Intercontinental Foreign Language Program at Harvard Square

Since the beginning of this year, I have been taking foreign language classes at Intercontinental Foreign Language Program at Harvard Square with Lee Riethmiller.

The Intercontinental Foreign Language Program is the foremost proponent of SIMULTANEOUS LANGUAGE LEARNING in the United States. In an Internet-linked & multicultural workplace, no one can afford to be monolingual and no one has the time for conventional – one at a time – serial language learning.

Our nationally-renowned techniques were developed by our President, Lee K. Riethmiller, first during his graduate study at Harvard and later as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain.

It is very interesting. You learn multiple languages at the same time. Going through one session you will jump back and forth between the different languages… after a few minutes of reciting some Italian, Lee may say “en français” and then *bam* you’re in French.

Currently I am taking a “TriLingual 3″™ of

  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish

But I am so addicted that I plan on learning as many of the one hundred and fifteen courses offered as I can.

I am particularly interested in doing this for a few reason:

  1. I wish to travel the majority of the world in my lifetime and would like to be able to speak with people as a travel.
  2. I’d like to have access to the wisdom of all modern people across the world without the overhead and lag of waiting on a translation.
  3. I’d like to experience the beauty of Dante’s Commedia in its natural state, as well as other great poets and philosophers of the past. I want to get rid of the middle men.

As part of my practice, I’m writing a poem or short piece of writing in one of the languages every day. If you speak one of the languages I’m learning and notice a mistake, I would very happy to hear about it. (The relevant category on my blog.)

Other bloggers have experienced Lee’s style.

From John Sequeira in his use Perl blog:

Lee has a very unique approach to foreign language instruction in several respects. He believes that you learn languages faster and with better recall if you study multiple languages concurrently. He never really said why, but my oversimplified explanation is that this is similar to the better recall/comprehension claims of speed reading. There are other reasons why this makes sense from a mnemonics perspective, and it has the added benefit of being very appealing from a student perspective (learn more in less time).

In addition to encouraging you to take multiple languages simultaneously (you can choose from about 20 that Lee teaches), he also eschews the standard grammar-based approach. Instead, he writes interactive question and answer type scripts that resemble beat poetry — quite absurb. You don’t do ‘going to the movies’ or ‘in the kitchen’ vocabulary fests. Instead, you converse with mushrooms, cheese-boys, italian bees and strawberry girls, and each verb tense you memorize is associated with a flavor of ice cream. Occasionally the scripts will overlap with some 60s pop song, and Lee will break into song.

And, Carl Blesius is who first pointed the program out to me.

They Can’t

Baby girl, they can’t take our love away,
I dream about it at night!

la Fille bébé, ils ne enlevent pas notre amour
J’en rêve la nuit!

Chica bebé, no qiutan nuestro amor
¡Sueño con ella por la noche!

Ragazza bebé, non portano via nostro amore
La sogno di notte!


Comment: The word I used for “baby” is the word for a small children, presumably there a word with the connotation of “baby girl” in English in each of these languages, but my dictionaries are very vague when it comes to the differences between synonyms.

Crystal’s version:

Ragazzina, non possono portare via l’amore nostro
Ce ne sogno di notte!