Swarthmore Blog

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  • Wrapping Up MMLA 2014

    Only one full day of MMLA remains! It’s hard to believe that everything is finally coming to an end. Although the days may be winding down, energy levels remain high as everyone anticipates graduation, the final dance and the ultimate lifting of the Language Pledge.

    Today’s theme was “working as a volunteer,” so the morning assembly featured a skit which took place in a soup kitchen. Both servers and less fortunate spoke about the reasons why they involved themselves with the kitchen: either to give back to the community or to take advantage of a much-needed service.

    Later, since we were facing thunderstorms, we moved all of the students to Upper Tarble for study hour and evening assembly. Although the rain dampened the ground, it did not dampen our spirits—the classes put together creative, funny presentations including a Romeo and Juliet parody (in which Romeo and Juliet were from different academies), goodbye poem to MMLA. Then, we all watched a slideshow featuring photos from the program.

    We have some exciting events planned for our last day, including a graduation ceremony and final dance. It’s already clear that students and staff alike will have fond memories to take home from MMLA. I wish everyone all the best in the academic year to come!   

    -Julia Campbell, RA

  • Departure Day for the Spanish Academy

    Well, departure day is finally upon us at the Spanish Academy. Students are packing and cleaning furiously, but yet still very excited about graduation, the lifting of the Language Pledge® and the final inter-academy dance celebration. On Thursday morning, students begin their departures with three shuttles leaving for the airport as early as 7:30 A.M. For those students not headed to the airport bright and early, they most likely will spend their final minutes saying goodbye to their teachers, friends and R.As before starting their trips home. Academy staff will be standing by to help direct parents and aid with parking. Departure should come to a close around 12 P.M. It will definitely be hard to see the students go but hopefully they will be back again next year!

    -Tim Pillsbury

  • World Expo Night!

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  • Chinese Academy Students Take a Well Deserved Break

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    It’s sad to say, but this post will be the last Monday blog from the 2014 MMLA at Swarthmore! 

    During the past three weeks, Academy students have done an amazing job staying in their target language. Now, it’s time to see how their efforts have paid off. This morning, each student had an oral assessment with their Chinese teachers. It was incredible to see just how much students have improved from their first day at the Language Academy.

    After the assessment, students were able to relax a little bit in cultural exploration class as well as afternoon activities. Sun Bo laoshi taught students how to make “酸辣土豆丝” (stir-fried sour and spicy potato). 

    During the afternoon activities, students in my group enjoyed cloud-watching. We sat on comfy white chairs on the lawn, sharing our stories, drawing and appreciating the nice weather. It was a lovely and breezy afternoon.

    -Yachu Liu, Residential Advisor

  • Sneak Peak: Academy French Performance!

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    The French Academy is in for a treat tonight! They will have a special guest, Élie Gagné, who will perform his popular Québec hits!  We were able to go inside and get a sneak peek exclusive just for you all! Enjoy!

    More photos to come…

    -Delandris, Office Manager

  • Recommitment to Language…And Pizza!

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    Today was a big day for all of the students at the Chinese Academy, as they had to go through some evaluative testing today. To balance the testing, RAs took their students into town for something other than cafeteria food. The most popular dish? It was none other than pizza! At least one person in each group had a slice of pizza in hand. Our living group did the same and afterwards we decided to go watch a Chinese drama called “Meteor Shower” in our assembly room. 

    That night, a few students presented their projects to the rest of the class. The project theme for the night was cinema. Some students reinterpreted popular American films in short videos that were presented to the class, whereas others played a game where the rest of the class has to guess what movie they’re talking about. At the end of every Sunday assembly, students, RAs and teachers alike recommit to the Language Pledge®. Tonight’s recommitment ceremony was a little bit more special considering it was the last of the program. The end is within sight. Everyone 加油!

    -Sikun Zhang, Residential Advisor

  • Lights. Camera. Improv!

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    The French Academy today had a very full schedule! Students started off the day by practicing for the World Expo where they will show off our French dance to the other academies. Everyone can’t stop humming along to our new favorite song On est. During activity time our students made friendship bracelets, cooled off in the pool and went into town to enjoy some downtime after a full morning of classes. In the evening, we were lucky to have a French improv expert come and teach a seminar to us! Everyone spent the hour laughing (especially when the professors did an improv routine together). It was a fun-filled evening and we can’t wait to use our improv skills in the future! 

    -Maggie Liston, French RA

  • A Big Day for the Chinese Academy!

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    What a day! In the morning, the entire Chinese Academy boarded buses and took off for Chinatown in nearby Philadelphia. First, everyone enjoyed authentic Chinese cuisine at an authentic Szechuan (Sichuan) restaurant, yum! After filling up on all kinds of meats, noodles, tofu, vegetables, and more, we had some time for shopping and exploring in the local stores. Back at campus, everyone was busy enjoying the beautiful weather and preparing for that night’s big event: a Chinese Academy talent show! Some of the many acts included singing, dancing, violin playing, piano playing, and more! These impressive performances were followed by some Chinese karaoke, snacks, and there were even some silly wigs involved as well. Lots of photos were taken today, so make sure to click through them all!

    -Becca Levy, Chinese RA

  • Quelle Soirée! (What a Night!)

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    Tonight all of our hard work and practice leading up to the World Expo paid off. The World Expo is a night for each academy to present artwork, dances, songs, videos and other cultural and academic projects to the faculty and students of the other academies. The assembly room was a lovely sea of blue, red and orange with students from all academies present. At the French academy, we began chanting our specific language cheers, thus inspiring other academies to perform their cheers as well while everyone waited for the World Expo to get underway. Not desiring to undermine the communal aspect of the event; however, or to put too much of an emphasis on any competition, we also cheered just as loudly for the Spanish and Chinese Academies. 

    Earlier in the evening we gathered in front of the dorm to practice our group dance (choreographed by students and counselors to the song on est là) one last time, so when the time came to present it live everyone was ready. We had a wonderful opening to our portion of the show, which continued with advertisements in language created by one class, a music video from another, a performance of the classic song Aux Champs Elysées and more. Everyone had an amazing time both performing and reveling in the songs, dances and other presentations of the Chinese and Spanish academies.

    After the World Expo, there were tasty treats from all three academies, and an impromptu dance party back in the assembly room where students taught various target language dance routines and academy favorites to students (and staff members) from other language academies. We returned to the dorm, tired but jubilant and ready for an active and exciting weekend. À la prochaine fois (until next time)!

    - Hannah/Cécile, French RA

  • ¡Multitud Instantánea! (Flash mob!)

    The Spanish Academy’s Cultural Exploration class on Improvisational Theater surprised the rest of MMLA with a Flash Mob rendition of Shakira’s “La La La” at dinner Thursday night.

  • Only 150 Hours Left!

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    1:00 PM marked a special time at the Academy as there are only 150 hours until the Language Pledge® is officially lifted. Our students will graduate from MMLA and finally be able to recount on their new language skills and friendships that have been forged over the past few weeks. We’re almost done, but we’re going to make each one of our 150 remaining hours count!

    -Nick Anderson, Program Assistant

  • Mariachis Visit Swarthmore

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    The Spanish Academy recently had the pleasure of welcoming a Mariachi band for a very wonderful evening performance. Students truly enjoyed being introduced to this exciting style of music as some could be heard singing along with songs and a few were actually selected to dance with the band as well! All in all it was a great evening and everyone in attendance definitely left the performance with a smile on their face.

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • ¿Qué Te Pasa, Calabaza?

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    Tuesday began with laughter and energy, as some of our boys presented a sketch of comical social interactions. These included finding a seat in the dining hall, secret handshakes and overbearing greetings. The crowd favorite, however, was definitely “how (not) to talk to a girl”.

