A man stands in front of green trees in a suit and tie.
Marco Antonio Huerta Alardín, Ph.D

Hear about Dr. Marco Antonio Huerta Alardín’s first summer as a professor at the Middlebury Language Schools School of Spanish

A shot from above of the Middlebury College campus at sunset.
Middlebury College from above.  (Credit: BroolVideo )

My first summer as faculty in the prestigious School of Spanish at Middlebury College was a transformative experience that I will cherish and remember for years to come. Teaching at the 7-week program not only expanded my philosophy as a language instructor, but it also profoundly impacted my understanding of what it truly means to be part of a learning community. This experience was framed by the kindness and welcoming nature of the Vermonters, Otter Creek, the historic 19th-century limestone buildings, and its more often than not blue skies shining over the lush green hills of the unceded ancestral land of the Abenaki people.

The program’s immersive environment and its fast-paced curriculum challenged me to push the boundaries of my teaching practice. I had to find innovative ways to engage my students, fostering their language acquisition in a dynamic and interactive manner. This experience forced me to step out of my comfort zone to devise ways to make the learning process more engaging and effective for a diverse classroom. 

I learned to appreciate the value of student input in a more supportive way. Through meaningful everyday interactions with my students, who had taken the pledge to speak only in Spanish, I learned to listen actively and respond to their immediate learning needs. But I also had the privilege of getting to know them personally and learn about their dreams, concerns, and perspectives. This not only created a more inclusive and joyful learning environment, but also nurtured a sense of trust and solidarity in the classroom.

Beyond the classroom, the co-curricular activities allowed me to develop a stronger bond with students. Through shared experiences, whether it was cultural events, language tables, or group projects, I had the opportunity to know my students on a personal level. This deeper connection enriched our interactions in the classroom and created a supportive and collaborative learning environment. Special shoutouts to all the dear friends I made during the rehearsals of “El Ladrón de Palabras” and in every live interview on “Radio Radiante,” as well as to all its listeners through the airwaves. I also extend my heartfelt appreciation to all the students and faculty who signed up for the Zapotec poetry reading group. 

If you are determined to attend the Summer Language Schools, I hope you allow yourself to seek an uplifting and cooperative experience like mine. You have to do your part, because you are responsible for your classmates’ learning experiences. I assure you that you will discover a learning environment with faculty, staff, and students who will do everything in their hands to make sure that everyone has a great learning experience over the summer. As I reflect on my time at Middlebury College, I am grateful for the learning community that I am now a part of as an educator and a colleague. 

Spanish faculty stand side by side on the chapel steps.
School of Spanish Faculty, 2023. (Credit: Brett Simison Photography )

As a learner of Isthmus Zapotec, I had heard before about the proverbial comparison between learning, especially a second language, and rowing a boat upstream: if you stop rowing, you will lose all the progress you made. I want to take a moment to encourage my students to look back at their time in the program, to stay motivated and keep rowing upstream. Remember you don’t have to row alone, because now you belong to a very special learning community. 

¡Somos parte de una vibrante comunidad de hablantes de español en la que podemos crecer y aprender juntxs! 

Students sit together on the chapel steps.
Middlebury Language Schools School of Spanish 2023.  (Credit: Brett Simison Photography )

Dr. Huerta Alardín was part of the School of Spanish as Summer Language Faculty at Middlebury College in the summer of 2023. He taught the course “Hispanic Societies and Cultures” for two sections in Nivel Dos. He currently serves as Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow 2023-24 in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Irvine.