| by Mark C. Anderson

News Stories

Student gets close with animal
A student in the English Language School in summer 2023 got up close and personal with some local wildlife.

There are plenty of places to study language in the world or to train to be a language teacher.

But Middlebury’s summer English Language School in Monterey stands apart for people who want to learn English—or learn to teach it.

Middlebury has long been well-known for the depth and intensity of its summer language programs held in Vermont, which include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Attendees take the unique (and trademarked) Language Pledge that commits all participants to using their new target tongue at all times.

The English Language School is the only one based in Monterey, drawing upon the same curriculum that makes all of Middlebury’s language programs life-changing, while adding “only in California” elements.

Many Middlebury Institute TESOL students and alumni have taught in the program over the years.

Elisabeth Ampthor, who is completing her master’s in TESOL, had the chance to put her learning in action as an oral communication instructor and coleader of the English Language School’s hiking club during the summer. “It’s really cool to have a place-based curriculum with our English course that focuses on that opportunity.”

Last summer, Ampthor led trips to local destinations like Monterey Bay Aquarium and Colton Hall. The hiking club—whether scrambling up Huckleberry Hill or tide pooling at Lovers Point—provided a break from idioms and verb conjugations.  

“They’re using the language, but it’s not the focus,” she says. “The focus is exploring the place. The language helps you do that. It takes pressure off to some extent.”

What really lights her up are the bonds that form between students. 

“They’re learning a lot linguistically, but the relationship building and the connections formed with a diverse group are really special,” she says. “It was lovely to see them develop friendships and start putting together their own outings.”

The summer program always includes a good number of incoming Institute master’s students, and instructors work to tailor content and assignments to be relevant to their areas of study, whether nonproliferation and terrorism or environmental policy.

“The approach we have is that, instead of ‘Jane and Jack run down the mountain,’ it’s ‘the European Union discusses what to do about the Ukrainian invasion,’” says instructor Sean Curran. “It’s two for one, really, learning language and prepping for your other coursework. That’s the magic part I think.”

Soleil Turell MATESOL ’22 also helps guide the English program—and feels the not-so-strictly academic moments prove very valuable.

“Students have a ton of chances to practice their English outside of the classroom,” she says. “Because the program is short and most people are away from home, students get really close to one another, which makes them more comfortable practicing the language.”

“It’s all about creating more and more opportunities to practice language skills in a relaxed environment and have fun,” says Kelley Calvert, director of the English Language School. “It’s a vibe: The group grows super tight-knit, and it happens fast—you blink and it’s over—but it’s a meaningful experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

For More Information

Master of Arts in TESOL