    As always, the students came back from their classes ready to socialize and have some fun.  Some students chose to go to the pool to cool off, while others learned to dance the Chachachá and practice for our upcoming expo. A few students also made friendship bracelets, an activity that has become a crowd favorite. By far, however, the most popular activity was watching the semifinals of the World Cup in language. It was not exactly a stressful game to watch, as we quickly found out who was going to win early on in the match. The students and staff will remember Germany’s historic 7-1 victory, as the game broke seven World Cup records, including the biggest win in a semifinal.

    Fortunately, even the students cheering for Brazil walked away with their heads held high (or ran in some cases) because the close of the activity time meant that it was time to use their cell phones, something they had looked forward to since Saturday.  It’s simply amazing how much conversation, music, Facebook,  homework for their school and more is able to occur during just 45 minutes.

    After dinner and study hour, students filed into the science center for evening assembly. Our level one class presented a skit about healthy living, and we watched videos from other classes about living in foreign countries, survival here at MMLA and more. Unfortunately, however, our assembly got cut short due to a storm. Some students were sad, while others were excited not to have to present. Regardless, we quickly and safely made our way back to our dorm, Mertz, in an effort be indoors when the storm came through. The RAs were worried about anxious students, but surprisingly the students just enjoyed the extra free time. Mertz has never been more alive with the painting of finger nails, music, cards, bananagrams and more. Many of our boys also took the opportunity to review highlights from the Brazil v. Germany match, while the girls decided to finish their friendship bracelets or start new ones. They even had some of the boys making them!

    It’s hard to believe that we have just a week left, and yet I can’t help but wonder at all the progress these students are making, and how much they’ve yet to experience over the coming week. 

    -Benjamín Bradshaw, Spanish Academy RA

  • The Chinese Academy Is Ready for the World Expo!!!

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    Today, the Chinese Academy worked hard to prepare for the World Expo. In the morning assembly, Hsieh Laoshi led students in a song called “帶你回來 (dai ni hui lai),” which literally means ‘bring you back’. In the afternoon, students rehearsed their dances, skits and Kung Fu performances. During the evening assembly, students applied what they learned in today’s class by preparing and performing short skits. The theme of the day was clothing, and the students were very creative. They imitated their teachers and some celebrities in their skits. The night ended with a very special celebration as we honored a student’s birthday and even sang Happy Birthday in Chinese!

    The Chinese Academy cannot wait to show other Swarthmore language academies what they have learned in the past few weeks. Please take a sneak peek at the clip below of some of the students practicing the dance for the World Expo! Enjoy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R09GR9bjzuk

    -Yachu Liu, Residential Advisor

  • Pardonnez-Moi! Learning French Social Conventions

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    The French Academy beat the heat again with almost half of the students spending their activity period at the pool for a well-deserved dip after a long day of classes. The theme of the day began at morning assembly where students debated the importance of using vous  instead of tu when addressing a police officer. Conversations did not stop there though as the cafeteria buzzed with discussion on the topic of the day, social do’s and don’ ts. Students were especially careful to accompany each burp and belch with a pardon. Between debating the importance of bringing a thank-gift to a host and introducing new friends to old friends, students began preparation for the upcoming World Expo! On est the all academy song of 2014 has become a popular hit not only with students, but with teachers and RAs as well. Kids dove into choreographing, memorizing lyrics and learning the song on the piano and ukulele for the much-anticipated event.  

    -Tess Lagor, RA French Academy

     

  • Dance, Dance and more Dancing: Prepping for the World Expo

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    Cultural exploration classes are meant to broaden students’ perspectives on a certain culture, and for today, students learned about the two different sides to China’s current culture. In Ding Laoshi’s class today, students decorated paper lanterns with calligraphy. An ancient practice of sending wishes to the heaven’s, students got the opportunity to personalize their lanterns with characters that represent them, such as their names, their zodiac animals, words that represent them and their own wishes. In another cultural exploration class, students learned the choreography to a popular Taiwanese song. An interesting mix of techno and dubstep, 射手 (‘marksman’) is a catchy song with a great beat. The choreography was hard, but both students and a few RAs worked together to break down the choreography piece by piece.

    After classes, the students were treated to a traditional Chinese dance performance. We saw a variation of the fan dance, along with the peacock dance. After the performance, the performers brought all of us together to learn the basics of using ribbon in dance. NOTE: it’s harder than it looks!

    Every evening, students work together in small groups to perform a skit based on the lesson they learned today, but our skits had to be cut short due to a thunderstorm. Even with a storm outside, students were positive and enjoying themselves. Our living group even had a little food party in our hall. 

    -Sikun Zhang, Residential Advisor

  • Learning Spanish in Style!

    Time at the Language Academy is flying- it is hard to believe we’re already entering our third week! Students who were hesitant at the beginning of the program are now speaking with much greater fluency.

    Today’s theme was shopping and fashion, so we began morning assembly with a fashion show in which students were asked questions about their personal styles. Everyone was dressed muy de moda (very fashionably!) During activity time, students had a new option entitled regresa al niñez (return to childhood). This activity included watching classic Spanish cartoons, coloring elements of Spanish culture such as a bull and matador and the opportunity to play schoolyard games.

    Later, in evening assembly, one class created masks to celebrate Spain’s Saint Fermin’s day. Other students presented information on the food pyramid, the history of Bolivia, original poems about celebrities and cartoon characters and much more!

    The rest of this week promises to be both exciting and educational. On Wednesday, a mariachi group is coming to campus to perform, and Friday night is the World Expo: our opportunity to show the French and Chinese Academies all that we’ve learned as well as learn from them.

    -Julia Campbell, RA 

  • Très Chic

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    After a busy (and victorious!) weekend, the French Academy settled back into its daily routine and kicked off the week with the help of an impromptu fashion show, a wide variety of presentations and a recommitment to the Language Pledge®.

    This morning’s assembly started off with a slideshow of the fabulous tableaux vivants (live pictures) that the students created this past Saturday; it was a great opportunity to revisit our favorite imitations of La liberté guidant le peuple. After morning assembly, since the theme of the day was clothing and attire, we created our own five minute version of a popular show: Project Runway: MMLA. The students were divided into seven groups and each group was given a trash bag, some colored paper, a pair of scissors, some tape, some string, a few paper clips and some post-its. From this motley assortment of office supplies, students created outfits that each of them would model at the end of the five minutes. The results were delightful, stylish and creative. Don’t tell anyone, but we may have found the next Coco Chanel.

    In our afternoon activities, students began the process of editing and polishing the footage they had filmed over the weekend, as part of our ongoing Festival de Cannes project. We’re all looking forward to seeing the end results! Finally, this evening we all put on our spiffiest outfits (a level of attire we like to call chic et modern) for the evening assembly as students recommitted to the Language Pledge® helping to get us ready for another week of Français and fun.  

    -Hannah/Cécile, French RA

  • The Chinese Academy Is Still Going Strong!

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    As we kicked off the third week of the Academy, students’ classes focused on how to express more complex self-introductions, and how to talk about their families and hometowns. Today’s afternoon activities included a photography challenge, frisbee golf, pool games and my personal favorite, a yoga class all in Chinese (which I got to lead!)! The day ended with a recommitment ceremony (delayed one day because of yesterday’s Field Day), with some awards given out as well! Here’s to another week of Language Pledge® commitment!

    -Becca Levy, Chinese RA

  • A Recommitment to Language and to Excellence

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    Tonight, the students were asked once more to reflect on their purpose here at MMLA and to recommit to the Language Pledge®. Dressed in their best, each of the Green Mountain College academies gathered to sign the Language Pledge® once more to renew their resolve, vowing to speak nothing but the target language until the end of the program. The trick to the Language Pledge® is that it turns even tongue-tied moments of doubt into more chances to build linguistic muscle, since students have to come up with creative alternatives to find the words they don’t know.

