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INTENSIVE INSTITUTE FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY SKILLS
Last updated: 18 February 2011

Please note that the Institute and the Academy described on this page do not yet exist. They represent what I conceive to be the ideal circumstances for the effective learning of foreign languages and language learning skills in the case of the Institute, and for overall language-based formative education in the case of the Academy. I have outlined them in detail and hereby make my plans public in the hopes that they may reach others interested in such pedagogical reforms and innovations. Please if you would like to contribute to their foundation.

Vision for an Intensive Institute for Foreign Language Study Skills
Testimonials of Students who Have Studied in this Intensive Fashion
Detailed Proposal for an Academy of Polyliteracy
     The Undergraduate Program
          The First Year Common Core
          The Western Civilization Language Track
          The Central Civilization Language Track
          The Indic Civilization Language Track
          The East-Asian Civilization Language Track



Vision for an Intensive Institute for Foreign Language Study Skills

The ideal Intensive Institute for Foreign Language Study Skills should have the overall atmosphere of a residential retreat center and thus be located in a tranquil and natural setting. At the end of their stay, students should leave with both improved abilities in a given language and with the study skills and materials they need in order to continue making progress on their own by following a study regimen individually tailored for them.

The Institute should be affiliated with a larger institution, such as a major university or a governmental language training agency that wishes to encourage learner autonomy and life-long learning abilities in its students. The focus on study skills and habits provided at the Institute would not only equip students to progress through formal classes more rapidly, but would also enable them to engage in the efficient self-study of lesser studied languages for which there is not enough demand to offer classes.

The core of the Institute would be a truly comprehensive language learning resource center housing the widest possible variety of language learning materials. The Institute would be staffed by both native speaking teachers and by polyglots, i.e., by experienced language learners. The teachers would provide conversational practice for the students, while the polyglots would serve as mentors to guide students in the selection and use of materials from the resource center, to instruct them in a variety of study techniques, and to help them in developing an efficient routine of study habits.

The basic course would be one month long. During this time, students would study a particular language intensively and at the same time they would be consciously guided in effective language learning skills and disciplined study habits. The goal would be to help them become better and more independent language learners so that they would acquire the transferable skill of being able to teach themselves languages. Thus, having attended this Institute, they would be better students and make more rapid progress in any other institutionalized program, and they could also engage in the independent autodidactic study of foreign languages.

As learning at the Institute would focus on study habits and self-teaching more than on classroom instruction, the program of study would be highly individualized. Some students might opt for 8 hours a day of pure language study, while others might opt for 4 hours a day of active language study interspersed with another 4 hours of conversational immersion and/or of the ingestion of bilingual media so as to foster cultural appreciation of the language being studied.

After the one-month program, provisions could be made for students who wished to stay for additional months so as to continue their language studies while taking advantage of the resource center and of the special intensive atmosphere of the Institute. For those who are unused to study, the environment of the Institute might rival that of a boot camp, but for those actively engaged in study already and who seek guidance and resources to make rapid progress, a stay at the Institute ought to be refreshing and invigorating. To that end, facilities should include health spa, diet, and exercise plans so that physical rejuvenation accompanies intellectual orientation.

The target students for the Institute would be anyone interested in developing efficient study skills and effective study habits, anyone independent minded enough to want not just to be trained in a language, but to acquire the ability to be their own best teacher. Students could range from home-schooled adolescents through businessmen and diplomats, but the most likely target group would be graduate students in the humanities or social sciences. Graduate students often complete their language coursework, then spend a year or more completing requirements for their major before beginning their dissertation research, the first stage of which consists of refreshing, improving, and expanding their language skills, often with no guidance whatsoever. At any major university there are probably at least a hundred such students at any given time. These students are likely to be able to leave their normal circumstances for a month at a time, and this not seasonally, but year round. Drawing on this world-wide pool, there should be no shortage of students for the Institute once it is established and well-known.





