Every summer for the past 91 years, Middlebury residential summer schools creats a unique linguistic environment, one that provides students with unlimited opportunities to speak their target language. Students at Middlebury's summer language schools use their target language - Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish - exclusively in class, dining halls, dormitories, and during co-curricular activities. Five of these summer language schools - French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish - also offer six weeks graduate programs, leading to aquiring the status of the Master of Arts or of Middlebury's unique status of Doctor of Modern Languages.
All summer language schools students agree to abide by the Language Pledge, a formal commitment to speak, listen, read, and write in the language of study, and regard it as the only means of communication for the entire summer session. It is the foundation of all of their intensive immersion programs. The Language Pledge originated in Language Schools and the term is a registered trademark of Middlebury College. So, what does the Language Pledge say?
The Language Pledge says: "In signing this Language Pledge, I agree to use this language as my only language of communication while attending the Middlebury Language Schools. I understand that failure to comply with this Pledge may result in my expulsion from the School without credit or refund."
The Pledge helps students focus their energy on improving their language skills and internalizing the patterns of communication and cultural perspective associated with the target language. The Language Pledge is of major importance to the success of the program, both as a symbol of commitment and as an essential part of the language learning process. It ensures that the vocabulary and structures gained in class are "put in motion" right away so they are acquired, used, and not forgotten.
Students who are beginning to study a language take a modified and more rigorous Pledge. Each School has built-in structures to enable beginners to survive and succeed during those first several days. Each School also has a bi-lingual coordinator who will speak to students in English. Also, all of Language School Directors, the Dean of the summer language schools, and most faculty are available for consultations in English.
Rules and practices regarding implementation of the Language Pledge vary slightly among the summer language schools. When in doubt, consult the director or coordinator of your School. Most important is adherence to the spirit of the Pledge and each student's sincere effort to use the target language as extensively as possible during the session. Speaking English in the presence of other Language Schools students is a direct violation of the Pledge and must be avoided at all times.
The Language Pledge is a registered trademark of Middlebury College. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted "service mark" protection to the Language Schools based on Middlebury College's continuous use of the phrase since the 1920s to describe its language immersion process.