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College to grow language program

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA) is looking to expand again in the summer of 2011 by adding an additional five sites to the three satellite schools already in put in place this past year.
Middlebury-sponsored language schools for pre-college students in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and German are currently operated at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., for four weeks in the summer. The addition of the five new sites is just a piece of MMLA’s long-term plan to continue growth of the program.
“Yes, it is true, we are looking to expand,” Jamie Northrup, senior director of Marketing for Middlebury Interactive Languages said.
According to Northrup, the success of the summer 2010 session has contributed to the plans for the additional sites, but that MMLA has always planned to build up the program each year. Northrup said that MMLA originally began with a partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Mass. MMLA provided CTY with the curriculum and support, but the program was primarily run by CTY.
In 2010, however, MMLA opened up three of its own satellite locations at Pomona, Oberlin, and Green Mountain colleges. Taryn Tilton is a senior at Middlebury College who worked as a Residential Assistant at the Green Mountain site this past summer. She compared her experience working with the Chinese program there with her own experience at the Middlebury Chinese Language School the previous summer.
“The major difference was that the kids were still very much kids,” Tilton said. “A lot of my job involved policing them. They’re not paying—their parents are. So that makes it that much harder to keep them to the pledge.”
Despite the age difference between the students at Middlebury Language schools and the Middlebury-Monterey immersion programs, and although the program took place roughly 51 minutes south of the original campus, Tilton said that the program still “had the spirit of Middlebury.”
“There was this global night, a global showcase event where each of the schools put on a performance for one another,” she said. “It was really cool to see everyone dressed up and sharing what they had done all summer with the rest of us.”
Recent graduate Nathan Williams experienced Middlebury, Midwest-style.
“I expected MMLA to promote the Middlebury name more visibly, for some kind of marketing explosion to take place, so that you had the impression that you were at Middlebury College and in Ohio at the same time,” Williams said. “The truth is, there were no banners or parades celebrating Middlebury’s arrival to the Midwest. When I arrived at Oberlin, the Safety and Security Officer I spoke with had never even heard of MMLA. This was the week before the program started! As a Midwesterner myself, I think Middlebury College is unfamiliar to most people out here.”
The MMLA program, according to Williams, who worked as a Residential Assistant for the French program at Oberlin, does not attempt to transform its satellite sites into little Middleburys, but rather, tries to embrace the individuality of each particular campus.
“It’s definitely tempting to compare the expansion of Middlebury’s reach in language instruction to empire-building,” Williams said. “But based on my experience at MMLA’s newest site at Oberlin College, the Middlebury presence at these programs is far from invasive.”
MMLA will continue to hold a presence in Ohio, as well as in California and in Vermont. Northrup said that MMLA plans to add a sister site to each of their three existing sites, not including the CYT program.
According to Northrup, the sister sites will be nearby the original sites, or within that general region, but not directly next door.
In addition to the three original sites and the three new sister sites, Northrup said that MMLA is also looking for a Southern site, as well as a Mid-Atlantic site. Because MMLA is currently in the process of negotiating contracts with the possible new locations, Northrup declined revealing at this time which sites they are considering.
Reporter Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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