    -Nick Anderson, Program Assistant

  • ALLEZ LES FRANÇAIS!!! CHAMPIONS DU MONDE!!!

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    The French Academy emerged victorious from this years Field Day Games!!!! ALLEZ LES FRANÇAIS!!! Although we are only 45 people strong (the smallest academy of the three) we kept the lead in the Olympics the entire day!!! We started in the morning by making posters and painting our faces with French flags and blue face paint (our team spirit was incredible) as our fanatiques led cheers for everyone to practice. In the activities, our team dominated the pool, field events, talent show and cheering competitions. The enthusiasm level was through the roof for our athletes in every competition. We even showed off our new dance the Logobitombo for the other academies, which was a hit that caught on with the other academies during the closing ceremonies. We ended the night with RA Zoe announcing the results and the presentation of the trophy to our Director, Etienne. The French Academy celebrated for the rest of the night, proud of our success and for all the fun we had in the games. 

    -Maggie Liston, French RA

  • Groovin’ to the Music: Francés Wins Field Day!

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    It was such a great experience to be a part of the Field Day that one post just didn’t cut it. As I watched from the sidelines, I could feel the energy and enthusiasm as each academy stepped up to show off their dance routines that they have been practicing in anticipation for these events. Every student proudly wore a smile and all the staff here could not help but appreciate and acknowledge all of the hard work and effort that went into, not only the planning of the Field Day events, but the fun everyone was having as well.  It was truly a great feeling to be a part of this Summer’s Field Day games here at MMLA Swarthmore!  Here’s a special shout out to the French Academy for taking 1st place, félicitations!

    Short clip shot by one of our Spanish teachers:

    Until next time,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Chinese Acdemy

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    Today we had our annual field day.  This included soccer, frisbee, tug-of-war, synchronized swimming, various races, and lots of dancing.  The day started with all three academies meeting for an opening ceremony.  Here, all three academies were given time to show off chants and dances they have learned over the past two weeks.  The Chinese academy without question had the most energy and the best dances.  After the opening ceremony, we transitioned to soccer, frisbee, and many other field activities.  The field activities included many races and events that energized the students .  The highlight was probably the water bucket race where each team was given a full bucket of water, a sponge, and an empty bucket. The goal was to see which team could move all of the water the fastest from one bucket into the other one using the sponge.  We won this event.  After a break for lunch, we moved to the pool events.  The synchronized swim dance routine was performed to the song 带你回来.  This song was written with help of our dorm head, Terry.  (Here’s the youtube link if you would like to listen: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_h8uDHM2mU)  The day ended with tug-of-war in which case the Chinese academy was victorious over both the French and the Spanish academies.  All in all, we had another awesome day here at Swarthmore.

     

  • Competition and Fun at Field Day

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    Today we had an amazing experience at the 2014 MMLA Swarthmore Field Day. It was a full day of fun, games and team spirit. We had amazing weather this year: warm, dry and sunny.  We stated in the morning with our “prep rally” – a time to prepare, practice chants, apply our facepaint and get excited for the day.  From there we went into the first round of soccer, ultimate frisbee and field games such as the three legged race, chopstick relay and the sponge race. After lunch Field Day continued with pool games and races and intellectual challenges like chess, a talent show and sudoku. After a break in the afternoon for call-home time and cultural exploration classes, we finished up with some dinner and a final round of soccer, ultimate frisbee and a culminating game of tug-of-war.
    In the end everyone had lots of fun and students showed incredible team spirit and participation. With the students now comfortable both with one another and with the language they much more easily express themselves. All are happy, exhausted and in dire need of a shower and a cool bed to prepare for the day tomorrow.

    -Tim Pillsbury, Spanish Dorm Head

  • Field Day Opening Ceremony

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    Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for – FIELD DAY! As the academies were preparing for today’s events, you could hear the roaring cheers all around the campus.  It was truly a remarkable experience! 

    As the language learners made their way to the beautiful amphitheater to kick off the Field Day, they entered chanting glorious cheers and dancing to songs that excited all those watching. The sheer enthusiasm for the Field Day has made this opening ceremony one to remember.

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Another Fun-filled Saturday!

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    The Chinese academy’s second Saturday was filled with fun events - all in target language, of course! In the morning, students attended Cultural Exploration classes as usual, followed by several outdoor all-academy activities, including ice cream making (好吃! - delicious!), and a charades activity in which students re-enacted a traditional Chinese dragon, the Great Wall, and more. After dinner, the whole academy joined together once again for an outdoor beach party, where everyone enjoyed music, watermelon, inflatable swimming pools, beach ball games, and even a slip ‘n slide! After that, we had an all-academy game of capture-the-flag, and to top it all off, fresh s’mores by the fire on one of the coolest and clearest nights of the summer so far. Off to bed to rest up for tomorrow’s Field Day! Let’s go Chinese!

  • Cool and Relaxed in the Spanish Academy

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    The Spanish Academy had a relaxed day today. After a leisurely wake up the students went off to their last cultural exploration class of the week from 9:30 to 11:00am. Students then spent time cleaning their rooms, playing cards and board games and enjoying a beautiful, cool, sunny day. Some groups watched world cup soccer on a Spanish feed, others made friendship bracelets, played Frisbee golf, or listened to a fascinating interactive talk about how Arabic had influenced the Spanish Language. This evening the academy made Sopapillas, a fried, sweet tortilla and non-alcoholic Sangria before watching “Casi Casi”. We returned to a calm, cool dorm to get a good night’s sleep before the Field Day events tomorrow. 

    -Tim Pillsbury, Spanish Dorm Head

  • El cuatro de Julio

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    After enduring heat and thunderstorms for a few days, the weather finally cleared up for a beautiful cool day on the 4th of July here in Swarthmore. In the morning, we had a regular schedule of classes and activities. After normal classes, and our final day of cultural classes for the second week, students spent time exploring the town of Swarthmore, played frisbee and soccer, and went swimming. After eating a quick dinner, most of the Spanish academy loaded onto busses and travelled to a nearby high school for fireworks. As we waited for the sun to set, we spent the evening playing football, soccer, frisbee, and hanging out and eating snacks on the lawn.  Those who chose not to go see the fireworks got the chance to stay on campus in Swarthmore for a calm movie night instead. After a late night, we returned to the dorms and headed to bed to prepare for a fun weekend, including our inter-academy Olympic games this coming Sunday. Hasta pronto!

  • Cultural Exploration: Español

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    This morning I had the pleasure of connecting with three separate Cultural Exploration classes within the Spanish Academy. The first was a dance class located in Upper Tarble where I was able to catch some students in the midst of learning a new dance routine led by one of our very enthusiastic Spanish teachers. Other classes included activities designed to improve linguistic skills as well. I observed many students standing up in front of their classmates and presenting a dialogue of some sort which struck me as very important for the betterment of their own comfortability speaking the language and not only visual learning. It was great to see the students in the classroom environment as I seldom have the opportunity to get out of the office and observe, but when I do Im always surprised by the work ethic and motivation I see these kids putting into learning their language of choice!

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

     

  • Freedom Festivities

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    Happy 4th of July from everyone here at MMLA Swarthmore! It turned out to be a great day (with just the right conditions) for all of the students and staff to be able to venture to a local high school for a fantastic fireworks display. For many of us, it was a welcomed time of relaxation, and a time of just being able to lounge on a sloping hill surrounded by many smiling faces. All in all it was a great night to be had by all the students and staff involved, and hopefully just the beginning of the good times that are to come for the remainder of the camp!

    Until next time,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Happy Fourth of July!

