Frequently Asked Questions

Please feel free to browse the FAQ, or you can choose a question below for quick linkage to the answer:

What kinds of classes does CALA offer?

CALA offers three kinds of classes:  language classes, teacher training workshops, and yoga classes. 

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What are your languages classes like?

Our CALA Language Institute classes are FUN.  But don’t think that fun is antithetical to learning.  Our classes are engineered so that you are constantly interacting in the language in a strategic way that appeals to how your brain learns best.  In class, you’re constantly moving around, playing games, singing songs, and creating stories in the language.  We give you the input, and your brain does the work of acquiring the language (just as it did for your first language).  In fact, many participants report that they are blissfully unaware of their learning—that they come, have fun, and the next thing they know is they are using the language!  We welcome you to watch this short video (~12 minutes) and read testimonials from past participants for even more information.

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What languages do you offer at the CALA Language Institute?

CALA now offers eleven (11) languages:  American Sign Language (ASL), Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Spanish, and Tamil (a popular Indian language).  Please note that the frequency with which any given language is offered depends on instructor availability and demand.  To view our current offerings, please see Our Classes.

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Do  CALA courses (Parts 1-3) correspond to the first, second, and third semesters of college-level language classes?

No, the CALA program is unique and does not mirror the structure seen in most university curricula. CALA courses foster a "whole language" classroom environment wherein students and the instructor constantly communicate with each other in real time. CALA's expertise is making sure that, throughout this interaction, the input received by the learner is comprehensible and activies are brain-based (i.e., designed to take advantage of your brain's natural faculty for acquiring language). With each successive "part," the learner reinforces and strengthens the language already acquired, thus making its structure "continuous" rather than "sequential":  the learner advances as a function of improving his or her communicative abilities rather than learning new grammatical structures. For reference, however, CALA has prepared a listing of the grammar points and competencies that naturally occur through communication in each course.

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How much will I learn at the CALA Language Institute?

The CALA approach to learning languages focuses on high-frequency vocabulary—the words, phrases, expressions, and grammar that you are most likely to encounter in day-to-day life.  Because we go narrow-and-deep with this vocabulary—exposing you to it using multiple memory pathways in the brain and using it in multiple contexts—we are able to build your speaking and listening fluency in an accelerated way. 

CALA’s success is reflected in the nationally standardized test scores of its participants, which have been published in the International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.  After taking Parts 1 and 2 of a language (German, French or Spanish), for example, CALA participants routinely place out of 1-4 semesters of college-level language classes on the Brigham-Young WebCAPE placement test offered in the MTSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.  In addition, on the National Spanish Exam, statistically significant data demonstrate that CALA participants enjoy per/hour gains in the language on the order of six times those of high school students from across the nation.

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Do your classes require homework or other work outside of class?

No.  CALA has a number of resources that it recommends to language learners for enrichment, but there is no expectation that participants attending the CALA Language Institute do any work outside of class.  If you would like to practice outside of class you will have activities for that purpose, but it is not necessary for your full enjoyment and benefit in the class. 

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What are your teacher training workshops like?

CALA has been approached by many school systems interested in providing in-service training to their foreign language and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.  This training can be delivered on-site and centers on delivery of comprehensible input in the target language and creation of curricula based on principles of how the brain learns best.  More detail on customized in-service workshops is available under “Teachers” on the Services tab of this website.  In addition to special in-service workshops for educators, CALA offers a methodology workshop during its summer CALA Language Institute.  Teachers can sign up for this course once it is available for selection among Our Classes.

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What are your yoga classes like?

CALA is pleased to offer classical Indian yoga to MTSU and the community.  These classes feature practices designed to activate the body, mind, and energy of the participant in a way that promotes holistic health and well-being.  The skills learned in class can be practiced at home to continue mental and physical development as a means of bringing balance and focus into life.  For a more in-depth look at our yoga classes, feel free to view videos and read testimonials from our instructor’s page: Walker Purcell.

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When do you offer classes?

