Middlebury announced the opening of its 13th language school, the English Language School (ELS), which will focus on the instruction of students learning English as a second language. The program, hosted at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey, will begin with the summer 2022 session and run for the rest of the academic year in fall and spring sessions.
Under the guidance of Rogers Walker, director of the new ELS, the program will build on the history and experience of English instruction at Middlebury, incorporating it with the unique features of Middlebury Language Schools that promote full language immersion.
“I think my first priority [going forward] is to continue the level of quality that we've had in English language instruction, and to ensure that we continue providing an excellent, top quality language education experience for all the students that we welcome here,” Walker said. He told The Campus that, prior to the ELS, MIIS has run several intensive English programs over the years. “We've had over 50 years of experience with English language education, we've run a variety of different programs, and this English language school will continue to build on that legacy.”
The school will require students to take the language pledge — a promise to only communicate in the language being studied — to maximize reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. While Middlebury and MIIS have many common values and practices, Walker looks forward to finding other ways that the ELS can integrate other parts of Middlebury’s language instruction into its program.
“I think [Middlebury] is well known in the field of language instruction for being excellent at teaching English. But we want to collaborate with the language schools to learn from what they do really well,” Walker said.
Walker explained that the ELS will have several goals for its students. It will focus on a communicative approach for the program that will allow students to express themselves meaningfully in English about things that interest them. Walker also expressed his plan for creating an authentic learning experience with activities that incorporate the real world into their lessons and by 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 world outside,” Walker said. “I think [English language learning] really is a way to bridge cultural divides and to make the world a better place through facilitating better communication and better understanding.”
The new school accepts students operating at proficiency levels from intermediate to advanced, expecting that anyone enrolled has previously 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 engagement in class. One major goal of the ELS, Walker said, will be to prepare students for their future, whether that is enrolling in higher education or joining the professional workforce.
In addition to the general program, ELS will also teach a six-week English Preparation for Graduate Studies program for students admitted to MIIS to prepare them to participate in the classroom and communicate with professors.
Beyond the intensive English instruction in the classroom, ESL students will participate in co-curricular activities like volleyball, cooking and movie nights. These activities help advance the students’ vocabulary and build 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 the ELS students as well. Walker said the students greatly enjoy these experiences and that they help build both English proficiency and a sense of community among students.
“Language learning is a highly social phenomenon. Technology and all those things are important in our day-to-day lives and in language instruction, but we can't forget the basic importance of human connection in language learning. That's why I got involved in language education,” Walker said.
Looking to the future of the program, the English Language School will continue after this summer session into fall 2022 and spring 2023 sessions. The ELS is currently accepting applications for the summer and fall. The program accepts students of any age and from anywhere in the world, including domestic students. For the eight-week session, 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 for housing, food and health insurance.
“Diversity is definitely one of the key goals that I have for the language school and making sure that the school is able to welcome as many students as possible. Any student who wants to join, we want there to be a space for them,” Walker said.