a new company formed by Middlebury College and K12, a technology-based education company and national leader in online learning. Building on Middlebury’s long history of leadership in language teaching and K12’s expertise in online education, the new company will create and distribute online language learning courses and oversee the development of the MMLA.

In 2010, more than 800 students — 23 percent of whom received financial assistance — participated in the program under the guidance of almost 300 faculty and staff members, including experienced language teachers from public, private and international schools throughout America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Students participating in the academies will immerse themselves completely in their language of study and commit to speaking only the target language, both inside and outside the classroom, throughout the program’s duration.

MMLA is designed to meet the learning styles of middle and high school students in a fun and challenging environment. Students live in language-specific residence halls, participate in language instruction, and speak their target language in every activity — cooking classes, group hikes, athletic competitions and social events. Through a carefully planned progression of language learning and culture studies designed for beginning to advanced levels, MMLA students are challenged to make language breakthroughs while cultivating new friendships and enjoying themselves.

For more information, visit www.mmla.middlebury.edu or call 802-443-2900.