Speaking with a student ambassador is a great way to get a previous student’s perspective on the Language Schools experience.

If you would like to connect with a student ambassador to ask questions, please contact the School of Hebrew at hebrew-ls@middlebury.edu.

Hebrew student Stephanie Breitsman

Stephanie Breitsman

Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Program: 7-week Immersion
Current: Program Officer, Americans for Peace Now

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I knew that I would learn a lot of Hebrew, but I did not realize how much I would also learn about myself. Middlebury's Language Pledge and the live-in experience takes you out of your world, and it also takes you out of the normal course of your life. It's hard; its disorienting; but it can be deeply transformative. I think this is particularly true for those who are starting as relative beginners in their language. 

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I attended the School of Hebrew as a 2018 Kathryn Davis Peace Fellow. I chose Middlebury because of its reputation as an effective and rigorous program. I am planning to start rabbinical school in Fall 2019 and needed to learn as much Hebrew as possible in a limited amount of time.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

My language skills improved drastically at Middlebury. I went into the program having never spoken a sentence in Hebrew. I had studied Biblical Hebrew for a little less than a year and had done a bit of Duolingo. I think I feel more comfortable having a conversation in Hebrew now than in Arabic, which I studied for 6 years. I'm keeping up my Hebrew with my Israeli colleague and in conversation with classmates from Middlebury. 

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Hebrew?

The time goes by fast. Make the best of it, but also be gentle with yourself. Remember that even when you feel like you're not learning, you are. When you hear people from other language schools speaking and think that they sound so much better than you, remember that you sound the same to them, even if you're just polling your group to see who likes dogs or cats (I can guarantee you will know everyone's preference by the end of the summer).

Hebrew student Elizabeth Ho

Elizabeth Ho

Hometown: Irvine, California
Program: 7-week Immersion
Current: Harvard Divinity School, Islamic and Judaic Comparative Studies

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

How much of a catalyst the immersion process was to my learning experience, and just how much of a difference it made in my Hebrew study.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I knew that it was the only place I could be guaranteed both a fully immersive environment and world-class instruction from leading scholars in Hebrew studies.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

Prior to Middlebury, I had taken Hebrew courses for 3 years in a university setting, and yet still could not actually speak the language. After just one summer, I could speak fluidly and comfortably. After two summers, I was near fluency.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Hebrew?

Middlebury can be incredibly intensive and challenging, but also a truly enjoyable and magical experience. There's no place like it around--it's a program, an adventure, and a full life experience.

Hebrew student Dammara Kovnats Hall

Dammara Kovnats Hall

Hometown: New York, New York
Program: 7-week Immersion
Current: Jewish Studies Teacher, Rodeph Sholom School

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I was surprised with how quickly I felt a sense of community and made friends even without being able to communicate what I wanted in the beginning. I was surprised that I began learning to play golf and took up swimming again. I am also still surprised with how much Hebrew I learned in just seven weeks. I overhear Hebrew in New York all the time and now I actually can understand!

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I have wanted to learn Hebrew since I was a child and never felt like I had an immersive language learning experience where I grew substantially enough to feel like I had a grasp of the language. I believe that Hebrew and Judaism are part and parcel of my Jewish identity and that through learning to speak Hebrew I can better understand myself, my heritage, culture and religion.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

My Hebrew writing and speaking skills improved dramatically because of Middlebury. I gained confidence speaking in Hebrew which is fantastic as I share an office with all native Hebrew speakers and am able to converse with them without too much difficulty. I also have a student that is an English language learner who only speaks Hebrew and because of Middlebury I am in a position to support this student.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Hebrew?

If you are even thinking a little bit about coming to Middlebury, APPLY! I had an incredible learning experience while at the same time having a fun and exciting summer. I hope to come back to Middlebury for another amazing summer and continue my learning!

Hebrew student Efrat Li

Efrat Li

Hometown: Beijing, China
Program: 7-week Immersion
Current: University of Cambridge, Hebrew Studies

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

The commitment to the Language Pledge changed my attitude towards learning and way of thinking.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I learned about the Middlebury Language Schools during an academic conference and was inspired by its teaching method.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

I re-activated my Hebrew speaking skills, and my writing was honed during the very intensive training. My reading and listening skills greatly improved, too. Currently I read Hebrew on a daily basis due to my research, and I can read much faster than before.

Hebrew student Andrew Lustig

Andrew Lustig

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Program: 7-week Immersion
Current: Writer, teacher, and performance artist

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I expected the education would be high quality, however I was surprised by how much extracurricular activities Middlebury and the School of Hebrew offered and how nurturing the community of students and the faculty were. Everyone, at every level, does so much to make sure that students can stay completely focused on their learning.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

Achieving Hebrew proficiency has long been something that has been important for me. However, even living in Israel wasn't enough for me to make meaningful progress - English is everywhere. I chose to come to Middlebury because I knew that the only way to succeed was to enter into complete language immersion. I knew that I needed a program that attracted others who were equally as excited about being surrounded by the Hebrew language as I was.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

I leave Middlebury feeling that so much more is within my grasp. I am proud and somewhat stunned at the progress I've made. For the first time in my life I feel like I am able to effectively communicate - even if slowly and imperfectly - in Hebrew. In 2 months at Middlebury, I learned more than I did living in Israel for 2 years. Most importantly, I now feel proficient enough and empowered enough to continue my learning on my own. I am able to communicate well enough that I can practice with friends and even strangers that I meet in my travels.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Hebrew?

My biggest advice to any incoming student would be to go into the program with as much intention as possible. The more you can tie up loose ends (work, family obligations, etc.) before arriving at Middlebury the more you will benefit from the experience. The process of full immersion really works and you will benefit if you give the process the benefit of any doubt. Don't be afraid to reach out to your teachers if you have particular needs or if you learn in a non-traditional way. And finally, take advantage of the activities. Community is really important in a place like Middlebury where you are pushing your comfort zone by taking the language pledge.