[lg policy] New Hampshire:Professor who created Peace Corps language method dies at 90

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Dec 5 20:41:50 UTC 2015

All:  the attached obit made me think of my own experience teaching a
language in a Peace Corps Project, back in 1965.  I taught Kannada for
three months at UCDavis, but didn't have Prof. Rassias' method at my
disposal, so I used what was then called the "Army language method" which
involved memorizing conversations, and very little grammar.  (I cheated and
taught grammar, too.)

Di anybody else on this list teach in the Peace Corps?


By Associated Press December 3

HANOVER, N.H. — John Rassias, a Dartmouth College professor who created a
unique method to teach languages that was adopted by the Peace Corps, has
died. He was 90.

Rassias died Wednesday at his home in Norwich, Vermont, according to a
statement from college President Philip Hanlon.

Rassias was a consultant and developer with the Peace Corps in 1966 when he
directed a pilot program to teach languages in Africa. The Rassias Method,
featuring rapid-fire drills, cultural immersion and a touch of theater, was
later adopted by the Peace Corps.

He studied French at the University of Bridgeport and then went to the
Universite de Dijon in France as a Fulbright Scholar, earning his Ph.D.
>From there, he moved to Paris where he studied French drama, a skill that
would serve him well when he developed his teaching method, which relied on
a dramatic style designed to break down students’ inhibitions.

He joined Dartmouth in 1965, founded its Language Study Abroad programs and
directed the foreign study programs for several years.

At Dartmouth, he founded the Rassias Center for World Languages and
Cultures and became one of the founding partners of the Inter-American
Partnership for Education, a Clinton Global Initiative.

His daughter, Helene Rassias-Miles, brought the method to Mexico and in the
past few years it’s been taught to more than 2,000 English language public
school teachers who have instructed hundreds of thousands of Mexican

The method was also shared with the People’s Republic of China, Bulgaria,
France, Japan, Greece, Turkey and the city of Baltimore school system,
according to Dartmouth.

Rassias grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, and served in the U.S.
Marines, piloting an amphibious tank during the Battle of Okinawa.

His wife, Mary Evanstock Rassias, died in 2012. He is survived by three
children and nine grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


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