At the onset, students sign a pledge that they will not speak a word of English until after the closing ceremony. Once released from this pledge, they can then speak English . . . if they feel so inclined. Few do! 

Paul R. (Dick) Kuettner
Program Coordinator


Welcome to the the official website for the Virginia Governor’s French Language Academy. Here you will find important program information, like course descriptions, staff and faculty bio’s, and even general, daily schedules. While exploring this site, please feel free to enjoy several blog posts from les académiciens themselves!


Students pose with their Language Mentors (RA’s) for a “Family” picture
(French Academy 2019)

At the beginning, I must admit that the virtual program posed some barriers – not in the technological sense, but in the fosterage of community and friendship. However, as the teachers and RAs encouraged (or required) us to speak, not only did I improve my French, but it presented me with a medium of connecting and socializing with my peers.

– Student, French Academy 2021 (Virtual)

History and Overview

The Virginia Governor’s World Language Academies originated in 1986 with the creation of the French Language Academy. The German and Spanish Academies began the following year. All three full-immersion programs aim to provide an exemplary experience in world language education. Since 2011, Washington and Lee University has hosted L’Académie Française, welcoming aspiring linguists to its three-week program where opportunities for language and culture development abound as part of the daily routine.

For the duration of the program, the Commonwealth’s most motivated and talented world language students participate in intense language and culture study, while being required to only speak, read, write and listen to French. The select students are local, but the faculty and staff come with backgrounds from all parts of the world. From morning to evening, students participate in a variety of activities and classes which promote the varied target language cultures and language forms.

Looking for more information?
Please visit the VDOE’s World Language Academies website.


Students prepare peach lemonade to sell at International Fair
(French Academy 2019)

In the News

“W&L to Host Three Virginia Governor’s Language Academies”
(Tschiggfrie, 2011)

“Virginia Governor’s Language Academies Begin at W&L”
(Cline, 2012)

“No Cells, No iPods, No English: Governor’s Language Academies at W&L”
(Hanna, 2013)

“No English Allowed!”
(Hausman, 2013)

“W&L to Continue Hosting the Virginia Governor’s Foreign Language Academies”
(Sackett, 2016)

“Language Academies Adjust to Virtual Summer”
(Franklin, 2020)


Students prepare content for their digital media
(French Academy 2019)

“Voices of the Academy”

Among the many other extra and co-curricular activities offered during the three-week program, the Virginia Governor’s World Language Academies have regular radio shows.

Topics of discussion are varied, but many times broadcasts include food, amusements, fitness, cooking, books worth reading, health, musical artists, and maybe a special topic this year … online full-immersion fatigue.

These broadcasts are student-created with assistance from a faculty member and language mentor for each academy. Broadcasts are made possible through Washington and Lee University Radio (WLUR).

The purpose of this exercise in broadcasting is to develop writing and speaking skills, using the various steps of brainstorming, drafting, finalizing copy, with practice in diction and voice projection. An interesting feature about these informative broadcasts is experiencing student enthusiasm for world languages as students make visible progress in the four skills of language learning.

Click the play button to hear an episode of the 2021 Academies’ radio show broadcast. It’s worth the listen!