February 10, 2003 - The Rassias Foundation: John A. Rassias honored by Peace Corps for developing innovative and highly effective approach to teaching languages

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 10:06 am: Edit Post

John A. Rassias honored by Peace Corps for developing innovative and highly effective approach to teaching languages

John A. Rassias honored by Peace Corps for developing innovative and highly effective approach to teaching languages

John A. Rassias, the William R. Kenan Professor and Chair of the Department of French and Italian of Dartmouth College, is the developer of an innovative and highly effective approach to teaching languages, known as the Rassias Method• or the Dartmouth Intensive Language Model.

A native of Manchester, NH, Professor Rassias graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport, and, as a Fulbright scholar, studied at the Université de Dijon in France, where he received his doctorate. He also did research at the Sorbonne, studied French drama, and acted in Paris.

•The Method®•

The Method includes some fifty dramatic techniques that banish inhibitions, which retard the acquisition of foreign languages. It has been adopted by language teachers in hundreds of colleges, universities, and high schools in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and is currently being used for instruction in 180 languages. Professor Rassias has gone far beyond the classroom in expanding and sharing his innovative approach to the instruction of language and culture.

•At Dartmouth College•

He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1965, and adapted the Rassias Method to a new academic community in 1967. Since his approach has been utilized by all language departments (including Chinese, French, German, Modern Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish), the number of foreign language majors has steadily increased. This statistic stands out as a startling reversal of the national trend in recent years of declining enrollments in foreign language courses. Teachers in other colleges introducing the Rassias Method report similar renewals of interest.

Rassias is a founder and former Director of Dartmouth's Language Study Abroad program, whereby Dartmouth students may complete their language requirements in a foreign country in the target language. Under the Rassias Method, students learn enough of a foreign language in two ten-week terms to be functional and go abroad for further accelerated study in the LSA programs. For several years, he was Director of Dartmouth's Foreign Study program aimed at students with a strong proficiency in a foreign language who wish to further their studies abroad.

•The Rassias Foundation•

In addition, Professor Rassias is the President of the Rassias Foundation at Dartmouth College. The purpose of the Foundation is to support efforts in Hanover and beyond to revitalize foreign language teaching while using the resources of the vast network developed through the Rassias Method. In this capacity, he conducts methodology workshops in the United States and abroad, predominately for teachers of second languages. These one- to five- day workshops are held in English with teachers and professors of all languages and at all levels of instruction.

The Foundation also offers special ten- to twelve- day intensive language and culture courses in various languages at Dartmouth to meet specific language requests. Some of these accelerated courses have included Spanish for New York City Transit Police; English as a Second Language for Japanese students; French for the northern Border Patrol; German for IBM executives; Spanish and English for Citibank executives; Spanish for municipal and federal law enforcement agencies, cross cultural French and English language instruction to American and French executives of Groupe Schneider and Square D, Russian to United States Army officers. Longer courses are also available, and have included a six-week course in English as a Second language for Japanese teachers, and a six-week program in French for American students attending French medical schools, an eight-week program in English as a Second Language for Russian students from Moscow.

Rassias directs the successful Accelerated Language Programs (ALPs) at Dartmouth. These courses include ten days of intensive learning through his methods. Courses in American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, English as a Second Language (ESL), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Modern Greek, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish have been offered. The system can also accommodate groups of ten who would study any language of their choice.

•The Peace Corps•

In 1964, he began a long relationship with the Peace Corps language programs, serving as Director of Language Programs at Dartmouth, consultant and trouble-shooter for Peace Corps programs throughout the world, and Director of the first pilot program of languages for the Peace Corps in Africa.

In October 1996, the United States Peace Corps honored Professor Rassias for his pioneer work in developing their language and language teacher training program, citing the fact that 145,000 volunteers learned to converse in 180 languages through his methods.

•Selected Workshops in the United States•

Since 1967, he has been conducting workshops for students employed in the language teaching programs at Dartmouth College at the beginning of each term. His training methods and courses have led many undergraduates to enter the field of teaching.

In 1989 he accepted an invitation from the Actors’ Equity to train actors in the craft of teaching in order to meet the demand for teachers of English as a Second Language in the New York area. Professor Rassias offers two such workshops per year in New York, and has thus far trained some 450 actor-teachers. The Equity workshops are on-going and are now also being expanded to Chicago and Los Angeles.

From 1992-1996 he worked with the State Board of Education in Illinois, presenting teacher workshops for teachers of all languages and levels from throughout the state. In addition, he was responsible for a new program in Illinois (Project Roll-up), whose mission is to make language teaching an integral part of school curricula. In 1993, Professor Rassias directed a pilot language immersion program with the Frederick Douglass Academy, an inner-city public school in New York, for instruction in French. The Douglass Project is on-going.

•Selected Workshops Abroad•

Professor Rassias spent three months in the People's Republic of China as a guest of Peking University from January to March 1987. He conducted workshops at Peking University for several hundred teachers of English as a Second Language selected from all levels of language instruction throughout China. He also lectured to teachers in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. John Rassias developed extensive materials in English for his Chinese colleagues. He was also the subject of a film about education in China and his training methods. The film ("Rassias in China") was partially funded by IBM, the Rockefeller Foundation, and AMPEX, and was shown on national Public Broadcasting System in the fall of 1992. In 1993, the “China” film received the Golden Eagle, the Hugo, and the Angel awards.

