The Middlebury Institute’s programs prepare language teachers for challenging assignments.
For two recent teaching foreign language alums, that assignment was teaching in the French program at the world-renowned Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont.
Melody Pao MATFL ’20 and Giulia Beccarelli MATFL ’22 both taught in the program this past summer.
“It was a professional dream come true to return to the Middlebury Language Schools as a teacher!” says Pao, who earned an MA in French literature from Middlebury in 2012. Both Pao and Beccarelli were connected to the opportunity by Professor Thor Sawin, who is now Language Schools associate dean.
“I usually teach ESL in New York every summer, but when I was invited to teach at Middlebury, I really could not refuse, so I changed my plans and joined the team,” says Beccarelli.
“I enjoyed a lot of individual freedom to be creative and develop my own classes, but at the same time, I felt lucky to be part of a supportive and dedicated team,” says Pao. “As a master’s graduate of the Betty Ashbury Jones MA ’86 School of French, I was also very familiar with the campus culture and community. I could empathize with my students, which helped me connect with them and support them as a teacher.”
The two said their master’s program at the Institute prepared them to put theory into action.
“So much of what I learned at MIIS has influenced my teaching philosophy, such as content-based instruction and a preference for authentic materials,” says Pao.
Beccarelli sees the experience as a significant step forward in her career path.
“It adds great value to my current teaching practice, especially in a nonimmersive context in which students are not used to being exposed to the target language.”
Beyond the valuable career experience, Pao feels her summer teaching in Vermont was its own reward.
“I had the best students, who were incredibly motivated and eager to learn. Every day, it was a joy and a gift to teach them.”
The Middlebury Language Schools offer both summer immersion programs and graduate programs to more than 1,500 students each summer. The seven- and eight-week immersion programs take place on the Middlebury College campus, while the graduate programs can be completed over four summers in Vermont, or in one summer and an academic year abroad or online, depending on the language.