9:01am

Wed June 5, 2013
Arts & Culture

Learn a New Language by Telling Stories in Summer Seminars at MTSU

You can spend the rest of your life saying, “I wish I’d learned a second language,” or you can start speaking one this summer at the 2013 Summer Language Institute at MTSU’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition.

The university’s 11th annual Summer Language Institute is offering weeklong courses in multiple languages beginning in mid-June, including — for the first time! — Arabic, Chinese and Latin classes along with Spanish and French instruction. 

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

The June registration deadline is Monday, June 10. Deadline to register for the July classes is Monday, July 1.

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. 

"The biggest thing that people want is for learning language to be fun and stress-free and hands-on, and that's what it is," said Dr. Shelley Thomas, an associate professor of foreign languages and literatures at MTSU and founder of the Summer Language Institute.

"In traditional classes, they sit and memorize vocabulary and repeat verb charts. In our class, there's immediate experience and then we talk about using the language. We use that simple vocabulary to create a story together. We act it out together.

“Then, after being able to talk about the story, the teacher asks the students about these same vocabulary words from their own lives. So learning goes from experience to stories to being able to talk about it yourself.”

Instead of memorizing nouns, verbs and other parts of speech, the language students relate vocabulary to movement and pictures in language-teaching methods known as “Total Physical Response” and “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling.” Classes are open to anyone 13 and older.

The beginning Arabic, French, Latin and Spanish classes are planned for June 17-21, followed by advanced courses in the same languages June 24-28. Beginning Arabic, French and Spanish also will be offered July 15-19 along with an introductory language course in Chinese. Advanced courses in all four are set July 22-26.

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 Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building at MTSU.

The methodology course can be taken for graduate credit as “FL6900” for those who register through MTSU. Those who do not need university credit for language classes 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.

MTSU's Shelley Thomas in India
MTSU's Shelley Thomas in India

Participants may register at the center’s website at www.acceleratedacquisition.com. You also can watch video clips and read reviews of past classes at the site, and Thomas offers some background on the classes in a brief video at

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