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Monsieur Sainsily: Qui est-il?

“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”Aristotle

Here at St. Michael’s, this philosophy stands strong. The blending of personalities of teachers from all over the country allows for a committed, intellectual, and captivating staff—all of whom have an unwavering passion for foreign languages and cultures.

Today, the Director of the French Academy—David Sainsily—sat down for an interview, in which he answered questions on his educational and personal background, and, also, on his role outside of the Academy.

Meet the Chinese Language Director: Tong Chen

“If a thing’s worth doing, it is worth doing well.”—Chinese Proverb

Tong Chen, the Director of the Chinese Academy, embodies this philosophy to the fullest extent possible.

Tong Chen was born in Fujian, China, where she spent the entirety of her childhood. Later on, she attended Xiameng University, which is also located in Fujian, China. While there, she studied economics and linguistics, concentrating predominantly in English language and literature studies.

Connecting Communities with Place-Based Language Education


That is a really wonderful reason to teach a language; you are preserving heritage and a connection to the past; it connects our second, third, fourth generation descendants of French Canadians to their current families and their own heritage” (M. Baughman, 2014).

The human language is a complex system that heavily relies on social conventions and culture. Place-based education is increasingly important, as illustrated below through an example of how language is bringing together generations of families in a neighborhood community.

Improving Language Acquistion & Learning via Music

To many people across the globe, music is an important part of everyday life. Whether Flamenco in Sevilla, opera in Milan, techno in Munich or American pop in Los Angeles, music brings people together and helps define unique cultures.

Leveraging Language to Implement Common Core Standards

My “field” of inquiry is Weybridge Elementary School, a small rural K-6 school in Vermont located near the town of Middlebury. Five years ago we began a K-6 Spanish program. Two years ago we selected Middlebury Interactive Language’s online world language programs to supplement classroom instruction. Our goal is for all of our students to have access to top world language education and learn world languages at a formative age.

Why the Vermont World Language Initiative Matters

In 2013, Middlebury Interactive Languages joined forces with Middlebury College to create the Vermont World Language Initiative, which provides 29 Vermont schools with access to MIL courses and free professional development, subsidized by Middlebury College, for teachers. Both Middlebury Interactive Languages and Middlebury College saw the Initiative as a great chance to expand world language education to more Vermont students.

Coding v. Foreign Languages: Do We Really Have to Choose?

The Coding v. Foreign Language Debate
Earlier this year, a surprising debate ignited among educators and techies on the relative merits of studying a world language versus learning to code. This debate went mainstream when Kentucky became the latest state to consider allowing students to receive foreign language credits for computer programing coursework. This debate struck a chord in me because learning to code and studying world languages in my formative years have equipped me with the diverse and valuable life skills that have defined my career.

The Journey to Becoming Multilingual: Why Stop at Learning Just One World Language?

Having grown up in a strictly Spanish-speaking household, learned French in high school and now Arabic in college, I believe I have come to know a thing or two about the challenges and benefits to learning multiple languages. The advantage of studying French as a bilingual speaker of Spanish and English was substantial, but nothing compared to learning Arabic during college. Here is the story of how I managed to become multilingual.

Continuing Language Learning Through Course Building

Whether you want to speak to a long lost German relative, or finally be able to pronounce the names of your favorite German soccer stars (including but not limited to Bayern München), the inspiration for learning a new language is always worthwhile. As a course builder at Middlebury Interactive Languages, I have had the distinct pleasure to witness firsthand the transition of many people, from tepid speaker to near fluency. Each course, lesson and even activity that I build has been meticulously selected utilizing Middlebury’s pedagogical approach down to the very last Umlaut.

Three World Language Myths Debunked

As the Dean of Students in the Upper School at Carolina Day School in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the joys of my job is that I am exposed to a world of fascinating, new excuses on a daily basis.  
“Of course I was on time this morning!”
“I thought this was ok for the dress code!”
"I didn’t think the teacher would mind that I was snap-chatting in class!”

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