Middlebury Language Schools - A Comprehensive Overview

May 4th, 2023 - Vera

For over 100 years, Middlebury Language Schools has been a premier institution for intensive language learning. The Language Schools offer a unique and immersive approach to language study, with programs in eleven languages that allow students to achieve rapid fluency through total immersion in language and culture.

In this article, we will explore the history of Middlebury Language Schools, the programs offered, the unique learning experience it provides, and the benefits of attending the Language Schools.

History of Middlebury Language Schools

Middlebury Language Schools was founded in 1915 by Lilian Stroebe, a German language teacher who was concerned about the decline of foreign language study in the United States. She began offering summer language courses in Middlebury, Vermont, with the aim of promoting language learning and intercultural understanding.

Over the years, the Language Schools expanded to include more languages and programs, and in 1955, the Language Pledge® was introduced. The Language Pledge® is a commitment made by students to speak only in the target language while attending the program, creating a total immersion experience that accelerates language learning.

Today, the Language Schools are part of Middlebury College, a private liberal arts college in Vermont. Middlebury College is renowned for its language programs and is considered one of the top colleges in the United States for language study.

Programs Offered

Middlebury Language Schools offer summer language immersion programs in eleven languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Each program is designed for students at different levels of proficiency, from beginner to advanced.

The programs are intensive and immersive, with students typically attending classes six days a week for six to eight weeks. In addition to language classes, students participate in cultural activities, such as film screenings, lectures, and excursions, to deepen their understanding of the language and culture.

The Language Pledge® is a central component of each program, creating an environment in which students are encouraged to use the language they are studying as much as possible. This helps students to develop their language skills quickly and effectively.

Unique Learning Experience

The Middlebury Language Schools provide a unique and immersive learning experience that is unmatched by other language programs. The Language Pledge® creates a supportive environment in which students are encouraged to take risks and make mistakes without fear of judgment or correction. This allows students to focus on communication rather than accuracy and builds their confidence in using the language.

The programs are also designed to be culturally immersive, with students learning not just the language but also the customs, traditions, and history of the country where the language is spoken. Cultural activities are a central part of the program, giving students the opportunity to interact with native speakers and experience the language in real-life situations.

Benefits of Attending Middlebury Language Schools

Attending Middlebury Language Schools offers many benefits to students, including:

  1. Rapid language acquisition: The immersive and intensive nature of the program accelerates language learning and allows students to achieve fluency in a relatively short period of time.

  2. Cultural immersion: The programs provide a unique opportunity for students to learn not just the language but also the culture, customs, and traditions of the country where the language is spoken.

  3. Confidence-building: The Language Pledge® creates a supportive environment in which students are encouraged to take risks and make mistakes, building their confidence in using the language.

  4. Networking: The Language Schools attract students from around the world, providing an opportunity to build a network of international contacts and friendships.

  5. Career opportunities: Fluency in a foreign language is an asset in many fields, and attending Middlebury Language Schools can provide a competitive advantage in the job market.


In conclusion, Middlebury Language Schools offer an excellent opportunity for language learners to immerse themselves in their target language and culture. With a wide variety of languages offered, a rigorous curriculum, experienced faculty, and a supportive community, students can make significant progress in their language proficiency over the summer. The Language Pledge, a core component of the Middlebury approach, fosters a commitment to using the target language exclusively and creates an immersive environment that accelerates language learning. Additionally, the opportunity to participate in cultural activities, events, and excursions provides a unique and enriching experience that goes beyond just language acquisition.

Middlebury Language Schools have a long and distinguished history in language education, and their approach continues to be a model for language immersion programs worldwide. While the summer program is their flagship program, they also offer programs during the academic year, including graduate programs in some languages. The Language Schools’ commitment to promoting cross-cultural understanding and language proficiency aligns with the values of a globalized world, and their graduates go on to make significant contributions in fields ranging from academia to government to business.

Overall, Middlebury Language Schools provide an unparalleled opportunity for language learners to improve their proficiency in a supportive and immersive environment. Whether you are a student, a professional, or a lifelong learner, Middlebury Language Schools offer a transformative experience that can open doors to new opportunities and perspectives.

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