Testimonials of Students who Have Studied in this Intensive Fashion

~ Aidin Debaleh - Berlitz school teacher of Persian, Dari, Azerbaijani, and Turkish; worked on English and Arabic with Alexander 2006-2008

I met Alexander at New College of California just after he arrived from Lebanon and I signed up for his Middle Eastern Consciousness great books class. Because of his strong character and his multilingual abilities, I was encouraged to improve my own language and learn others. Although I was raised in a bilingual family in a multilingual society, later, when I tried to learn English and Arabic, it took me a long time to master, and I was frustrated during the learning process. Surprisingly, though, in the last two years I have become a language teacher at one of the world's top language schools:   knowing Alexander and being a student of his in his language classes enabled me to achieve this position.

The fact that Alexander speaks so many languages and, through his own learning process, has invented a unique system of language learning, removes the traditional pain and anxiety of learning a foreign language. With his method one not only learns how to speak another language, but one is also able to improve one's language reading skills. I can say that no matter what my level was or what experience I had had in language learning, studying with Alexander opened the door to learning all my foreign language more effectively.

From him I learned how to be self-correcting, how to take control of my own learning process, and how to create right habits and techniques. He also awakened my curiosity to learn different languages. Alexander is a very detail oriented and enthusiastic language coach, and he works individually with each student dealing with their own particular problems, regardless of their level. After learning his method, I can use it for my own life and for my career. After studying with Alexander, I improved enough and gained the courage to teach English and other languages to students from all over the world. His method can be applied universally, and it has been working very well in my own language classes.



~ Justin Syren, University of California, Berkeley Architecture student - Italian, Spring 2008:

I came to Alexander after two semesters of studying Italian every day in a college level program. After studying for two semesters, I was disappointed and frustrated with my general lack of progress in being able to converse and comprehend successfully in Italian. I had read an entire college textbook, learned the grammatical rules of the language, and developed a foundational vocabulary, yet I still lacked to ability to speak and comprehend confidently in Italian.

The shadowing technique was a new concept for me, strange and awkward at first. I had never had the confidence of speaking correctly or making the proper sounds, I could barely read and write, and certainly had no ability to actually converse in Italian. The concept of "walking and talking" may sound and look simple, but it took a lot of coaching and correcting from Alexander for me to get the technique down right. After a few weeks, however, he trained me to do it with the right speed, posture, and volume, and I began to feel a real change in my ability to make foreign sounds and for the first time felt comfortable doing it. This style of learning makes so much more sense to me now that I've really felt it work and as I begin to develop a real comprehension of Italian. I've come to understand that meaningful foreign language learning begins with developing the physical sound and the confidence of speaking, not the grammatical rules from an overpriced textbook.

When I met Alexander I was immediately drawn to his enthusiasm and zeal for foreign languages, as well as a greater and genuine desire for knowledge and intellectual pursuit. He possesses a unique energy that seems to rub off on those around him. Not only did he give me a second chance at learning Italian, but a newer, greater desire to learn and strive for knowledge.



~ Brenden Hamilton, Filmmaker, San Francisco, California - Spanish, Dine Navajo, and Japanese, 2007/2008

Alexander is a true scholar. When I began studying with him I quickly realized that, although considered well read by my peers, friends, and family, in fact, relative to Alexander, I was illiterate. But don't be intimidated: Alexander is a master teacher, the one you have been dreaming to find if you seek to learn the secrets of language learning:  he is intelligent, wise, funny, kind, compassionate, disciplined, and has a mighty enthusiasm for teaching.

Before meeting Alexander I had never heard of nor imagined the possibility of polyglottery, but I always had a love of languages and a thirst for knowledge. Speaking two or three languages was impressive to me, 10 to 20 languages was mind blowing. Alexander's language teaching has empowered me with the tools to be my own language teacher. Today doing my language walks by myself I can still hear Alexander coaching in the back of my mind. He teaches the way to practice language perfectly - holistically writing, reading, and speaking.

Alexander's teaching bestowed language consciousness upon me. He teaches Language with a capital L. Now I can hear and see the difference between Korean and Cantonese and I can appreciate the differences between Dine and Lakota. Thanks to my study with him I have come to truly enjoy listening out for the variety of sounds and intonations in different languages as I overhear them, and I thank him profusely for curing my deafness to this whole range of human experience.

Alexander's holistic approach to the study of language helped me to overcome the bashfulness and embarrassment of speaking a foreign language out loud in public, which, for me, was one of the hardest things to overcome. With the help of Alexander's teaching and methods I love nothing more then making a fool of myself attempting to speak foreign languages with native speakers! Because, as they say, "if you want to learn to swim, you gotta get wet!" I am very thankful for this lesson because engaging foreigners in their native tongue has only resulted in great laughs, good times, and new friendships for me.