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    Today students started their day with a years worth of cultural celebrations packed into

    half an hour, getting a glimpse of some cultural festivities that are celebrated in France 

    and French speaking countries, including a count down to the New Year, masks for 

    Fat Tuesday, a relaxing celebration of International Worker’s Day (May 1st), a quick look

    at the rapidly approaching Bastille Day, and more.

    After another jam packed day of classes and activities, it was finally time to celebrate the 

    holiday most worth mentioning, the Fourth of July! The heat wave was finally a thing of the 

    past and our Acadamie Francaise was left with some of the most beautiful weather we 

    could have asked for as we got on the bus to head to a nearby fireworks display, which 

    did not disappoint. After a marvelous show and breathtaking finale, we headed back to the 

    residence halls, with the students filled with joy from a wonderfully fun celebration, yet 

    ready for the comfort of sleep after another day of immersion, studying, and learning.

    -Nolan Powers, French Residential Advisor 

  • Celebrating the 4th of July - In Chinese!

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    After the storms of the past few days, we had surprisingly wonderful weather. In fact, it was a little bit on the chilly side!

     

    Today we had classes just as we do everyday, but the afternoon was filled with a lot of special activities. Today students learned how to make Kung Pao Chicken in the cooking cultural elective class. Later, there was a flag football game. Students also learned how to play Majiang. 

     

    In the evening, most of our academy went to Radnor to watch a firework show, while others stayed in to watch a movie. Time to get ready now for our pool party tomorrow and our field day on Sunday! 中文加油!

  • A Trip to China

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    The culinary and geographic themes continued as Ding LaoShi’s students worked on a similar project, offering directions and exploring food and its relationship to culture. These students took on the challenge of describing delicacies throughout all of China in all its diverse glory. They even tried their hand at filmmaking, creating films representing an American’s immersion in Chinese life, highlighting differences in tradition and culture.

    -Nick Anderson, Program Assistant

  • My Culture + French Culture = A love for French!

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    Monsieur Corey’s French class put a culinary spin on the idea, comparing the cuisine in France proper to that of other French-speaking countries. Students created posters and shared them with the class highlighting the similarities and differences between the foods from linguistically common but geographically diverse locations. This activity really helped to hit home the idea of differing cultural identities, maintaining a fun and cooperative atmosphere all the while!

    -Nick Anderson

  • Tapas anyone?

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    Señor Adams’ students were hard at work on an equally tasty task - creating maps for a delicious Tapas Tours. Tapas are an icon of Spanish culture: designed for groups, these unique meals consist of several appetizer-sized platters that allow for plenty of sharing as well as a wider variety of food in a single meal. Since Tapas are so group-oriented, they are a crucial part of Spanish social life. This peek into the culture of Spain wasn’t the only perk of the project - the students also had a chance to flaunt their new abilities to give directions and describe food!

    -Nick Anderson, Program Assistant

  • Chinese Puppets and Noodles

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    Chinese cuisine is widely different in all parts of China, with different variations of taste and flavor for common ingredients. For today’s cultural exploration class, Ni Laoshi’s class learned about Xi Hongshi Ji Dan Mian (Noodles with Tomatoes and Eggs) and Cold Noodles. After tasting the noodles, the students got cool popsicles to balance out the heat. That afternoon, students, RAs, and teachers alike saw a performance from puppeteer, Zhang Laoshi. Zhang Laoshi gave students an exquisite look at both Chinese and Western story telling with the use of puppets. 

    -Sikun Zhang, Chinese Residential Advisor

  • Heat, Thunderstorms and More Heat

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    The weather hasn’t been the greatest today, but that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to enjoy the Spanish immersion environment! At this morning’s assembly, students presented about dining in language. Although this topic was fairly broad, knowing how to say things that are part of daily life may suddenly become a bit more difficult; for example, how to order food, how to describe your food, or how to explain that you don’t like your food and might want to order something else. Needless to say, the students did a wonderful job and embraced the challenge with excitement.

    Afternoon activities were held mostly inside, including yoga, swimming, dance class, card games and most popular of all, salsa making! Due to slightly inclement weather, part of our evening plans had to be altered. Students had a bit more relaxing evening in the dorms, joined by teachers and RA’s to continue to support the language learning environment. We’re all looking forward to the weather calming down a bit, so we can start to have more activities outside!

    -Gabe Beckerman, Spanish Residential Advisor

  • Smooth Sailing at Swarthmore

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    It’s Thursday of the second week, and all’s well here at Swarthmore. The students are definitely getting more and more accustomed to MMLA life by the day. Working hard in class and playing hard during activities is really helping to solidify friendships and language ability alike.

    Today, the Chinese Academy enjoyed a special performance by Huahua Zhang, an  expert storyteller. Inspired by Jim Henson’s Muppets and Pablo Picasso’s Cubism, she used a diverse ensemble of elegant puppets to share some traditional Chinese tales and offer a feel for the flavor of Chinese theater. Her performance was interactive as well, teaching new words and encouraging responses from the audience.

    Thankfully, Zhang’s performance was inside, and the students were out of the heat. We at Swarthmore take safety in the face of high summer temperatures and humidity seriously. Water coolers are strategically placed throughout campus; students will never be too far from one. Also, intense, athletic activities outdoors have been replaced by low-impact indoor games. Finally, fans are whirring around the clock on each dorm hall to keep the cool air circulating.

    No matter how high the temperature may be, spirits are even higher here at Swarthmore! Stay tuned for more updates!

    -Nick Anderson, Program Assistant

  • ¡Feliz Miércoles!

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    Happy Wednesday! The morning assembly’s theme was “planning a trip” and students performed a skit meant to communicate the vocabulary associated with travel such as luggage, visa and different modes of travel. For the record, students passed up on traditional transportation systems and decided to travel by dragon instead. What can I say?They’re super creative!

     

    Our afternoon presented a new opportunity for our younger participants-they were able to explore our quaint town of Swarthmore. Students walked around town, relaxing and experiencing a new location in their target language. This meant they could use new vocabulary. For example, they used directions to describe how to get to certain stores and subconsciously used the conditional form to order food (“I would like some coffee, please”). The older students were offered the chance to go to the pool, attend a Zumba class or make decorations for their dorms. Our talented RA (or consejero in Spanish) Benjamín led the creative effort in the 3-D art of decorating. You can see a few of their creations below!

    At night, mother nature paid us a visit so our usual nightly assembly didn’t take place. While we waited for the storm to pass, students stayed busy in their classes. Some played games, watched cool clips or practiced conversation. In Christopher’s class, they were introduced to popular TV programming in Spain through various clips of “El Hormiguero”. El Hormiguero combines a traditional talk show format with variety bits, much like our own program of Ellen.

    Needless to say, it was an eventful day! :)

    -Sarah Awad-Farid, Spanish Residential Advisor

  • Bon Voyage! The French Academy Goes Traveling

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    As today’s theme was traveling, we started off the day in morning assembly with a guessing game involving various francophone countries and territories. The most difficult part for the students to figure out was certainly La Nouvelle Caledonie, despite its being the home of Etienne, our language director. The day ended with a similar activity as the evening assembly included a student-organized game in which spectators had to figure out what film was being discussed based on a number of hints. Another highlight of our evening assembly was the students’ performance of their own version of “Elle me dit,” a popular French song that we’ll probably all have running through our heads by the end of the week (if we don’t already). Despite the heat we’ve been managing to keep cool with the help of plenty of popsicles, time at the pool and indoor activities such as board game night and play-dough making. À bien tôt!

    -Hannah/Cécile, French RA

  • Say ‘Ni Hao’ to Our Synchronized Swim Team

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    On Wednesday, Swarthmore was a tad warmer than the days before (it was 95 degrees!). In our morning assembly, we made sure to remind kids to stay cool and hydrated, as well as always carry sunscreen. For that day’s afternoon activity, some kids suggested that we go to the pool to cool off. When we got there, there were friendly water fights, and even (more or less) “synchronized” swimming. Overall, Wednesday gave the students a great opportunity to relax without overheating.

