Grace Evans is a fourth-year East Asian Studies major. This past summer, Grace participated in a Chinese Language Intensive summer camp experience.
The program I worked at was the Summer Middlebury Interactive Language Program, specifically the Mandarin Program, in Vermont. I was a Residential Educator, living on a hall with 12 girls all at various levels in the language. It was four weeks of complete immersion into the language for the campers. They weren’t allowed to speak any English and we couldn’t speak English to them either. They also weren’t allowed any English books, music, anything – we even took away their phones.
For the true beginners the immediate immersion was definitely difficult. A lot of communication happened through picture drawing and pointing at things. However, they learned a lot really fast and I got to really develop my ability to interact with them on their different levels. I figured out pretty quickly how I should react to them and what would best help them to understand, even down to my facial expressions. This was a really cool part of the intensive nature of the program, because even though it didn’t really further my own language skills, it absolutely improved my skills in interpreting emotions and navigating various situations – which is useful in every day of our lives.