In November and December of 1996, the United States Information Agency in Turkey worked with Professor Rassias on a workshop tour for Turkish and American teachers of second languages. He returned in November 1997 to work with USIA on follow-through workshops. This project culminated in an international workshop sponsored by the U.S. Embassies in Sofia, Ankara, and Athens. The workshop was held in Istanbul with teachers and administrators from Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, and the United States, “to acquaint teachers with the philosophy of teaching and techniques for effective instruction, as well as build bridges for professional and personal communication between teachers and institutions among four countries.”

•Selected Grants•

Starting in l968, Professor Rassias was able to concentrate on defining and refining the concepts and practices involved in his Method under grants from the EXXON Education Foundation. As the model proved its effectiveness at Dartmouth, the EXXON Foundation IMPACT program singled out the Rassias program as an “educational innovation of demonstrated merit,” and underwrote a series of language teaching workshops in 1975, providing financial support for thirty-eight college and university language teachers to adopt the Rassias Method at their respective colleges and universities.

Professor Rassias also received a grant from the Sloan Foundation to develop ideas for an interactive language laboratory. In 1987, Rassias was awarded a grant from the Charles A. Dana Foundation for the improvement of language instruction nationwide over a six-year period. He directed teams of professors in a collaborative program made up of Dartmouth colleagues and visiting scholars from four-year liberal arts colleges in research and development in three areas: pedagogy and pedagogical materials, cultural expressions (linguistic as well as gestural), and computer-based instruction.

•Selected Honors•

In 1968, Professor Rassias was selected by the Student Government at Dartmouth as the first Arthur Wilson Outstanding Teacher Award. In 1971 he was further honored as one of ten teachers in the United States to receive the E. Harris Harbison Award for Gifted Teaching by the Danforth Foundation. He has also been cited by the government of France with its Palmes Académiques for "originality in instruction and the success of the enterprise."

Since 1971 he has received numerous awards for teaching, along with honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut), Alma College (Michigan), Washington University (Missouri), Plymouth State College (New Hampshire), University of Detroit (Michigan), Hampden-Sydney (Virginia), Moravian College (Pennsylvania), and Pine Manor College (Massachusetts). He was elected to honorary membership in the Alpha Chapter (Dartmouth College) of Phi Beta Kappa. He was a recipient of Dartmouth College's Inaugural President's Medal for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in 1991. Also from Dartmouth, he received the Robert A. Fish 1918 Memorial Prize in Outstanding Teaching awarded by the Dean of the Faculty.

In 1978, Professor Rassias, a dynamic and creative teacher, was the only language teacher appointed to President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies. During his time on the Commission, Professor Rassias served as Chair of the Task Force on Foreign Language. He authored the draft for the final report on language calling for the development of a national policy with guidelines for reviving foreign language study in the section entitled "No Longer Foreign; No Longer Alien," in the Report to the President, Strength Through Wisdom, November 1979.

In 1994, he was appointed to the Commission of the Modern Language Association of America on the study of service in the profession. In 1995, He was also elected to the Division of the Teaching of Literature of the Modern Language Association, which he chaired in 1998.

•Other Activities•

He completed an 11-hour series of televised courses ("Contact French") in France for the CBS/FOX company in 1982. The series is being distributed by the Encyclopedia Britannica.

In the fall of 1994, Professor Rassias wrote, produced, directed, and acted in a play "CalËche, or Love in the Eighteenth Century" in Irvington, NY.

Professor Rassias is a consultant to the language component of the High Intensity Drug Traffic Area at Federal Government offices in Miami, FL

In 1998, he was named Chair of the Archbishop's Commission on the Study of Greek language and Hellenic Culture in the Greek Orthodox communities in the United States. The Commission issued its report (The Future of the Greek Language and Culture in the United States: Survival in the Diaspora) in May 1999. Professor Rassias was subsequently named Chair of the Implementation Committee to oversee the 73 recommendations made. Also in 1999, Professor Rassias won a statewide award for teaching and was named the New Hampshire Professor of the year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

He is the author of numerous articles; the publisher of The Ram's Horn (a journal for teachers of language and culture) and "The Rassias Connection" (a newsletter of the Rassias Foundation), as well as the author of three text books in French and Greek. He is completing The Unzipped Mind, a book covering different modes of communication, a philosophy of teaching, and comparisons with historical and mythological exemplars.

Professor Rassias lectures throughout the world to various companies and organizations. Topic titles range from “Communication in a Perilous World,” “One Nation Divided by One Language,” Love in Eighteenth Century France,” to “Greek Mythology: Our Past, Present, and Future.”

•For More Information•

Professor Rassias is the subject of more than 400 articles in regional, national and international press, including Le Figaro Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, Parade Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, London Times, Deutsche Allegemeine Zeitung, Beijing Review (China), Taxidromo (Greece), Athens Daily. He has also appeared on numerous national and international television programs, including "60 Minutes," "Good Morning America." "The David Brinkley Evening Magazine," "The Charles Kuralt Show," "Four Corners" (Australian Broadcasting Company), and “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Interests - Linguistics; Special Interests - Language Teaching



By Sharon Menzies on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 2:48 am: Edit Post

We are trying to find a book to buy or a workbook with the 50 techniques of the Rassias system. My husband and I are going to teach English in China this year and saw his movie using his techniques. Sincerely,

By robert hume on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 4:38 pm: Edit Post

I am beginning to teach English as a second language to Japanese students and would like information on the Rassias methods to help me do so. Thank you, robert hume

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