I have never been a great student nor am I that bright, and yet with Alexander's methods and guidance, I have attained a working knowledge of Japanese writing, reading and speaking, I can speak some Dine, I have improved my spoken Spanish, and even my English, which I used to think I spoke fluently, but now I use his methods to expand my knowledge of my native tongue.

Studying with Alexander actually made me smarter. I come from an athletic background, and on our marathon language hikes along the wooded fire trails that he uses for his "classroom," Alexander would remind me often that the brain is a muscle. Learning a language is like sports conditioning - if you go to the gym and don't know what you are doing you will inevitably hurt yourself and not get any stronger, but if you get yourself a good coach to guide you, you will inevitably get faster and stronger. The study of language is no different. The better the coach, the better the results. Shadowing may look and sound easy - just walk and talk - but it is an exercise or a discipline like any other, and I had to practice it for weeks with Alexander, having him prompt and suggest and correct and nag me to do it right in order to get it down. Shadowing at the wrong pace and with bad posture and incorrect volume is still a lot more effective and a lot more fun than studying languages in any other way I have ever experienced, but I only began to make real progress, like 10x faster, after I got it down right, and I never could have done this without practicing it under his direct guidance.

I truly believe that Alexander has figured out the science of language learning. Studying with him empowered me, enlightened my mind. He can do this with you one on one, like he did with me, but he has even better ideas for a full-blown language academy. As I recall the general idea was to have a campus almost like a monastery on a hill, a retreat center where students of any age with a desire to do really serious language work could come and study.

We talked a lot about a program for college-age kids looking for a real tour of the humanities. The first year would be extremely but not excessively disciplined, like boot camp for scholars. Lots of language hikes, lots of reading and writing. Perhaps work in an organic garden for meals held together in a common dinning hall. Lectures from professors and research homework, the reading of great books, the first year would be mostly focused on ingraining self-discipline in the students. The second year would be more language, more lecture and discussion, and guided study in the fields of interest to the individual student. I always imagined a decent library and study area, but again very monk-like in the rooms and sleeping accommodation for the students.

It would be a place of great prestige desiring to form young men and women with skills to do real and noble work in academia and beyond. It would have an international feel, native languages wouldn't matter, in fact the more the variety, the better for all the students, because then they would have more opportunities for speaking practice on campus. It is a beautiful idea for a school. A new kind of school, molding students to be catalysts for a new renaissance - may it be!



~ Amanda Smiles, Social Worker, San Francisco, California - Spanish, Fall 2007:

When I read about Alexander's language class, I was eager to see if his method could work for me. I was terrified of losing all the progress I had made in Peru and, in truth, by the time I had started the class I had lost 70% of what I gained abroad. The method, however, worked wonders for me! Even after my first children's book I could feel Spanish swirling around in my head like it did in Peru. I would wake up with random Spanish words and phrases in my mind and find myself eagerly listening into others' conversations in Spanish (and understanding). Several Spanish books later I could see a marked improvement and when I went back to listen and read the first book I shadowed I could understand it in total. I retained what I had learned!

What makes this method so successful to me, and what I learned about my relationship with foreign languages, is that I need to learn a language in its living form... when I think back to the language learning methods that have worked for me, Alexander's method and being in Peru, I realize that both required me to see the language as a whole.

This class has been life-altering in the way I view and relate to learning languages. Not only have I learned a method that I can and will use throughout my life and language learning career, I also learned that it is okay not to learn by the methods taught in school. More importantly, I learned that it isn't me who is inept at learning the Spanish language, that it was simply the way I was learning. That's a comforting thought for someone who was ready to give up.




