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New language program comes to Mills

In summer 2009, Mills College will host the Middlebury College Language Program on its campus.

The program provides intensive summer classes for students nationwide 18 years or older in four different languages. The languages that will be taught at Mills include French, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic with a curriculum focus towards fluency and linguistic comprehension both in and outside the classroom.

It is the first time Middlebury, a liberal arts college, has expanded its program on the West Coast with other programs located internationally from Italy to the Middle East.

Jaime Northrop, a public representative for Middlebury visited the campus on Oct. 13.

She said the program chose Mills because, “It has such a beautiful landscape perfect for students; it also offers a lot of great cultural activities outside of campus.”

Central to the program is a fluency method called the “language pledge.” “Students are required to speak the language 24/7, they can’t speak English [even] in common areas since it would reflect negatively on the development [of the language],” explained Northrop.

Since 1915, the summer residential program has promoted accelerated language-learning skills that require a lot of commitment and passion for the chosen language from the students. Students will essentially be living on campus to experience this immersion of their studied languages with credits rewarded by Middlebury College.

In an Oct. 5 statement, Vice President for Operations Renee Jadushlever said Mills would be joining the Monterey Institute of International Studies program as being one of Middlebury’s new sites.

The new program comes as both an appreciation and surprise for some of the Mills College language faculty. Professor of Spanish and Spanish American Studies, Héctor Mario Cavallari, said, “Professionally, [Middlebury staff] are excellent. It is a great idea in that it may help bring consciousness of languages at Mills.”

The new program received a varied reaction from students who had not known about the program until it was publicized recently on the Mills website.

“I just logged onto the Mills website today and saw the program,” said Julia Middleton, a junior majoring in English who in the past year has taken French language courses. “My cousin actually got her masters at Middlebury in Spanish, and spent a year of the program in Spain, in Madrid, so I know it is a good program. She is a professor now.”

However, concerns over the timing of the program have also arisen.

“I’d rather go home this summer because it will be my first summer home for college,” freshwoman Dannan Baker said.

Emily Grantz, a senior Spanish major, was even more excited about the program’s opportunities. “I think it is excellent; I really want to learn Arabic. And I am irritated that Mills no longer offers Arabic during the school year.”

Jadushlever said, “Middlebury offers many more cultural programs with languages, arts, including a film festival in Italian. Gives people a chance to expand their cultural horizons. Middlebury program is even planning to offer cultural language programs throughout the school year to raise awareness on different opportunities.”

Applications are currently available on the program website, with tuition costs ranging from $6,000 to $10,000.

When asked about her interest in the program, Amanda Bailey, a junior art history major who also took Spanish languages courses in the past, said tuition would be her biggest worry. “I would be more interested in the program if it didn’t cost so much.”

Financial assistance is available based on both need and specific language merit.

For example, according to the Middlebury website, the program offers Kathryn Davis Fellowships for Peace aiding students in the study of critical languages with a demonstrated interest in international studies and/or conflict resolution. Work-study opportunities will also be available with over 65 to 100 staff openings at Mills. Next year, three full-time Middlebury staff will be hired to work with Housing Management and Dining Services to help further organize the program.

Summer courses will occur in three separate week intervals. French, Italian and Spanish programs will be taught for seven weeks, undergraduate courses in Arabic for nine weeks, and non-degree graduate courses in Arabic for six weeks. Admission is rolling through May with courses beginning in early June.

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