    -Sikun Zhang, Chinese Residential Advisor

  • Big Moves: Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) at Swarthmore

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    In one of our afternoon activities, students learned  about Chinese Chess or xiangqi in today’s class with Xie Laoshi! From pao to bing to ma and ju, we learned how to hold our own against the best! Whether in China or beyond, this classic game is a past time that we’ll now all be able to enjoy!

    Additionally, it was a hot day, so students also got to hit the pool, play mahjong and prepare our “propaganda” for MMLA Field Day 2014! Students have already memorized our mantra for the summer– “多喝水” – drink more water!!! Much, much more to come!

    -Terry Hsieh, Chinese Dorm Head

     

  • Important Information for Swarthmore Academy 2014

    In case family members missed it previously, we are including important information on the Swarthmore Academy below. Please keep this for your records and reach out with any questions or concerns!

    SWARTHMORE ACADEMY PROGRAM ADDRESS
    MMLA Program- Student Name

    Language Academy
    Swarthmore College
    500 College Avenue
    Swarthmore, PA  19081

    DAILY CONTACT

    • MMLA Office Telephone: 610-957-6296  (7:30 AM-10:30 PM Eastern Time)
    • After-hours Emergency Only: 802-458-5493 or 802-485-5495
    • Fax: 802-419-5034
    • Email to MMLA Staff: mmla.swrth@middleburyinteractive.com

    -Send an email if you would like to send a message to your child, or if you have a question for MMLA faculty or staff. Emails for students will be printed and delivered along with the mail each day.

    • MMLA Swarthmore Blog: http://mmla.middlebury.edu/blog/swarthmore/

    -Read about and see the activities and events taking place on campus by visiting the Campus Blog. Posts and pictures from each campus are available from the Blog link at the top of the main MMLA web page.

    STUDENT CALLING HOME SCHEDULE
    Students will be given two calling days a week from 4:45 PM to 5:30 PM EST, during free time. These are also the hours students may use email to contact parents.

    • Chinese Academy phone call/email days are Thursday, June 26th, July 3rdand 10th, Sundays, July 6th and 13th (4 - 4:45 PM only) and Wednesday, July 16th.

     

    • French Academy phone call/email days are Thursday, June 26th, Wednesdays, July 2ndand 9th, Sundays, July 6th and 13th (3 - 3:45 PM only) and Tuesday, July 15th.

     

    • Spanish Academy phone call/email days are all  Wednesday, June 25th, Tuesdays, July 1stand July 8th, Saturdays, July 5thand 12th (4:45-5:30PM only) and Monday, July 14th.

     

  • Classroom Perspective

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    I had the pleasure of visiting various classes this morning to observe the students in their own learning environment. I was able to see all three academies in action and was surprised at the level of comprehension in each class! I was very impressed by how all of the students were incredibly engaged in what each teacher was presenting and everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves as well. 

    Since it was a very hot day, I’m sure the students were somewhat relieved to be in the air conditioned classrooms rather than being outside enduring the heat wave that we are experiencing here in Swarthmore. All in all it was a great to see the students dedicated to learning not only in their daily activities, but also in the classroom as well!

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Another journée fantastique with the French Academy!

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    Today we had a full plate of activities. Students continued to work hard in their morning lessons and afternoon cultural classes (this week features subjects such as Francophone Music, Normandy and French communities in America like Quebec and Louisiana!). In the afternoon we tie-dyed shirts with Elise, played tennis with Marcel and made friendship bracelets with Zoé outside in our courtyard. We also had a live streaming of the World Cup in France so students could tune into the USA vs. Belgium game (which was although a loss for our home country, a win for a Francophone one!). We finished with our evening assembly where Léa’s cultural class presented a square dance they created learning about Louisiana, and all classes presented skits relating to directions. Our students are now experts at giving directions around Swarthmore’s campus! We ended the night by singing along to our new team anthem “On est là” (We are here) which we will be presenting at the World Expo in a few weeks. Despite the rising heat, the French Academy is keeping a high energy and we are excited for what the rest of the summer has in store!

  • Starting the Week Strong

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    We are off to a great start in our second week at the MMLA Swarthmore College Academy. There has been a great atmosphere around here after last nights Language Pledge® recommitment ceremony. I can see that every student is finding their own way a little each passing day and hopefully this week is no different. Here is what each Academy has been up to thus far:

    The Spanish Academy had an awesome, but a relaxing start to our second week after a very busy weekend. Our day began with morning assembly, which featured audience participation in choosing MMLA’s favorite foods. Some of the choices were both difficult and hilarious, while others were less appetizing. After class, students were able to choose from a variety of activities including capture the flag, soccer, pictionary and charades. 

    Additionally, today was the first time that students were allowed to head into the quaint town of Swarthmore to check out the local coffee shop, head over to the co-op to buy some delicious treats or simply grab a smoothie and ‘chill.’ The students loved a chance to explore the town independently, but also got to experience the challenges of the Language Pledge® from an entirely new perspective. Because of MMLA’s history at Swarthmore, our students were often more surprised by the challenge of pointing and gesturing than the many of the townsfolk, but enjoyed the experience. Besides, Hobbs’ fresh coffees are worth the extra effort!

    -Ben Bradshaw, Spanish Residential Advisor

    Today, the Chinese academy had a great time making “jiao zi” (dumplings) and writing “shu fa” (calligraphy). Led by teachers in the cultural exploration section, some students made Chinese dumplings by themselves with cabbage, pork, green onion and other seasonings. They enjoyed tasting both water-boiled and pan-fried dumplings. Other students explored the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy and even wrote their Chinese name with a calligraphy brush. Students also learned basic techniques of calligraphy by practicing the character 永 (yong).  

    -Ya Chu Liu, Chinese Residential Advisor

    On Monday the French Academy warmed up with a group exercise where students had a word or phrase taped to their backs with the goal of guessing what it was. The energy of the group was strong and confident, as students made quick work of the exercise before heading off to class. After activities and dinner the entire Academy gathered again to present and share what they learned during class.  After everyone had presented, Étienne (our Language Director), decided to provide them with a taste of one of the more challenging comprehension experiences in French culture: the news! A short clip covered four news stories from La Normandie, during which even the most advanced students could find many opportunities to expand their understanding of the language. Finally, before heading back to the dorms, Elise (our Assistant Language Director) brought the academy wide assembly to a close by teaching a short, lullaby-like song and bringing the entire academy together into one voice before heading back to the residence halls, ready to rest before another engaging day of immersion.

    -Nolan Powers, French Residential Advisor

    Until next time,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Sunday Funday

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    This Sunday at Swarthmore College, the students enjoyed various activities intended to give them a break from the rigors of the past weeks classes and assignments. Each student was able to catch up a little on sleep as well as some brief exemptions from the language pledge in different circumstances during the day. As the day drew to a close, all the academies held a Language Pledge recommitment ceremony to ready everyone for the coming week. Here are some words from our wonderful staff pertaining to Sunday’s events in each academy:

    After a language charged week, the students deserved a relaxed Sunday morning. Students enjoyed a small sleep-in before they broke up into their living groups and explored the little town of Swarthmore for the first time. Beginners felt a wave of relief as the director, Étienne, called a brief momentary pause in the Language Pledge ®. The academy shouted together a countdown from ten to un, signifying the end of the pause, reestablishing their commitment to “parler en français.” After finishing their second Sunday here at Swarthmore, students presented their action-packed comics and hilarious commercials from cultural exploration classes. The most exciting aspect of the evening occurred when the beginners signed the un-altered Language Pledge ®, joining their peers English-free for the next three weeks! 

