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How ILP Got Started

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 7/30/18, 2:49 PM


For those of you just now joining us or even those that have been around for a minute, you may be wondering how this awesome program we call ILP got started. To tell you this, we have to go all the way back to the beginning!

The story of how ILP got started is different than you might assume. It hasn't always been exactly like it is now  —  always awesome, but just a little bit different (just a bit -- nothing too drastic). It all started with an idea one gentleman dreamed up. 

To truly understand the story of how ILP got started there are a few things you will need to know. 

How did ILP get started?

  • Meet Dr. Trevor Mckee 
  • Hey There, BYU
  • BYU + ILP's First Semester
  • Bye, Bye BYU 
  • And Here We Are Now 

Meet Dr. Trevor McKee 

Before ILP was ILP, a man named Trevor McKee (former professor of Human Development and Psycholinguistics at Brigham Young University) dreamed up an idea of how to teach his children another language. The theory was to teach a second language to children the same way they learned their first, naturally by total immersion.

Think about when a young child says their first word ... "mama".  They said that because they heard their mom saying it over and over with them first. It makes sense to recreate that same practice to help kids learn a second language, right?

He created a system called the Duolingual Education that has since shown incredible results. The Duolingual Education differs from traditional learning of a second language because it's very interactive and fun unlike many traditional classrooms. 

Think about it: the Spanish classes you took in high school where you memorized grammar and words behind a desk staring at a blackboard haven't stuck, have they? Learning a language seems to work best when these kids are essentially playing and just having fun with their teachers while, unknowingly, learning a second language. 

ILP Dr. McKee

Hey There, BYU

Before the ILP program started, a group of college students had gotten together and decided they wanted to have an experience in another country like a study abroad program, but didn't want to be tourists or confined to a classroom. They wanted to actually interact with people and form real relationships in the country where they went. They knew the best way to get to know people was by serving. 

Trevor McKee got Brigham Young University on board and created a study abroad with this group of college students, which created the first ILP/BYU semester abroad in Russia, in  1992!

ILP Russia

BYU + ILP's First Semester 

In 1992, this group of college student set off on the very first semester to Russia. Believe it or not, this group included our two current ILP directors -- Steve and Jared. 

Their semester looked a little different than a typical ILP semester now because instead of working in a classroom with a group of students, they worked inside their host families homes with their host siblings. You have to check out Steve's awesome story about his host brother and reuniting some 25 years later. It's a good one! 

ILP nearly 25 years later

Bye, Bye BYU 

Sadly, after a while, BYU decided to pull the plug on that study abroad program because they viewed it more as a service abroad rather than a study abroad -- which was fair. ILP is definitely very serviced based and the kids are the focus; it's been that way from the start and ILP didn't want to give that up, so they continued on. 

Lucky for you and me, that is not the end of ILP's story!

And Here We Are Now

After receiving the news that BYU was no longer going to take part of it, some of the original members took action. Jared and Steve loved their time in Russia so much that they saw its potential to do good and wanted others to have that same experience.

They organized the non-profit organization International Language Programs to keep the good times going for all of us!

Now, ILP has countries all over the world. We have humanitarian and exchange programs that allow college-aged volunteers to give back, connect with the local people, and truly make a difference, all while they experience life in a another country. 

ILP China

If you want to learn even more about International Language Programs, that green button below will take you to all the FAQ. If those don't answer your question, give us a call (801-374-8854): 

Frequently Asked Questions

Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering Abroad

Exploring The World For Nearly 30 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We share our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

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