Summer Language Institute lets students dive right...

Summer Language Institute lets students dive right in

Youngsters learning English in Coimbatore, India, get their first taste of Total Physical Response language education from MTSU's Dr. Shelley Thomas, right. (photo courtesy of the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition)

Instructors at the Summer Language Institute at MTSU’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition have found the secret to mastering a new language: Let students learn by doing—and by having fun.

MTSU’s 10th annual Summer Language Institute uses innovative methods to help students grasp and use a new language. Registration for this year’s institute ended July 3.

The “Total Physical Response” and “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling” methods are designed to teach students a second language the same way they learned their first—by relating vocabulary to movement and learning grammar through storytelling. Students are completely immersed in the language from the first day of class.

“I have seen these methods work with adults in their 70s, even with languages as difficult as Mandarin. I can now tell people who regret never having studied a language or who had a bad experience that it is not too late,” said Dr. Shelley Thomas, an associate professor of foreign languages and literatures at MTSU and founder of the Summer Language Institute.

The beginning Spanish class is planned for July 9-13. Courses in beginning Spanish and beginning French are scheduled July 16-20.

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

The morning language classes are conducted in a fun, low-stress atmosphere using movement, songs and games, said Thomas, who has spent years teaching the language-learning methods to teachers worldwide. Participants gain a low level of proficiency that will enable them to carry on very basic conversations.

The afternoon teachers’ workshops discuss the language-learning process and guide participants in using the TPR and TPRS methods.

These courses at the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition can be taken for graduate credits or as noncredit language courses.

Participants may get more information, watch video clips and read reviews of past classes at the center’s site at Information also is available there on future workshops.