For language student Isabella Ko, the supportive community in our French immersion program was critical in enabling her to let go and find confidence speaking in language.
Even though I was really excited to fully immerse myself in all things français, I was still nervous to go to the Language Academy at first. Would I make friends? Making new friends can be hard, not to mention in a completely different language. And I wasn’t sure if the summer camp would just turn out to be too much like school.
Once I arrived, all my worries soon vanished. There was such an amazing sense of community within the Academy, as we helped each other out speaking in French. There was no point in feeling embarrassed, because all of us were learning at the same time. Even beginners, who initially knew nothingabout French, quickly started to hold conversations and gain confidence. It was incredible to see how friendship and relationships could transcend language barriers.
Mistakes were normal—and encouraged. In fact, making mistakes was the only way I could get better. Gradually, I stopped stuttering and struggling to find the words. I started using correct grammar with more ease and felt more confident knowing that I really was improving.
But there was more to it than just grammar and vocabulary. Each afternoon, we had culture classes, where we covered everything from deep, thought-provoking philosophical questions to art, theater, sports and music. I was exposed to so much good French music that I had never listened to before. I even learned the lyrics to Pharrell William’s “Happy” in French!
One of the most memorable moments from the Language Academy was the closing ceremony, where all of the students got to showcase dances and songs in different languages that they had learned over the course of the month. It was a beautiful moment of cultural celebration and unity—a great way to end the summer program.
To all of you incoming Language Academy students, here is my advice: Be bold. Be fearless. Speak the language as much as possible and fully participate in your classes. You aren’t the only one who is struggling to learn a language, so don’t feel embarrassed. Interact with everyone, because part of the experience is bonding with others. It’s summer, so let go and just have fun immersing yourself in a completely different world.
Intrigued? Start your application for the Academy’s summer language immersion program today.