Detailed Proposal for a Full Program in Polyliteracy

Here follows a lengthy description of an ideal academy for the development of polyliteracy as an alternative to college education as I have been involved with it my whole adult life. By way of background, let me begin with some reflections upon my own ongoing education. As a student at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, I myself received the best quality education available in our day and age, but I know that I was shortchanged when compared to standards that prevailed in other days and ages. We live in an increasingly homogenized and "dumbed down" era, and I know that I, with all my years of study, would only make a run of the mill philologist if were transported back a century in time. I clearly recall feeling a constant sense of frustration as a student at the slighting of substance in favor of theory. I also resented the constant pressure to limit myself to a pigeonholed specialization. Compared to what I learned in the courses I took, I believe I learned far more from reading on my own in the magnificent libraries at those institutions. I clearly remember always wanting to transfer to a more satisfying program for learning, but never knowing where such an alternative might exist.

I was a student in the higher education system for a dozen years, and now I have been a professor for more than another dozen years, throughout which time I have felt the same continuous sense of wanting something better than the existing system. I must say that I have also always felt that I have only been called, only been allowed, to give a small pigeonholed portion of myself to my students -- and that portion is not the best that I have to give. The best I have to give is in the area of guidance in foreign language learning, and I am blocked from giving this guidance for a number of reasons. First and foremost, foreign languages in our day and age are not given anything like an appropriate role in the educational process. Indeed, I often justify my own admitted obsession with them as a counterbalance to the flabbergasting degree to which they are ignored elsewhere. My quest may be Quixotic, but I know that I am not all alone when I reread the comforting words that, in Il Nome de la Rosa, Umberto Eco twice articulates through Guglielmo da Baskerville: "Bacone aveva ragione a dire che la conquista del sapere passa attraverso la conoscenza delle lingue... ...Aveva ragione Bacone che il primo dovere del sapiente è studiare le lingue!" "[Fraciscan philosopher Roger] Bacon was right to say that the conquest of wisdom passes through the knowledge of languages…Bacon was right that the first duty of a scholar is to study languages!"

The current academic environment as I have experienced it on five continents is not in a healthy state, even in the best of institutions. For all I know, the hard sciences may be thriving, but the humanities are quite sick, for although they are inherently interrelated, they are everywhere fragmented into slots that are specialized to a degree that defies description. Under the current system, a "scholar" is defined as an expert in the specific narrow field in which he has been specifically trained and written his dissertation. He is not allowed to step outside of that field, but must rather defend it in polemical terms using the most current theoretical jargon for politically correct causes that all too often have little if anything to do with the actual subject matter. In this environment, foreign languages are seen either as a problematic to be hacked at by applied linguists or as mere tools to be acquired (often in the most nominal fashion) and used only on an individual case by case basis to get at "real" research matters. Not only is this the general mindset regarding foreign languages, but the overwhelming majority of college students are only involved in the educational process because it is now the normal rite of passage for their age group, and indeed it is a required step in job training; in the main, they have no interest in learning languages at all, and if they do, that interest is purely practical. The notion that a person cannot be considered educated without foreign language abilities seems quaint and old-fashioned, and the general desire to acquire those abilities for this reason is quite rare.

Over and against all of this, I have lived out and given substance to one of the most popular of buzz words, namely life-long-learning, by continuing to learn all of my life. Most people believe that it is simply impossible for anyone to learn many languages well, but every morning I can drink at will from the etymological wells of Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit, or Classical Chinese. Have I achieved the impossible? No, but I have proven that it is not impossible after all. Because I did this on my own, I floundered about quite a bit, but as a result, I believe I am now in a rare and privileged position to guide others to similar goals more effectively, that is, to provide guidance not only for those who want to learn lots of languages well and as the main focus of their scholarly energies, but also for those who want to balance a more moderate number of foreign languages with other intellectual pursuits.

I propose to do this by offering, as a more substantial alternative to any other program currently available, an educational curriculum consisting of what I call polyliteracy (the systematic study of various logical sequences of culturally significant languages) plus the use of these languages to read and discuss texts from a "great books" curriculum of classic texts. Students will read and discuss the world's most important texts several times and in several different contexts, not to speak of several different languages, throughout their stay, as the use of translations as an introduction to reading in the original is a time proven method. This caliber of text inherently deserves to be reread in any case, as only in this way can one get the most out of them. Given the importance of reading in such a curriculum, it seems only logical to combine it with a program of learning multiple languages so that the languages learned can be put to immediate use in the cogitation and digestion of the most significant class of ideas. Just as importantly, blending "great books" education with polyliteracy makes perfect sense because I have always maintained that knowing the "literature" that a language has given voice to is an inherent and integral part of knowing the language.

