Sign-up deadline near for foreign language classes...

Sign-up deadline near for foreign language classes (+VIDEO)

What better way to spend a few weeks this summer than learning a new language and expanding the world around you?

Monday, July 1, is the deadline to sign up for the July session of the 2013 Summer Language Institute at MTSU’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition.

The university’s 11th annual institute, which began earlier this month, is offering weeklong courses in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Latin classes along with Spanish and French instruction.

Dr. Shelley Thomas, right, an MTSU Foreign Languages and Literatures professor, teaches a French class during the 2013 Summer Language Institute June 20 at MTSU. July 1 is the deadline to register for the July session. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Beginning Arabic, French and Spanish will be offered July 15-19 along with an introductory language course in Chinese. Advanced courses in all four are set July 22-26. Classes are open to anyone 13 and older.

Training also will be offered in methodology, which helps teachers of young students learning English as a foreign or second language.

The classes require only a week for beginners to grasp and use a new vocabulary, thanks to unique methods designed to teach students a second language the same way they learned their first — by relating vocabulary to movement and learning grammar through storytelling.

“We take about 150 words that students can touch, see, act out,” said Dr. Shelley Thomas, founder of the institute, noting that examples include numbers, colors, foods, clothing and places inside a home.

“We don’t use any words that they don’t actually experience in class.”

Nashville resident Winston Joffrion, a speech language pathologist, took Spanish classes in college years ago, but didn’t become fluent and decided a refresher was in order.

“Spanish is becoming more and more important in the U.S.,” said Joffrion during a class break this week inside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. “I enjoy languages and wanted to increase my fluency. I feel like I have sort of a Swiss cheese effect in Spanish … I can’t use it very well.

“That’s why I like this class so much, because you’re speaking the whole time and it has more of a natural feel to it.”

At the end of four days of classes, students should be able to read the first chapter of a novel written in their new language and are given online resources to continue practicing, Thomas said.

The morning language classes are set from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and afternoon teachers’ workshops will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. All will be held in Room 106 of the Honors Building.

The methodology course can be taken for graduate credit for those who register through MTSU. Those not needing university credit can register through the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition for a much lower price; the first class is $300, and additional courses are $150 each.

Participants may register at the center’s website at and watch video clips and read reviews of past classes, too. You also can watch a video from one of this summer’s Spanish classes below.

— Jimmy Hart (