The Language Pledge®

التَّعَهُّد اللُغَوي

What is the Language Pledge®?

At the Middlebury C.V. Starr School in Jordan, we’ve been helping students build foreign language fluency for many years.

It all begins with the Language Pledge®: a promise to speak only the language you are studying for the duration of your time in the program. This complete linguistic immersion, combined with rigorous classroom learning and scores of in-language co-curricular activities, helps you achieve dramatic breakthroughs, no matter what your proficiency level. 

Here are a few arguments that explain how the pledge will affect your language acquisition:

  • Immersion students by far outperform students in traditional foreign language classes. They are functionally proficient in the immersion language and build a strong second language base upon which to continue moving toward full proficiency and to develop proficiency in subsequent languages. Our students often compare themselves to their peers who have enrolled in other programs and find that their oral skills are remarkably better after only a few weeks!
  • Immersion students are more aware of and show positive attitudes towards other cultures.
  • Adult brains can re-wire themselves to mimic the brain patterns of native speakers – and this effect is amplified if they study by immersing themselves in a foreign language, rather than sitting in a classroom.
  • Language is acquired most effectively when it is learned in a meaningful social context. This context is created with the help of the immersion philosophy in Middlebury Schools. The foreign language is present 24/7 in a wide variety of contexts.
  • Immersion learners benefit cognitively, exhibiting greater nonverbal problem-solving abilities and more flexible thinking than their non-immersion peers.


This is the pledge you will sign at the end of Orientation Week:
“To take the fullest advantage of my time abroad, I will maintain the spirit of the Middlebury Language Pledge® to speak only in the language I am studying. I understand that no English is to be used in the school offices except in emergency consultations with the director or the staff. I realize that the Language Pledge® plays a major role in the success of the academic, social, and personal dimensions of my time abroad, both as a commitment and as an essential part of the language learning process. I understand that speaking the target language with other students on the program, as well as locals, will help me focus my energies on the acquisition of the language and internalize the patterns of communication and the cultural perspectives associated with the language. Violation of the Language Pledge® deprives me and my fellow students of a valuable opportunity. By signing this, I agree to abide by the Middlebury Language Pledge®.”

Getting Ready for the Pledge:

  • Our program aims to create conditions in which you can successfully maintain the pledge at all times. At the end of the day, though, it is you, the student, who has taken the pledge and needs to find ways and means to follow through with it. To stay motivated, be determined.
  • You might find keeping the pledge difficult in the beginning. As you begin to lose your inhibitions, you become less afraid of making mistakes, grammatical or otherwise.  When you lose this fear, you open yourself up to authentic conversation practice, in which you learn as you go.
  • Be prepared for challenges. You will not always be able to communicate as eloquently in Arabic as you do in your first language. Instead, you can look forward to becoming more attentive listeners and discovering new personality traits.  
  • When you sign the language pledge®, you make a pledge to each other and to yourself (and not to the administration)! In signing the pledge, you take on a great responsibility for your own success as well as the success of your peers and of the program.


You are going to be tired a lot from the language but that’s okay because that means you’re getting better (and burning brain calories so you can eat more Fattet hummus) – 2019 Program Alum