    -Tess Lagor, French Residential Advisor

    Sunday at the SWT Chinese academy gave the students a well-needed change of pace from the hectic week of classes, activities, cultural exploration activities, and assemblies. With a bit later start to the day, a screening of the Disney Classic “Mulan,” and even an opportunity for some English communication with new friends, Sunday afternoon was a refreshing change of routine.  The day ended with a “language pledge recommitment ceremony,” where we were all reminded about the importance of keeping the language pledge and staying true to our promise to learn Chinese for the weeks to come. Then, we cheered as we all resigned our names, and returned home to relax before the school week would begin once again the next morning. 

    -Rebecca Levy, Chinese Residential Advisor

    After an arduous week, the Spanish students relaxed with a day composed mostly of free time.  Many slept late and woke up to play cards with their friends, or go to lunch at the dining hall.  The Spanish RAs took groups off to watch Telenovelas, a type of soap-opera, and also to organize sports on the lawn.  In the afternoon students were able to start their new Culture classes, including taking selfies in the style of various Hispanic artists and a class on muralism in Mexican Revolution. 

    -Tim Pillsbury, Spanish Dorm Head

    Looking forward to another great week!

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Saturday Night Fever

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    Yesterday marked the beginning of the first weekend here at MMLA Swarthmore. The students were treated to many various activities and events throughout the day and night as well as some much deserved down time mixed in. Here is what some of our staff had to say:

    The Spanish Academy traveled to Tierra Colombiana, a restaurant in Philadelphia that specializes in food from Colombia and around the Caribbean. The menu included:
    empanadas de queso, brochetas de tostones, ensalada mixta, ensalada de aguacate y mango, pollo en salsa de limón, ropa vieja, arroz con gandules, arroz blanco y frijoles negros y rojos.  For dessert, the students chose from tres leches cake and flan.  

    Afterwards, everyone took part in a one hour salsa dance lesson where the group learned a variety of basic steps. This was followed by dancing in pairs. The trip concluded with a dance off between 5 couples. All in all, it was a great day with lots of Latin flavor. Enjoy the photos!

    -David Brightbill, Spanish Language Director

    An exciting day for the students in the French Academy. It is hard to believe that we have almost been here for a week; but today we wrapped up our first cultural exploration classes studying and creating our own comic strips and advertisements. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon exploring the campus with our photo scavenger hunt – looking for the big white chair, chipmunks, a wall made of windows, where a superhero would live, etc. All this led up to our evening event - Fest Noz, the night festival of Bretagne. Together we discovered the traditional music, dance, culture, and even language that make this region of France unique from all others. We made recipe cards, triskells, and learned about traditional Breton outfits. We ended our evening with a crepe decorating competition, where all French Academy students had the opportunity to show off their gourmet creations! Another extraordinary day with the French Academy. 

    -Rachel Ippolito, French Dorm Head

    We did it! After a long week of classes and adjustment to living completely in Chinese, we finally made it to the weekend! In the morning, students had the opportunity to go downtown for a while, visiting Swarthmore’s co-op, candy store, and coffee shop - all in target language of course! In the evening, we had a much awaited event. This Saturday we had our first full academy party. The theme for the party was 1920’s Shanghai. In this casino style party, students were given poker chips to compete in a variety of card games. Later, students had the opportunity to learn some popular C-pop dances and show us their moves!

    -Tim Quinn, Chinese Residential Advisor

    Until next time,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Sunny Swarthmore: Thursdays Events & Activities

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    Another eventful day here on the Swarthmore College campus with many great activities and events offering the students fun ways to further their own language abilities and learning. And of course another day means a more comfortable transition into the day to day schedule for each student, who seem to be finding their way much easier around campus and interacting in their respective languages with a lot of improvement. Here are some words about Thursday’s events from some of our wonderful staff here at MMLA Swarthmore:

    The day began with an energetic morning assembly with dancing, music and lots of laughing. After introducing the students to a song that we will be using for one of the dances, my residents presented a skit about conflicts in the dorm. Topics included having trouble learning one another’s names, disagreements over what time to set one´s alarm with two roommates on different sleep schedules and enforcing the rule of not eating in one´s room so as to not attract bugs into the building. Students had the opportunity to practice useful vocabulary that they might need to discuss matters related to the dorm with one another. 

    Afternoon activities included quite a special option, of which many students in the academy took full advantage–watching a World Cup match! With Spanish commentary, of course! Other students enjoyed a Zumba class led by fellow RA Sara. To add a bit of extra language immersion, Sara and I helped the students to understand the lyrics in some of the songs to which we danced. We are planning to continue offering Zumba, both for the opportunity to exercise and to enjoy music in Spanish!

    -Gabe Beckerman, Spanish Residential Advisor

    Today was the third full day for the French students here at Swarthmore, and the dynamics throughout our Academy have led to a consistently fun, energizing and accepting environment. Students have taken a foothold in their target language, socializing comfortably, and taking giant steps thanks to their peers as friendships continue to grow and sprout everywhere. Later, during activities some of the Academy chose to spend part of their time watching the France vs. Ecuador match of the World Cup, cheering on their fellow adopted countrymen, and celebrating the French advancement in the Cup despite the “match nul” (double entendre meaning a much that is tied 0-0). In the evening assembly students took the stage for one of the many opportunities to come, performing short scenes that brought plenty of laughter and put a spotlight on some thought provoking social situations. Back at the dorms near the end of the day, many of our students were treated to a small impromptu performance by pianists, cellists, guitarists and even ukelele players in their living groups, creating a buzz about the talent show that waits towards the end of the weeks ahead.

    -Nolan Powers, French Residential Advisor

    Being at MMLA always presents new opportunities to learn in a fun cultural environment. Today, Liu Laoshi taught us how to paint Beijing opera masks: multicolored faces that represent different characters throughout Chinese history. We also learned the language of the dorm environment: things like how to say “flush the toilet!” and “I need to do laundry” should come very much in handy over the next few weeks. Today we also made our first phone calls home, and we’re all very excited about what the next weeks have in store!

    -Terry Hsieh, Chinese Dorm Head

     

    Until tomorrow,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Conjuntos Visit Spanish Academy

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    Last night, the Spanish Academy had the pleasure of hosting Conjuntos, a local Cubano band from Philadelphia. They treated the students and teachers with a variety of instruments and vocals through the night. Heres what Sarah, a Residential Advisor for the Spanish Academy, had to say about the day’s activities as well as the performance:

    Wednesday was a day packed with new cultural experiences for our Spanish students. During the afternoon, we watched the World Cup game between Ecuador and France (for the record it was a tie, but ¡Vaya Ecuador!). The entire broadcast was in Spanish and students were truly able to experience the grip soccer has on Spanish-speaking countries. The commentators were charming and passionate- yelling at times of intensity and sprouting poetry for their favorite players.
    At night, the Spanish academy was in for a treat. Our nightly assembly was visited by Conjunto Philadelphia, a local Cuban band. The band plays Cuban music from pre-revolutionary Cuba–a unique type of music which combines the rhythms of cha-cha-chá, Son, Bolero and jazz. Students learned the basic steps of salsa and danced to the rhythm of the live music. 

    Students truly enjoyed a day of cultural immersion at the Spanish Academy!

    -Sarah Awad-Farid, Spanish Residential Advisor

    Stay tuned tomorrow for another post!

