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Students immerse themselves in Language Workshop summer intensives

Jul 12, 2023

Laila Morris doesn’t see summer as a time to slow down.

The soon-to-be sophomore studying Middle Eastern languages and cultures in the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies is one of hundreds of students from across the country who are participating in the highly competitive Language Workshop. The summer intensive gives students the opportunity to cover one year’s worth of language instruction in just two months.

Students in red shirts hold up their hands Laila Morris, second from the left, is participating in the Arabic immersion workshop. Photo by Alex Kumar, Indiana University

“When I was looking to plan how my time at IU would be spent, the Language Workshop allowed me to be more efficient by helping me accelerate my language studies,” Morris said. “So, as a sophomore, I will already be in fourth-year Arabic.”

Morris is participating in the Arabic immersion workshop this summer, one of the three in-person programs offered on the IU Bloomington campus. Students in immersion programs agree to speak only the language they are studying during the workshop. They have four hours of daily classes, as well as daily one-on-one training and weekly lectures and clubs they attend.

“I’ve found the summer program is helping me improve my confidence in speaking,” Morris said. “When you’re starting a language, you’re worried about saying something right or you know what you want to say but don’t know how. This helps me push through those boundaries and be open to being corrected and moving on.”

The experience has not only enriched Morris’ time at IU, but it’s helping prepare her for her desired career as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. government.

The workshop has been equally transformative for Casey Edgarian, who is studying Ukrainian this summer — one of the 21 online workshops offered as part of the Language Workshop. Edgarian recently graduated from IU with his Master of Arts in Central Eurasian studies from the Hamilton Lugar School and Master of Public Affairs from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He’s participated in the Language Workshop for several years and was first drawn to IU because of the less commonly taught languages offered.

“In 2019 I was looking for a language program because I would be working in Kyrgyzstan and wanted to know the language a bit,” Edgarian said. “IU was the only place in the U.S. that teaches the language, so it was a no-brainer.”

A man in a black turtleneck Casey Edgarian has participated in several language workshops. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana UniversityEdgarian has also studied Uzbek, Mongolian, Tatar and Russian during previous summer workshops. He has a passion for languages and hopes his intensive study will make him a good candidate to work for an international nongovernmental organization, or even the United Nations.

“This is one of the highlights of my experience at IU because it’s allowing me to take languages I wouldn’t have had time to do during the academic year and sometimes aren’t even offered during the academic year,” he said.

While admission to the Language Workshop is highly competitive, the program prides itself on remaining accessible. About 70 percent of the attendees come from outside of IU, and more than $1 million in scholarships is available each summer.

“It is a truism among workshop instructors that their summer workshop students are the best they have ever taught,” said Kathleen Evans, director of the Language Workshop. “This is in part because the workshop attracts students who are interested enough in language and culture learning to devote their summer to it and in part because of the workshop’s rigorous selection process.”

In addition to the on-campus and online workshops, the workshop also operates special study abroad programs in Taiwan and Budapest.

IU has offered the Language Workshop since 1950, a testament to its longstanding commitment to a global education. The university teaches more languages than any other in the United States.

Author

IU Newsroom

Barbara Brosher

Executive Director of Storytelling and Research Communications

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