Northwest Language Academy


Language of Food: Iu Mien

April 5, 2014

The NWLA Cultural Center presents a rare opportunity to hear the stories of the remarkable Iu Mien people in the latest installment of our popular Language of Food Series, in collaboration with the Iu Mien American Association of Seattle.

The Iu Mien have been described as “slow-motion nomads.” Their complex story began over a thousand years ago in the hills of China, and brought them through many trials to Laos, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia, and then to the Pacific Northwest in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Like many refugees who’ve arrived in the United States before and since, the Iu Mien faced immediate challenges brought on by a new language and set of social norms. Unlike the Lao, Vietnamese, and Cambodian refugees who resettled in the U.S. during the same period in the 1980s though, the Iu Mien arrived here with no written language, no exposure to formal education, and little experience with wage labor. Their former self-sufficiency has been tested in the contemporary American economy, but the Iu Mien have retained and nurtured an important aspect of their culture: collective or group-oriented action. Major events including births, weddings, funerals, and New Year celebrations provide opportunity for the Iu Mien community to meet and create and maintain a shared ethnic identity. Subsistence cultivation of herbs and vegetables is also important for an older generation of Iu Mien, who seek to maintain their knowledge and skills in a country that values youth and modernity.

The evening event will feature the talents of the Young Mien Dancers, who will perform a set of “hand-flipping” dances in costume, storytelling by Iu Mien elder Koi Saephan, traditional music and chant, and much more. Prior to the performances, a banquet of Iu Mien cuisine will be served, including healthy traditional dishes like soy noodle salad, mustard greens, and chicken ginger soup. Cost is $65, and advance registration is recommended. NWLA also welcomes work exchange and volunteers in various capacities; please inquire.

Prior to the evening celebration, join us from 2:00pm to 5:00pm on the 5th for a cooking class on the basics of Iu Mien cuisine. Mien food is usually passed down from one generation to the next, and so opportunities for outsiders to learn its secrets are rare. Learn the techniques to make fermented greens, Mien egg rolls, coconut tapioca, and more. Participants will receive a cookbook with recipes from the instructors. Pre-registration required. Cost is $35 dollars.

The event will be held at the NWLA Cultural Center in Langley, on Whidbey Island.  Lodging for the event is available at the Cultural Center’s comfortable Guesthouse, which features in-room fireplaces and Jacuzzi baths on three acres of landscaped grounds just minutes from downtown Langley. Package pricing may be arranged for lodging and the event. Please inquire.

Reserve you place NOW, limited seating available. Contact our office at 360-321-2101 or, or signup via Paypal below:

Register for Language of Food, Iu Mien here:

Total: $65


La Belle Saison, Sud de France: French Language Weekend Immersion

April 26 & 27, 2014

Cost: $198 (includes meals)

Immerse yourself in two days of concentrated language and culture at the NWLA Cultural Center.

This dynamic French Immersion Weekend will focus on the beautiful season of spring and the cultural life, traditions, specialty foods, and festivals that make the South of France and its three principle regions—Provence, Languedoc, and Pays Basque—so unique and inviting.

The weekend includes twelve hours of French language instruction led by Greta D’Amico, emphasizing practical conversation skills complemented by cultural instruction. Expect a lively, interactive program, with opportunities to learn new vocabulary, improve comprehension, and get tips on travel. Together we will learn to shop at local pleine-air markets and prepare and taste some of the seasonal specialty foods of each region. The program includes local activities, lore, songs, artistic life, and much more!

Students of all levels are welcome; we work one-on-one with participants to ensure that our programs meet your needs.

Contact NWLA at 360-321-2101, email:, or use the Paypal button below to register.

For off-island participants, we offer overnight accommodation in our Cultural Center Guesthouse. All six of our guest rooms have a cozy comfort of their own, with private bath, fireplaces, and a comfortable seating area. The two largest suites also include a double Jacuzzi whirlpool tub and private patio. Discounts are available for program participants; please inquire.

Register for La Belle Saison, Sud de France:

Total: $198


Japanese Pruning Workshop and Luncheon
with Japanese Master Gardener Masa Mizuno

May 3, 2014

NWLA is honored to welcome back revered Japanese Master Gardener Masa Mizuno for a pruning workshop at a beautiful private residence in the Headlands. The event includes a Q &A, tours of the gardens, followed by an authentic Japanese lunch.

As director of Portland's Japanese Garden, Osaka native Masa Mizuno has installed public and private Japanese gardens around the world.

$75 fee includes workshop and luncheon. All proceeds benefit the NWLA scholarship fund.

For more information, or to register, contact our front desk at 321-2101 or email:

Register online for the Pruning Workshop and Luncheon here:

Total: $75


Italian Language Weekend Intensive

May 3 & 4, 2014

Immerse yourself in two days of concentrated language and culture at the stunning NWLA Cultural Center.

Taught by Roberta Tauriello Torgerson of Percorso Italiano, the weekend will include 12 hours of language and cultural activities. Expect a lively, interactive program, with many opportunities to learn new vocabulary, improve comprehension and conversational skills, get "insider" information about travel, as well as have quite a bit of FUN! Cooking, learning games, watching movie clips and walks outside are part of the program. Students of all levels are welcome! We work one on one with you to insure that our programs meet your needs.

Percorso Italiano is a Seattle based language school, featuring a new and fun-filled way to learn the Italian language from Italian natives. “Percorso italiano” means “Italian journey,” and classes take students on a life-enriching journey via the Italian language.

Overnight lodging available on site and near by at a lovely beach house. Reserve early!!

$198 for the whole weekend. Includes meals.

Volunteer and work exchange available - please inquire soon!

To register, please contact our front desk at 321-2101 or email:

Register online for the Italian Immersion Weekend:

Total: $198


Weekly Chat Groups,
Now in Six Languages!

Chinese: Wednesday 5:30pm - 6:30pm

French: Tuesdays, 6:00pm-7:00pm

German: Mondays, 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Italian: Wednesdays 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Russian: Fridays 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Spanish: Wednesdays 7:00pm - 8:00pm

Drop in when you can to join a lively group of fellow language lovers. This is a wonderful opportunity to practice the language you would like to improve. Don't worry if you speak a little, or even a lot, all levels are welcome! Guided by a native speaker, you are sure to progress, while having fun in a relaxed environment. Light refreshments are typically served.

For more information, contact our front desk at 321-2101 or email:

Ashingdon Manor

Lodging At The NWLA Cultural Center Guesthouse

The NWLA Cultural Center is located on three acres of beautifully landscaped grounds just minutes from downtown Langley. With ample room to rest and relax, it is an ideal setting for a rejuvenating getaway or to host celebrations, meetings and workshops. The Center features large, comfortable meeting spaces, a spacious kitchen and dining area, 6 luxurious guest rooms with a cozy comfort all their own. Each offers a private, ensuite bath and fireplace. The two largest suites include double Jacuzzi whirlpool tubs and private patios. To book a room, or for more information, contact NWLA today at, or 360-321-2101.