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • Tuesday Routine

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    We are definitely in the swing of things here at Swarthmore. The students have been busy learning their languages and interacting with their newfound friends and teaching staff. Here are some words from the staff on Tuesday’s activities:

    On Tuesday, the Spanish Academy had their second full day. They are beginning to learn the systems and routines of the day. Even in so short a time, improvement was marked, especially in listening comprehension. The students also began to grow out of their shells as friend groups started to expand from just roommates and immediate hall neighbors to more people in the living group and classes. The students with stronger skills are leading the way in socialization, and there is a great spirit of camaraderie in the dormitory as students help one another to embrace the immersion environment and still find ways to express their wants, needs, and personality.

    -Tim Pillsbury, Spanish Dorm Head

    Bonjour!

    The second day here at MMLA was an eventful one. We started the day with our morning assembly where the RAs led the gesture telephone game, where you had to pass the message down the line using only charades, which really highlighted the importance of body language and gestures in language. We also played an exciting game of “Elephants, Knights and Boats” where everyone had to quickly get into the positions when they were shouted out by our MC Zoé. All the students left with smiles on their faces for the morning classes. In the afternoon, the students had a choice of three activities: playing soccer with Marcel, making friendship bracelets with Zoé, or going to the pool with Léa and Cécile. We were all happy to be active and outside because it was a beautiful day. That night, we had our first nighttime assembly, where we welcomed two new students to the French Academy and also congratulated four students who already (after only one day) moved up a level in their classes. We are so proud of the progress our students are making! Everyone is excited to stick to the language pledge and improve their French during this first week of classes. The French Academy is truly an inspirational place to be. I can’t wait to see the progress our enthusiastic students will make in the future!

    -Maggie Liston, French Residential Advisor

    On the students’ third day of classes, everyone in the Chinese academy is settling into their exciting new lives here at MMLA. Classes, coursework, and dorm life are becoming more familiar, as relationships with teachers, RAs, and most importantly, new friends are blossoming - all in target language of course! Today, students started the day off with “jingshen” (energy) as they all danced along to a Chinese music video at our morning assembly! I am so proud of the Chinese academy’s spirit and enthusiasm as they tackle each day’s activities and events, and can’t wait to see how the rest of the week goes!

    -Becca Levy, Chinese Residential Advisor

  • Language Pledge Ceremony

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    As I entered the building where the Language Pledge ceremonies were taking place, I could immediately feel the excitement bursting through each room. Before even entering the rooms I could hear the cheering and laugher knocking down the doors. Whether it was the French academy singing traditional songs, the Spanish Academy dancing to different Spanish music, or the Chinese Academy running up and down the aisles throwing high fives, the excitement from each of these academies was uncontainable. Each student signed the Language Pledge, which is a promise to speak their respected language and their language only. From what I saw from each of the academies, the students were eager and excited for what was to come next!

    Read below as our wonderful Residential Advisors recount their stories on yesterday’s activities:

    The students in the Spanish Academy had a busy and exciting first full day at MMLA. After meeting in hall living groups Sunday evening and going over the daily schedule for the summer, students attended breakfast and our first morning assembly where the Language Director and Assistant Language Director welcomed us all to the program. Next, students began class and each finished taking the oral portion of their language placement with one of our fantastic Spanish teachers. After lunch, students attended the first session of the cultural electives offered this week, which include topics like Latin dance, improvisation and music. In the afternoon, students got the choice of relaxing by playing soccer, doing arts and crafts, playing with sidewalk chalk, or listening to music. 

    After dinner, the Spanish Academy all dressed up for the formal Language Pledge Ceremony where our wonderful Language Director David led the group through techniques for staying in language this summer. We finished the assembly by signing the official Middlebury Language Pledge and returned to our residencia to hang out, unwind, and get some sleep. 

    -Caila Driscoll, Spanish Residential Advisor

    Today we kicked things off right away, marking are first day at MMLA and the beginning of the Chinese academy’s 2014-summer season. It was a day filled with emotions – both excitement and nervousness – as we all begin to get to know each other and learn how to live and communicate in target language. In the morning, we had our first morning assembly, where the RA’s put on a lively performance for the students. After that, students were able to go to their classrooms, meet their teachers, and finish their placement exams. In the afternoon, it was time for the beginning of cultural activities. Aside from cultural classes conducted by the teachers, the RA’s also introduced students to Chinese music and games. We also organized a lively game of dodge ball (which is not Chinese in its origins, but fun nonetheless!). In the evening, an event anticipated with both dread an excitement – the official signing of the language pledge. After a discussion of communication strategies and ways to stay in language, the students all signed the pledge. 再見英文!Zaijian Yingwen! Goodbye English! 中文加油!Zhongwen Jia You! Let’s go Chinese!

    -Tim Quinn, Chinese Residential Advisor

    Bonjour tout le monde!

    Monday marked the official first day of academy classes activities, after an energizing convocation on Sunday night. The French academy might be the smallest of the three here at Swarthmore, but it’s clear already that we’re full of energy and fully capable of matching the larger academies in a cheering match. On est petit, mais on est fort! (We’re small, but we’re strong!) As everyone (from students, to animateurs, to teachers) begins getting acclimated to the campus and life in the dorms, it’s wonderful to hear so many voices speaking (and sometimes singing!) in French together. In one of our Monday afternoon activities, students listened to and learned the lyrics to a number of French and francophone songs, including even some songs from Disney’s Frozen, translated into French.  This is a wonderful start to what’s shaping up to be a full and fantastic week. 

    Allez les bleus!

    -Hannah Kosman, French Residential Advisor

    Until next time,

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant


  • Let It Begin.

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    Greetings from MMLA Swarthmore! Yesterday was filled with excitement as we hosted many families and students arriving to campus to begin their own language immersion adventure. As the students settled into their respective dorms and got acquainted with their Residential Advisors and living groups, we were happy to have various meetings with the parents who were able to experience the life of a student this summer. The Language Directors did a phenomenal job of demonstrating many different ways of communicating using the target language. We are all looking forward to the upcoming Language Pledge Ceremonies and the rest of an AMAZING adventure! 

    -Max Brazo, Program Assistant

  • It’s Almost Showtime!

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    Greetings from the Academy office staff here at Swarthmore College! All of us here couldn’t be more excited for the beginning of the camp in less than a week and are currently in the midst of making sure everything is prepared for your arrival. We hope you are very excited for an awesome adventure! 

  • MMLA Will Fast-Track You To Achieving Your Goals

    When I signed up for MMLA I had no idea how I was going to use Chinese in my future, or even if I was going to continue it into university. I only knew that I had the eventual objective of fluency and that I wanted to improve as much as I could. Aside from exceeding my expectations for improving my language skills, my experience at MMLA made a huge difference in how I look at learning Chinese in the future.

    During MMLA I jumped a level in overall fluency, from Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High, in the most challenging and rewarding learning environment I’ve ever been in. I also gained a much better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses in the language, which has helped me to target my learning during the year. I now have a new perspective on the possibilities for continuing my language learning in the future, which definitely includes studying Mandarin in university and using it in my career.

    Whatever your reason for learning a new language, MMLA will fast-track you to achieving your goals. Whether you know for sure that you’re going to be a multi-lingual translator working with the United Nations, or you just want to get into AP language class, summer at MMLA will definitely change your outlook on language learning for the better.

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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  • The MMLA Community

    One of the extra benefits of learning at MMLA is getting to live and learn with an amazingly diverse group of teachers and students. With students and teachers from all over the US and the world, the campus is rich in experiences and perspectives that shape every part of learning at MMLA.

    I remember being at one of the first English-allowed events, with everyone commenting on the sudden materialization of accents after a week of speaking only Mandarin. It was strange to be reminded of what different backgrounds we had, even though we all shared a common goal. But it was those different experiences that contributed to such a lively environment where internationally focused learning extended far beyond the classroom.

    In short, be prepared to feel the international-ness everywhere you step, and be transformed into a part of one, big, multilingual family while you’re at MMLA. 