Our biggest event each year is the summer CALA Language Institute, with both day and evening classes offered May – August.  During the summer, we typically offer our entire slate of languages.   We also offer languages classes intermittently throughout the year—usually at times corresponding with class breaks in the MTSU calendar [e.g., winter break (January) or spring break (March)]. 

Teacher training workshops are customized for the audience and the schedule and duration of these workshops are determined in consultation with the interested party.

Yoga classes are typically offered once a month on weekends throughout the year.  You can see our current offerings by going to Our Classes.

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How can I know when classes are available?

You can always check Our Classes on our website to see our latest offerings.  An even better way, however, is to request that we add your email address to our distribution list.  That way, you’ll receive a notification each time we add classes to the schedule.  To take advantage of this service, you can simply send the request “Add Me” to (or write us more, if you want!).

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How long are your classes?

Every language class (Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3) takes place in an accelerated 5-day format:  Monday-Friday, 3.5 hours/day (*5 days = 17.5 hours of instruction). 

Teacher training classes vary depending on the needs of the learners, but we recommend at least two full days (12 hours) to both explore and receive coaching on our two primary tools for delivering comprehensible input:  TPR (Total Physical Response) and TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).

Yoga classes vary in duration.  Some take place in either the morning or afternoon of a single day; others take place over two days.  Complete details can be found in the general information presented on Our Classes page.

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Where are your classes held?

Almost all CALA language and yoga classes are held in the MTSU Honors College.  If ever there is an exception, participants are made clear to participants well in advance.  For thorough directions to the MTSU Honors College, please visit our Contact Us page.

Teacher training workshops can be held either at the MTSU Honors College or at a location provided by the participating institution.

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How much are your classes?

The first language class you take is $300.  Any subsequent language class is only $175.  So, you can take Part 1 and Part 2 of a language (this is what most participants do) for only $475.  Special discounts are available to MTSU affiliates, high school students, and K-12 teachers.  Yoga classes vary in price, depending on the duration of the course.  You can view all prices on Our Classes page.

Note:  After taking Parts 1 and 2 of a language (German, French or Spanish), CALA participants routinely place out of 1-4 semesters of college-level language classes on a placement test offered in the MTSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

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Is there financial aid available to attend CALA classes?

Although traditional financial aid cannot be applied to attend CALA courses because they do not confer credit directly, CALA has partnered with local agencies, benefactors, and university departments to make funding available for deserving participants. For a listing of these opportunities and application details, please visit our Scholarships page.

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What do I do if I can’t remember my MTSU M#?

To take advantage of discounts offered to MTSU faculty, staff, alumni, and students, the participant will be asked for his or her MTSU M# on registration.  In the event that this number is not known to the participant, he or she can contact CALA (which has access to the MTSU system) to retrieve it.

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How do I sign up for classes?

It is easy to sign up for a class.  Simply click the course in which you are interested on Our Classes, and you will be redirected to MTSU’s secure online Marketplace to register.  Registration is straightforward, but you are welcome to contact us at if you have any questions or difficulties along the way.

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What will I need in class?

If taking a language at the CALA Language Institute, you might bring a few sheets of paper and something to write with.  In class, we will provide you a “participant guide”—a (fun) textbook/manual that we developed to accompany the class and anything else you might need.

For yoga classes, nothing is needed other than comfortable clothing.  As with all CALA classes, orientation details are sent to participants before the class begins.

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Can I get college or in-service credit for any of your programs?

Our programs do not confer college credit directly. However, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) offers a free placement test, and CALA courses may help you test out of and receive credit for college-level langauge courses at MTSU through this test. For complete details, please consult the MTSU Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students attending other universities should contact their university to see whether it offers a similar option.

At the conclusion of each course, CALA offers teachers the option of receiving a certificate attesting to the hours spent in training. Some schools and districts award in-service training upon presentation of this certificate. Please consult with your school officials to see whether you can receive in-service credit by attending CALA courses.

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Do you offer a teacher certification program?

Yes.  Our certification program attests to the participant’s having completed 140 instructive/practicum hours in comprehensible input methods such as Total Physical Response (TPR) and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).  This certification is entirely distinct from other foreign language teaching certifications, such as Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  More detail can be found on our Teacher Certification and Resources page.

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