MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College and Brandeis University have announced the establishment of the Brandeis University-Middlebury School of Hebrew, which will open in the summer of 2008. As Middlebury’s 10th Language School, it will be the newest summer program since the Portuguese School was inaugurated in 2003.

The curriculum of the seven-week session will focus on modern Hebrew, and enrolled students will adhere to the Middlebury College Language Pledge, a formal commitment to speak the language of study and no other for the entire summer session. The school will also offer optional coursework for qualified students interested in developing their linguistic skills in classical Hebrew. Administrators anticipate an initial enrollment of approximately 40 students.
According to Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz, the establishment of the School of Hebrew is part of the college’s objective to provide a comprehensive Middle East Studies program. “Just as it would be academically questionable to offer a Latin American Studies program by teaching Spanish and not Portuguese, so would it be academically questionable to offer a Middle East Studies program by teaching Arabic and not Hebrew,” said Liebowitz.

“This newest addition to the Language Schools fulfills a longtime goal to provide a comprehensive program in Middle East language study,” said Middlebury College Dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad Michael Geisler. “As a recognized leader in language instruction and cultural studies, Middlebury is pleased to see this collaboration with Brandeis become a reality.”

The school has named Vardit Ringvald director. Ringvald is a professor of Hebrew and the director of Hebrew and Arabic languages at Brandeis University, where she has been teaching since 1984. Her areas of expertise include curriculum for teaching modern Hebrew at the secondary and post-secondary levels, application and proficiency in foreign language, and methods for integrating culture into the classroom. Ringvald is one of the only oral proficiency interviewer testers, trainers and raters for the Hebrew Speaking Test developed by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) in the United States. She and several of her colleagues wrote “Brandeis Modern Hebrew,” which has become the standard college Hebrew textbook in America. Ringvald graduated from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, received her master’s from Hebrew College in Newton, Mass., and her doctorate from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

“The Brandeis methodology perfectly complements the immersion philosophy of the Middlebury Language Schools,” said Ringvald. “By uniting the programs of both institutions, we’re providing language students with highly experienced Hebrew language educators in an immersion environment to maximize language acquisition for students at all levels.”

In the Language Schools’ 93-year history, more than 40,000 students of all ages, nationalities, and from all walks of life have attended one or more of the nine schools. More than 11,000 of these students have earned a master’s degree or doctorate of modern languages from the Language Schools where, this year, more than 1,300 students are enrolled. Under the guidance of approximately 240 faculty members from colleges and universities throughout the world, students live on campus, totally immersed in their target language.

The college currently offers summer sessions for nine foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, as well as graduate-level French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. In 2007, the Language Schools added a master’s degree in Chinese, which students can earn in four summers at Middlebury’s Vermont campus, or in two summers in Vermont and an academic year at the Middlebury-affiliated Monterey Institute of International Studies. The Arabic and Portuguese sessions also offer non-degree, graduate-level courses.

For more detailed information, contact Middlebury College Language Schools Director of Institutional Collaboration and Marketing Jamie Northrup at 802-443-5856 or jnorthru@middlebury.edu.