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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  • Real-life Language Learning at MMLA

    Before I went to MMLA, I had only used Mandarin with my tutor during classes. Every once in a while I met a person who spoke Mandarin and had a short conversation with them, but I rarely had the opportunity to use a wide range of vocabulary in real-life settings. The outside-of-class activities at MMLA were extremely valuable to me and other students because they provided that opportunity to use the language like you would in real life.During my first week at MMLA, I had a Chinese cultural dance class every day, where I learned about Chinese culture in addition to acquiring and using new vocabulary. Our teacher would teach us each action while describing what she was doing in Chinese, so that we quickly learned the Chinese words for “turn around”, “open fan”, and other actions.

    In cooking class I learned how to name common ingredients and cooking processes like “soy sauce”, “rice” and “boil”. It was easy to remember these words because they were associated with experiences and images, as opposed to only being words on a blackboard.

    If you’ll be attending MMLA this summer, make sure to attend a variety of outside-of-class activities- it will be more fun and you’ll improve your language skills without even realizing it.” 

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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  • Tips to Accelerate Your Language Learning at the Academy

    1. Ask questions - The quickest way to learn new vocabulary is to ask questions when speaking to your RA’s, teachers and friends and make the most of opportunities for conversation. The RA’s will be with you or near you during most of your downtime so you’ll always have the opportunity to learn new vocabulary from them.

    2. Repeat new words - It can get a bit overwhelming when new words are flying around you all the time. I found that I remembered new words much better when I repeated them and tried to use them in my conversations afterwards as much as possible.

    3. Use your dorm room - Jasmine mentioned on her blog that she used flashcards posted on her dorm wall to help her learn new vocabulary. I saw a lot of people doing similar things when I was at MMLA; it’s an awesome idea that I can tell you really works.

    4. Keep an organized notebook - When I went to MMLA last summer I fell into the habit of writing new words on random pages of my notebook and trusting myself to remember words without writing them down. This made it difficult for me to review vocabulary I learned at MMLA once I got home. I recommend bringing a hard-covered notebook so that it doesn’t fold in your bag and using highlighters or different colored pens to keep you organized. If you’ll be studying Chinese, square-ruled books designed for writing Chinese characters will help too.

     

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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  • The Pre-College Experience at MMLA

    When I applied to MMLA last year I didn’t anticipate the added benefit of learning and living in a college environment. As an eighth grade student (and as a ninth grade student now), taking in the university experience wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. A few days on campus, however, proved how fun and valuable the pre-college experience was even for younger students like me. 

     

    During the first few days at the academy I was surprised by the independence we were given. It was a surprise that at first I wasn’t sure I was ready for, but I soon adjusted to the changes from my regular routine. I felt completely safe at the academy, and enjoyed being able to wake up early to go on a run in the morning or just walk across the campus with my friends during the day. The warm weather at Green Mountain meant that we were hardly ever inside, so my friends and I often played badminton or Frisbee or went for a quick swim during free time.

     

    Living in the dorms was a great experience for me and played a big role in developing many of the friendships I made at the academy. My roommate was the second person I met at MMLA, and we became best friends almost immediately. Even the most ordinary events were exciting in the dorms; I remember bonding with soon-to-be friends while brushing my teeth and doing laundry.  

     

    Living at GMC reaffirmed to me that I want to go to a university somewhere further away from home. I loved being in a completely different environment than what I’m used to and meeting people that come from different areas of the US and the world, an experience that I don’t think I’ll have to the same extent if I choose to stay in Ontario. I also realized that while going to university in a city might be more lively, the nature and outdoor activities of the campus made me love the rural setting of GMC.

     

    If you’re lucky enough to have a few choices in terms of campus this summer, I’d recommend choosing a campus that is noticeably different from where you live. While the experience will be exciting and eye-opening at any campus, learning at Green Mountain in an environment completely different from Toronto made my experience all the more rewarding.

     

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

     

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  • My Top 5 Packing Tips for the Academy

    1.  Pack for warm weather – Short sleeve shirts and shorts/skirts are the best choice for staying cool and comfortable while attending classes and activities. I almost never wore a sweater or jeans last summer, and could have saved some space in my luggage by instead packing a few more t-shirts.

     

    2.   A huge electric fan (or the person who lets you borrow their fan) will be your best friend – I only brought a small fan with me last summer because I was taking a plane home and didn’t want to use up too much space in my luggage. Although my fan was really easy to carry around, it didn’t make much of a difference in cooling a big dorm room, and I ended up using my roommate’s fan most of the time. If you have the space, I recommend bringing an electric fan at least 14” in diameter.

     

    3.  Bring sunscreen and sunglasses – Sunscreen and sunglasses were especially useful during the fourth of July parade and other outdoor activities, but  most students also wore them while walking from class to class.

     

    4.  Pack light formal clothes – We had two formal events last summer in addition to three casual dances. The events took place in hot weather, so light clothing is best.

     

    5.  Remember washing detergent! - We didn’t have a place to buy detergent at Green Mountain, so those who didn’t bring any (like myself) shared with friends. Each student washed about a load per week, but bringing extra detergent is a good idea.

    Good luck!

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 


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  • The Importance of the Language Pledge

    The Language Pledge is the foundation of the Academy experience and what differentiated learning at the Academy from my language learning during the school year.

    Attending the Academy was the first time I participated in an immersion environment, and while I was nervous about expressing myself and making friends in a second language, I was also excited to be able to speak Mandarin outside the limits of my classroom.

    I can’t express all the benefits that full immersion had on both my language learning and my experience at the Academy. While I developed confidence in my speaking ability, I also made closer friends than I think I could have otherwise. Though there were several moments when I couldn’t fully express an idea or ask the exact question I wanted to ask, I was always met by a supportive group of RA’s, teachers, and friends who understood the challenges of living in a second language. Some of my favorite memories from the Academy actually come from the misunderstandings I had between friends and RA’s because I mixed up a word I thought I had heard earlier or pronounced a word with a different intonation.

    While the Language Pledge was probably the most daunting part of initially signing up for the Academy, the full-immersion environment made my experience much more exciting and rewarding. The countless benefits of the pledge are intangible and continue to influence my language learning in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated before attending the program.

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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  • Why I Chose to Come to MMLA

    Growing up in a bilingual household and having studied Mandarin Chinese since the age of five, I can’t remember a time when language learning wasn’t a part of my life. I love the challenges presented by learning a new language and the feeling of being connected to a culture entirely different from my own.

    I originally looked into MMLA after hearing about my dad’s experiences attending Middlebury’s Japanese summer program while he was in university. After pouring over student testimonials and academy videos, I decided to apply to the GMC campus in Vermont. Without hesitation I can say that both applying to MMLA and choosing the GMC campus are some of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    To me, the letters MMLA are synonymous with adventure. It seemed like every second of MMLA was a new experience and I can’t imagine a more fulfilling way to spend a month as a high school student. Aside from the huge leap I experienced in my language skills, I met an amazing group of teachers, RA’s and students who are truly passionate about language learning and continue to inspire me.

    This summer I’ll be continuing my studies of Mandarin at the Swarthmore Campus in Pennsylvania. I’m excited to once again immerse myself in a language that has become so much a part of my life while living and learning with a community of inspirational students and teachers. I think that’s what’s so special about MMLA: it’s not only an immersive language camp, it’s also a camp that immerses students in an environment of risk-taking and exploration.

    Katya Pollock is a ninth grade student from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Last summer, she attended MMLA at Green Mountain College to improve her Mandarin Chinese proficiency. Outside of MMLA, Katya studies Mandarin with an at-home tutor. This summer, she’s enrolled in the Chinese Academy at Swarthmore. 

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Swarthmore Academy students take the Language Pledge®.


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