Middlebury has announced the opening of its 13th language school, the English Language School (ELS), which will focus on teaching students learning English as a second language. The program, hosted at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, will begin with the 2022 summer session and continue through the remainder of the academic year in the fall and spring sessions.
Under the direction of Rogers Walker, Director of the new ELS, the program will draw on the history and experience of teaching English in Middlebury, incorporating it with the unique characteristics of Middlebury language schools that promote complete linguistic immersion.
“I think my first priority [going forward] is to maintain the level of quality we have had in teaching the English language and to ensure that we continue to provide an excellent, top-quality language teaching experience to all the students we welcome here,” said said Walker. He told The Campus that prior to ELS, MIIS had run several intensive English programs over the years. “We have over 50 years of experience in teaching the English language, we have run a variety of different programs, and this English language school will continue to build on that heritage.”
The school will require students to take the Language Pledge – a promise to communicate only in the language studied – in order to maximize reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. While Middlebury and MIIS share many common values and practices, Walker looks forward to finding other ways in which ELS can incorporate other parts of Middlebury’s language instruction into its curriculum.
“I think [Middlebury] is well known in the language teaching field for being excellent at teaching English. But we want to work with language schools to learn from what they do really well,” Walker said.
Walker explained that ELS will have several goals for its students. It will emphasize a communicative approach to the program that will enable students to express themselves meaningfully in English on topics that interest them. Walker also expressed his intention to create an authentic learning experience with activities that bring the real world into their lessons and remembering how language fosters human relationships.
“We want to bring the things that people would normally do in everyday life into the classroom and really break down the barriers between the classroom and the outside world,” Walker said. “I think [English language learning] is truly a way to bridge cultural gaps and make the world a better place by facilitating better communication and understanding.
The new school accepts students operating at intermediate to advanced skill levels, with the expectation that anyone enrolled will have already learned the English alphabet, simple vocabulary and other basic parts of the language. ELS will also invite professors from Middlebury and other institutions to be guest speakers this summer to encourage classroom engagement. One of the main goals of ELS, Walker said, will be to prepare students for their future, whether that means enrolling in higher education or joining the professional workforce.
In addition to the general curriculum, ELS will also teach a six-week English-language graduate preparation program for students admitted to MIIS to prepare them for classroom participation and communication with faculty.
Beyond intensive English instruction in the classroom, ESL students will participate in extracurricular activities like volleyball, cooking, and movie nights. These activities help to advance students’ vocabulary and develop their cultural fluency. An annual activity for all MIIS students called “Beach Day” – where students take a trip to Monterey Bay and participate in beach activities – will soon include ELS students as well. Walker said the students greatly valued these experiences and that they helped to develop both English fluency and a sense of community among the students.
“Language learning is a highly social phenomenon. Technology and all these things are important in our daily lives and in language education, but we cannot forget the fundamental importance of human connection in language learning. That’s why I got involved in language teaching,” Walker said.
As for the future of the program, the English language school will continue after this summer session in the fall 2022 and spring 2023 sessions. ELS is currently accepting applications for the summer and the fall. The program accepts students of any age and from anywhere in the world, including domestic students. For the eight-week session, the tuition is $3,900 and for the 16-week session, it is $6,500. The ELS Dates and Fees page estimates several additional expenses, including those related to housing, food, and health insurance.
“Diversity is definitely one of the main goals I have for the language school and to ensure that the school is able to accommodate as many students as possible. Any student who wants to join, we want there to be a space for them,” Walker said.