remains true to the vision, the independence, and the creativity that set him on his
path 30 years ago.
love of languages, his
Harvard Divinity School theological training, and his
unbounded sense of humor, all come together in his
INTERCONTINENTAL FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAM, a language school unlike any other.
On Running the Third Millenium Marathon
While extinction has been the fate of many creative entrepreneurs of the late sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties, why has the INTERCONTINENTAL FOREIGN LANGUAGE
PROGRAM - whose symbol is the living Phoenix bird, so familiar to people on the street through millions of language flyers over the years - flourished?
In part, the answer lies in the way its founder, director, and principal instructor, Lee K. Riethmiller, honed his fluency in the twenty-six languages he currently speaks.
Following four years at Ohio State University
, four years at Harvard Divinity School
, and another year as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, Riethmiller
took to the streets of ten countries, making his
living by teaching guitar to students in their native languages.
returned stateside with an intriguing idea: "Why not do this for the rest of my life?
The challenge was to keep on with the independence, the creativity, the fun, and the self-reliance he
had experienced abroad, doing it his
"I figured since no university would let me be my own boss, I'd have to start my own university," he
In 1974 he
amazed the administration of the Cambridge YMCA by signing up 12 students for a trial Spanish course-which he
advertised by posters alone!
By 1976, he
was teaching 150 students a week in seven languages - Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Greek, and Arabic.
language school continued to grow, it became obvious that Riethmiller's innovative school was no Vietnam-era response to tradition and bureaucracy.
was onto something, and it worked.
In the past three decades, he
has personally taught more than 22,000 students, working a straight six-days-a-week, every week, never missing a beat.
"It didn't start out as a mission," says Riethmiller
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.
From the start, Lee Riethmiller's
multilingual vision has kept him on the cutting edge.
envisions a not-so-distant future where people everywhere will be multilingual.
"Monolinguals are dinosaurs," he
"We're in a transitional generation right now, walking away from a monolingual past into a multilingual future.
We're the first fish to walk on land."
students enjoy the program socially as well.
"For some people, taking languages helps when they are making transitions in careers or private life.
It's like yoga," he
seems pleased that people often meet and form relationships in his
classroom and on language-and-travel trips.
After its first 30 years, the INTERCONTINENTAL FOREIGN LANGUAGE
PROGRAM has remained remarkably inexpensive, brought friends to people from around the earth, turned out hundreds of highly skilled, mutilingual teachers, and has become the birthplace of innovative and fun language instruction techniques.
"To be what you do, and to do what you are - that's true freedom," says Riethmiller
The founder of the INTERCONTINENTAL FOREIGN LANGUAGE
PROGRAM is upbeat about the next 25 years in Harvard Square.
What would he
recommend to someone thinking of learning a second or third or seventh language?
"Go for it," he
replies, "We're ready to run the third millennium marathon.
Do it with us."