Returning to the primarily language-learning aspect of the program, I must stress that acquiring skills in specific languages would be the means, not the ends. The primary goal of the program is NOT to teach students the set of languages of their track; rather, it is to provide them with an optimal environment in which they can learn to teach themselves languages. One can get a great running jump from being taught languages well, but polyglottery is inherently an autodidactic enterprise. Thus, the main purpose of program would be to be a venue for students to learn the skills and gain the experience they need in order to continue to teach themselves languages throughout their lives after they leave the academy.


The Undergraduate Program

The program is based on a 4-year plan with time broken down according to a quarter-system analogous to that of a university program. Thus, every three months students will enter a new stage or cycle of each of 9 foci of study for that year. Each focus represents 1 hour of study time, so there is an expectation of residential full-time engagement requiring a commitment of 9 hours per day.

The first year would be deliberately intense in terms of formal study, and there would be high academic standards of grading and testing. In this first year, students would be evaluated based on:
a) their ability to make substantial progress in the simultaneous study of two different foreign languages;
b) their ability to absorb and digest challenging quantities of factual information;
c) their ability to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the important ideas and sensibilities contained in great texts; and
b) their ability to adapt to and function according to a disciplined and systematically regular division of the day into allotted time slots.

Only those who can do all of the above are suited to continue with the program. The objective of the rigor is to establish an institute where the collective energy of serious study would be of maximum intensity. Thus, frequent drop quizzes will be given in place of periodic announced larger exams, but the most important criterion for evaluation will be the accurate, detailed, monitored keeping of study logs.

Students who remain after this first year will choose from among four tracks or emphases of study: European, Central, Indic, and East-Asian languages. Other options and more flexible programs for the study of other languages and cultural circles will be reserved for the graduate degree programs. Even in the ideal planning stages, a practical problem raises its head here. Obviously, this program hopes to be international in its scope, drawing students from all over the world. Among the first growing pains for such an institution will clearly have to be the development of two sub-tracks within each track, e.g., European languages a) for those of European linguistic background, and European languages b) for those of non-European linguistic background, and likewise for each of the three other tracks. Thus, in sub-tracks a), students from any of the four major civilizations will be able to delve into their own tradition as they develop life-long language learning skills, while students with no previous knowledge in the exotic and difficult languages of their track in sub-tracks b) will be able to develop them here.

There will be increasingly little formal instruction per-se after the first year. Rather, resources for study will be available in abundance and variety, and there will be a correspondingly wide range of facilities in which to use them.

In the pedagogic role, faculty members who are polyglots will answer questions and model effective auto-didactic habits as they further their own more advanced linguistic studies. They will also be available for tutoring as needed, and lead seminar-like discussions of "great books" reading sequences of classic texts. However, in order for learning to take place, the burden will be on the students to observe, to explore, and to question rather than upon the professors to teach or instruct.

Although objective testing of factual material should not be necessary after the first year, a condition for remaining at the academy will be continued progress in the course of studies. Students are expected, after two years of study, to be able to begin to function on an intellectual level in their languages, and those who are unable to do this will not be able to continue on at the academy.

This undergraduate program can easily accommodate two different types of students. In the first place, the program is really envisioned for those whose appetite for learning languages is unlimited and who might thus aspire to continue on at the academy through the graduate level and even to remain beyond in increasingly responsible capacities as faculty for the next generation. However, the majority of students will probably be those who aspire to acquire a sold foundation in six or so core languages as a basic criterion for considering themselves respectfully well-educated as global citizens, but who thereafter will wish to go into various and sundry other fields.


The curriculum of study for the 1st common year will comprise:

1. English composition
2. French
3. German
4. Comparative Philology
5. Language Overviews or comparative systematic sampling of those languages of the world for which adequate study material is available
6. World History or diachronic comparison of both factual details and intellectual trends
7. "Great books" classic texts readings and discussions
8. Logical training by means of mathematics, music theory, natural philosophy…
9. Focus training by means of physical exercise, concentration exercises, meditation practices…

The rationale for this core-curriculum is as follows:

1. English composition
The need for this as a foundational element in any educational program should be more than self-evident.

