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?

Have you ever been to summer camp? Young and old often say our language classes are a lot like summer camp because they are just so much FUN! You’re constantly moving around, playing games, singing songs, and creating stories. And it’s all happening in the new language that you’re learning! We design our classes this way on purpose. You see, research shows that having fun is one of the best ways to learn something new.

We give you the input, and your brain does the work of learning and understanding the language. It’s a lot like when you learned your first language as a child. In fact, many students report that they are blissfully unaware of their learning—that they just come and have fun. The next thing they know, 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 has offered as many as ten (10) languages over the years, including: 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 is not like the structure seen in most university curricula. CALA courses foster a "whole language" classroom environment. That means students and the instructor constantly communicate with each other in real time. CALA's expertise is making sure that, throughout this interaction, the student comprehends the information and that are brain-based. In other words, we design our classes in a way that takes advantage of your brain’s natural ability to acquire and learn a language.  

With each successive part of instruction. the student reinforces and strengthens the language already learned from the class. So, the structure of the class is "continuous" rather than "sequential.” That means that the student advances through the class by quickly improving communicative skills instead of learning new grammar structures. For reference, CALA has created a list 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. We go narrow-and-deep with this vocabulary. That means we expose you to it using multiple memory pathways in the brain and using it in multiple contexts. Using these techniques, we are able to build your speaking and listening fluency in an accelerated way. 

Our success with this approach shows in the nationally standardized test scores of our students. These 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 regularly test out of 1-4 semesters of college-level language classes on the Brigham-Young WebCAPE placement test offered in the MTSU Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Furthermore, data from the National Spanish Exam shows that CALA students learn Spanish six times faster than high school Spanish students across the nation. 

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

No. CALA has several resources that we recommend for language learners to enhance their class experience. However, there is no expectation that participants do any work outside of class. If you would like to practice outside of class, we will have activities for that purpose. But it isn’t required to fully benefit from and enjoy 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 our Summer 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?

Based on current research about the impact of yoga on the system, CALA is pleased to offer classical yoga to MTSU and the community. Our classes and workshops are taught by an instructor who was certified in India. It is perfect for those who want to learn yoga for weight loss, increased energy, stress management, and overall better health. They also appeal to those who want to practice mindfulness. Our classes feature practices designed to activate your body, mind, and energy in a way that promotes holistic health and well-being. The skills you learn in class can be practiced at home on your own. Doing so will continue your mental and physical development as a means of bringing balance and focus into your life. For a more in-depth look at our yoga classes, feel free to view videos and read testimonials from our instructor’s page: Rishi Purcell.

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When do you offer classes?

CALA’s biggest event each year is the Summer Language Institute, with both day and evening classes offered May – August. During the summer, we typically offer our entire set of languages. We also offer language classes at various times throughout the year—usually at times that correspond with class breaks in the MTSU calendar. For example, winter break in January or spring break in March.  

Teacher training workshops are customized for the audience. We work with the interested party to determine the timing and duration of these workshops. 

Yoga classes or workshops are typically offered once a twice per month, usually the 3rd and 4th weekends all throughout the year.  Learn more about our current offerings by going to Our Classes.

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How can I know when classes are available?

You can always check the schedule on the Our Classes tab on our website to find the latest offerings. But the best way is to send us a request to 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! We always love to hear from you and are eager to answer questions).

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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 (x 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). This allows you the time 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 (1/2 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, we will always make sure you are aware well in advance. For thorough directions to the MTSU Honors College, please visit our Contact Us page.

We are available to conduct on-site corporate language training programs. We can also make similar arrangements for churches, schools and school boards, homeschooling groups, and other community venues. 

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 $185. So, you can take Part 1 and Part 2 of a language (this is what most participants do) for only $475. We offer special discounts for MTSU students and 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 students regularly place out of 1-4 semesters of college-level language classes on a placement test offered in the MTSU Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

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Is there financial aid available to attend CALA classes?

Traditional student financial aid cannot be applied to attend CALA courses because they do not confer credit directly. However, we have 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# upon registration. If you do not know your number, 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 go to the Our Classes page and click on the course you are interested in. You will be redirected to MTSU’s secure online Marketplace to register. Registration is very simple and easy to understand, 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 you are taking a language class with us, you might bring a few sheets of paper and something to write with. In class, we will provide you with a “Participant Guide.” This is a fun textbook/manual that we created specifically for 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. CALA courses may help you test out of a college course, but to get credit for the classes you test out of at MTSU, you are required to register with MTSU and take the following course.  For complete details, please consult the MTSU Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Students attending other universities should contact their university to see whether it offers a similar option.

After each language 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 details can be found on our Teacher Certification and Resources page.

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