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 Spanish 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 las y los estudiantes themselves!

I thought that this program was amazing. At the beginning of the program, I was very unsure how I would do in a full immersion environment, virtual or not, because I did not think I was good enough to speak or understand Spanish. However, this program really helped me, because at the end of the week I was able to speak with much more fluency and I did not have any problem at all understanding the professors during our classes. The classes were very fun but very informative as well. Although this program was virtual, I really took a lot away from it and I enjoyed every bit of the program.

– Student, Spanish 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 La Academia Española, 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 Spanish. 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? Interested in applying?
Please visit the VDOE’s World Language Academies website.

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 show off their “orgullo” before a match of “fútbol”
(Spanish Academy 2015)

“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!

The Spanish section begins 36 minutes and 48 seconds into the recording.