2 & 3. French & German
One of the main purposes of this first year is to determine if students have the capacity to study several languages simultaneously in regular and systematic short increments evenly distributed throughout the day. French and German are given first because they are the most beneficial general scholarly languages for those who might ask or opt to leave the program at any time. Incoming EIL/EFL/ESL students who already know either or both of these may focus on learning or improving their English instead, and those who know all three well may access other options, such as Spanish, Swedish, etc.

4. Comparative Philology
Here linguistics will return to what it ought never to have left off being, and, as a basis for their upcoming actual study of languages, students will learn how languages are related to each other, influence each other, and change over time according to laws that can often be clearly identified.

5. Language Overviews [comparative systematic sampling of those languages of the world for which adequate study material is available]
In order to study a language thoroughly, one needs to have access to a good handful of different descriptive teaching manuals, at least some with decent audio materials, as well as a reference grammar or two, several good dictionaries, and a variety of texts ("readers," bilingual, translations) suitable as introductions to reading. Fewer than 100 languages have this kind of documentation, and fewer still (not more than 50) have it in such abundance that would-be learners can select from among it according to their preference for styles and qualities of material. In the course of this first year, students will be led systematically through an examination of all of this material in a survey that proceeds through language families and geographic regions. In other words, students will actually sample both the languages and the materials available for learning them. Thus, they will spend several hours on several successive days actually working with the materials for, e.g., Swahili, in the context of similar overviews of other African languages, and they will then have a solid basis for knowing what languages they might like to teach themselves in the future and what materials they can use to do so.

6. World History [diachronic comparison of both factual details and intellectual trends]
Systematically studying and becoming intimately familiar with the contents of a work such as Peter Stearn's Encyclopedia of World History or Werner Stein's Kulturfahrplan. The purpose of this component is to provide students with the necessary mental framework for profiting from the general expansion of mental and cultural horizons inherent throughout the program.

7. "Great books" classic texts
Discussed in principle above; here in the first year, the "greatest" works that will be read and discussed for a second time in French and German, for a third time in other languages, and ultimately in the original tongues, will be broached for the first time in English.

8. Logical training [mathematics, music theory, natural philosophy…]
There are several purposes for this sequence. First and foremost, engagement in the world of numbers simply provides balance and variety for those immersed in the world of words. More to the point, in this kind of program, students who have internalized other systems of laws and categorization should have less trouble simultaneously studying multiple languages as distinct systems that are yet variations upon a single theme. As an example, in a given year this sequence might take the form of three months of calculations with pencil and paper followed by three months of transposition and other musical theory, then three months of Aristotelian logic, and finally three months of Linnean botany.

9. Focus training [physical education, concentration exercises, meditation practices…]
Endurance sports such as lap swimming and long-distance running, strength-building exercises such as interval training with dumbbells, relaxation-inducing breath-control and other concentration exercises, even forms of meditation, can be integral elements in developing the habit of regular and systematic serious study. What many if not most students will really be learning in this first year is how to study for 9-hours a day, and while this will be demanding at first, studying all day, every day, when there is deep interest in a rich subject matter, can become 2nd nature as a veritable lifestyle. When I reflect upon the way I have developed and refined this ability over the years, I have to analyze and evaluate the path of the polyglot as a means of systematic mental development, a means that I do believe I can teach to those whom it interests. In the first year of this program, for at least the first three months, each day will dawn for students with an hour of lap swimming or long-distance running, giving way to strength-training exercises in the second three months. In the third three months, students will spend an hour a day practicing breathing and concentration exercises and, in the final three months, they will receive instruction in forms of deep focus-inducing meditation-like practices. It is expected that students will swiftly integrate the continued practice of at least one of these exercises into their waking hours outside the nine "class" hours, and in the 2nd year, they will further have time set aside for continuing their experimentation and/or mastery of various practices from this and/or the logical training exercises. The meditation mentioned here should be understood in the context of pure mental exercise parallel to physical exercise and not as any form of spiritual or religious activity.

