Last week I posted an essay about my time away from the world of English, and some of the lessons I'd learned. I am incredibly grateful to Middlebury College in general, its language schools in particular, and the French school especially. I am forever indebted, personally, to mes professeurs, Corinne Fertein, Véronique Ogden and Simone Muller. They were not just great French teachers, they were some of the best teachers I've ever had. (The teaching quality in the French school is the subject for another day. It was superior.) I am exceedingly thankful to have been selected as a Kathryn Davis Fellow.
Attending Middlebury was one of the most significant experiences of my life. It's not even so much that I never dreamed I'd go seven weeks without English. It's that—until very recently—I never even knew that this was something worth wanting. My son did a four-week version of the same program. He stayed on another campus, but his group came to visit my campus on the second week. I can't quite explain what it is to see your child, meet all of his friends, and have this entire interaction in another language. It was surreal.
I'll save all the other such experiences for another post. What we have here is my "after" video. (Here is the "before.") The video can't really show the progress that was most important to me. What changed most at Middlebury, for me, was not in how I talked, but how I heard. The first time we did this video there were several moments when I didn't even understand the question. I had no such moments this time.