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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!

Just in case you haven't heard -- this is what a day in the life an ILP volunteer really looks like. Pretty great, eh?

ILP Thailand

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?

  • Dr. Trevor Mckee came up with an idea
  • BYU took it on
  • A group of BYU student took on the first ILP semester
  • BYU dropped ILP
  • A group of OGs stuck around and created a non profit

Dr. Trevor McKee came up with an idea

Before ILP was ILP (or ya know -- the International Language Programs to be precise) 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. Makes sense to do the same thing again with 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. 

I mean, let's be real ... those Spanish classes you took in high school where you memorized grammar and words behind a desk staring at a black board never worked, right? These kids are essentially playing and just having fun with their teachers while, unknowingly, learning a second language. 


BYU took it on

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. Because of their standards, they knew the best way to get to know people was by serving. 

Trevor McKee got BYU on board and created a study abroad with this group of college students being the first group to go out to ILP's first country, Russia, in 1992!

ILP Russia

A group of BYU students took on the first ILP 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 class room with a group of students, they worked inside their host families homes with their host siblings! You gotta check out Steve's awesome story about his host brother. It's a good one! 


BYU dropped that study abroad program

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.

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

A group of OGs stuck around and created a non-profit

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 (obviously) loved their time in Russia so much that they saw it's 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!

ILP China

Now, ILP has FIVE humanitarian countries (The DR, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Romania and Haiti) and SEVEN exchange countries (Thailand, China, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Mexico). That's a total of 12 countries right now and ILP is always growing. Not bad coming from one country!

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!

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Topics: ILP Basics, Making a Difference

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