For the first time in two years, the University Language Summer Institute will take place entirely in person. It will run from June 21 to August 12 and offers intensive eight-week courses in seven languages: Spanish, Latin, German, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.
Costs range from $5,076 for the no-credit option to $18,624 for an out-of-state undergraduate. Apps for the 2022 summer program – which require a transcript and letter of recommendation – are open to anyone who is in junior high school or higher.
Caren Freeman, coordinator of the Summer Language Institute, called the program a “hidden gem” at the University. For undergraduate students, participation in the Summer Institute of Languages can satisfy all four semesters of a foreign language obligatory by the College and many participants also use the program to prepare for study abroad, to become better equipped for their jobs, or to better perform graduate research.
Third-year College student Michael Silek initially chose to attend the Russian SLI course during the summer of 2020 as it opened up more room in his schedule for other courses. After having had a very positive experience and learned a lot, Silek is now a student in Russia.
“[The program] was extremely immersive and intensive, and I felt like I learned a lot in a very short time,” Silek said.
The Latin, German, French, Spanish, and Russian programs cover the equivalent of four weeks of college-level language courses, complementing intermediate-level courses. Both Arabic and Chinese are offered in two eight-week programs – one to complete the first two semesters of college-level coursework and the other to complete the second two semesters.
Caitlyn Beckham, a second-year college student, took the SLI Chinese course in the summer of 2021 after feeling that she had not acquired a strong enough foundation in introductory Chinese at university.
“Honestly, I haven’t been particularly good at picking up the foundations, the really basic stuff that you need to know if you want to go further,” Beckham said.
For the past two summers, the program has operated virtually, a format that Freeman says has again proven effective for language learning.
“The study of foreign languages in particular has really benefited from the online modality, in fact, so much so that our Chinese program is experimenting for the first time every day of the week with the possibility of coming in person or staying online. “, Freeman said.
Beckham participated in SLI when classes were virtual and said the professor’s use of breakout rooms to facilitate more personal practice was very beneficial.
“Because we had tutors working with our class who were native speakers and we continued to meet the tutors during and after class, so I think that was a really good way [aspect] it was worked in the zoom,” Beckham said.
Although Silek also participated in the program virtually, he still feels that the professors and teaching assistants worked very hard to provide a complete experience.
“[The class] really put us in touch with what it means to learn a language in several different aspects and class participation, especially during the speaking part, was always very much encouraged,” Silek said.
Freeman explained that the Summer Language Institute organizes three events over the eight weeks to bring together students from different classes and share what they have learned.
“Students always express an interest in getting to know students in other languages, so there’s also a feeling that runs through the Institute of Languages that we’re part of something bigger than just our language,” said Freeman.
The average class size is 10 students, which further allows for tight-knit communities to form between faculty and students.
“There are a small number of students and faculty team members who spend long hours every day together, and very deep bonds are formed,” Freeman said.
Beckham said it can be difficult to balance multiple classes at once, especially because learning a foreign language takes so much time. The SLI allowed him to devote the necessary time to mastering the basics of Chinese.
“[Since] it’s the only thing you study and you do it every day, it makes it a lot easier to get the basics,” Beckham said.
Each class requires six to seven hours of classroom instruction five days a week in order to fully immerse students in the language. Housing on the land is available for anyone who is not a high school student.
“It’s a very compressed, intensive, demanding program [program] but hugely rewarding,” Freeman said. “In my opinion, [it’s] probably the most effective way to get the basics of a new language under your belt.