After completing this first year and opting to stay on at the academy, students will choose from one of the above mentioned tracks (Western languages, Central languages, Indic languages, or East Asian Languages). It must be stressed again that the purpose of this academy is NOT to produce area specialists (although those following one of these tracks could certainly enter graduate programs as area specialists in normal graduate schools), but to produce polyglots (i.e., individuals who have cracked the code of learning languages and can continue to do so at will for the rest of their lives) who have a well-rounded knowledge of the most important "great books" of all times and places. In order to get the best start in polyglottery, it is advantageous to begin learning in a systematically logical fashion; hence the tracks, which are organized not mainly according to genetic or other structural principles, but rather principally according to cultural circles, for the greatest hurdle in developing abilities in foreign languages does not lie on the level of phonetics or of grammar. Although these may present great challenges, they are never anything compared to the challenge of developing lexical width and breadth, and thus it is always best to study languages together they draw from the same etymological sources.

Let me stress that I conceive of the endeavor of polyglottery and polyliteracy as being a life-long quest for increasingly greater mastery and understanding. Thus, I find the use of testing scales of specific practical levels of proficiency to be the antithesis of this mentality, and instead of this I would simply require that students develop the ability to begin functioning fully on an intellectual level in any language 24 months after beginning a relationship with it, i.e., that they begin reading texts in them and then actively participating in discussions about those texts. Again, this expectation is based on my own experience, both as a student and as a teacher, in "normal" college programs, and if it can be done there, it should comparatively easy to do here. Of course the ease and the fluidity with which students will be able to do this will vary according to the language in question, particularly those in the subjectively more difficult tracks, and according to the student's individual talents. However, I firmly believe that focusing on developing practical abilities is, paradoxically, an inefficient way of attaining them, and that studying languages in the holistic fashion that I propose -- which always necessarily includes diachronic developmental study of the language to whatever extent this is known -- imparts these abilities as a matter of course. In other words, students who focus upon learning how to speak stand a good chance of failing in this endeavor, while those who focus instead upon getting to know the essence of a language will naturally come to be able to speak it where it is being used.


The Western Civilization Language Track:

Year 2:
1. French
2. German
3. Latin
4. Historical analytical sequence of Teutonic languages
5. Exotic language 1 (Arabic, Sanskrit, or Chinese)
6. Exotic language 1 (Arabic, Sanskrit, or Chinese)
7. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
8. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
9. Practicum in logical and/or focus training

Year 3:
1. Latin
2. Historical reading sequence of Teutonic languages
3. Greek
4. Russian (= Slavic I)
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)

Year 4:
1. Greek
2. Russian
3. Irish (= Celtic I)
4. Free choice of 1 additional new language (Spanish, Portuguese, etc.)
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using Exotic 1 texts and in discussion)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)


The Central Civilization Language Track:

Year 2:
1. French
2. German
3. Arabic
4. Arabic
5. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Sanskrit, or Chinese)
6. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Sanskrit, or Chinese)
7. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
8. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
9. Practicum in logical and/or focus training

Year 3:
1. Arabic
2. Arabic
3. Persian
4. Turkish
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)

Year 4:
1. Arabic
2. Persian
3. Turkish
4. Free choice of 1 additional new language (e.g., Urdu)
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using Arabic translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)


The Indic Civilization Language Track:

Year 2:
1. French
2. German
3. Sanskrit
4. Sanskrit
5. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Arabic, or Chinese)
6. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Arabic, or Chinese)
7. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
8. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
9. Practicum in logical and/or focus training

Year 3:
1. Sanskrit
2. Sanskrit
3. Hindi
4. Tamil
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)

Year 4:
1. Sanskrit
2. Hindi
3. Tamil
4. Free choice of 1 additional new language (Bengali, Telugu, etc.)
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using Sanskrit translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)


The East-Asian Civilization Language Track:

Year 2:
1. French
2. German
3. Mandarin
4. Mandarin
5. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Arabic, or Sanskrit)
6. Exotic language 1 (Latin, Arabic, or Sanskrit)
7. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
8. Great books (beginning to incorporate original texts in discussions)
9. Practicum in logical and/or focus training

Year 3:
1. Mandarin
2. Mandarin
3. Korean
4. Japanese
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, & in discussions)

Year 4:
1. Mandarin
2. Korean
3. Japanese
4. Classical Chinese
5. Exotic 1
6. Exotic 1
7. Great books (using Chinese translations, & in discussions)
8. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)
9. Great books (using French & German translations, Latin in discussion)




































































































































 
 
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