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July 6–August, 1912

Associate Professor Lilian Stroebe of the Vassar German Department conducted a German Summer School in Lakeville, Connecticut, thus originating summer language schools in America. In 1915, she established the Middlebury German Summer School, introducing 41 students to the “total-immersion” system. “One of the chief objects of the courses,” she wrote, “is to enable the students to understand and speak German with ease. This can only be attained by constant practice; for this reason the school must demand a promise from its students to avoid the use of their own language, and to speak German only, outside as well as in the house…. The house will be generously provided with German books, pictures, periodicals and newspapers, and everything possible will be done to create a German atmosphere. There will be one teacher for every six or seven students.”

The success of Stroebe’s method led to the establishment at Middlebury of the French and Spanish summer schools in 1916 and 1917.

—Stephen A. Freeman, The Middlebury College Foreign Language Schools (1915-1970): The Story of a Unique Idea

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