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How IES was started

The IES Language Foundation was originally founded by John R. Coons in San Rafael, California as IES Schools in 1982. The IES Language Foundation was patterned after IES Schools International which was founded in Japan in 1975 to teach English to Japanese speaking children. The IES Language Foundation is a National 501 ( c ) 3 Non-Profit Organization. The first IES Language Foundation Programs were offered in November of 1982 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spanish was the first language offered and Diane Levitan (current CEO and President of the IES Language Foundation) was one of the first pioneers for the Spanish Program. Since that time, the IES Language Foundation has expanded nationally throughout the United states to include pre-school programs through grade eight in Spanish, French, and Japanese as well as some pilot programs in Mandarin Chinese and German.

The IES Language Foundation uses its own teaching system and curriculum materials developed and enhanced by Diane Levitan emphasizing an oral approach to language acquisition. It develops all of its programs with children in mind.

Imagine a group of 8-12 students averaging from 6-9 years of age participating in a series of events in a foreign language being led by a dynamic, energetic group leader (teacher) that gives all directions in the foreign language.The teacher meets the children at the door, greets them in the foreign language, and invites them individually to sit in the conversation circle.

After each child has been greeted, the teacher joins the group and begins to sing the “greeting song” with the children.She then begins showing flash cards of the alphabet and numbers.For review, the teacher shows posters from the book, and the children respond with action sentences.

The leader then asks the children to follow, gives directions in the foreign language, and an entire series of game activities, following the IES Six-Step teaching process, begins with visual aids depicting the learning objectives in the book and tape for the month.If any student needs the leader’s attention, that student will raise his or her hand and say “excuse me” in the foreign language.

Various games will be played, collective rewards will be given, a snack will usually take place as part of a game, and intermittent songs will be sung. After 55 minutes have passed, the leader groups the children in the conversation circle to give instructions for home study and to wish each other a fond good-bye for the week through song.

The IES Language Foundation is dedicated to the service of giving children a head start for life! It is dedicated to teaching languages to children as early as possible. IES knows that every child is capable of learning more than one language simultaneously. The goal is to enrich the children’s lives with a multicultural perspective.


Provides a foreign language program for children from grades pre-K to 8.

  • Provides parents with an educational enhancement program option for after-school hours.
  • Contributes to a higher quality of education in the community.
  • Can provide income for schools.
  • Provides a subject area that schools do not have the time or money to provide.
  • Helps prepare children for adult life in the competitive international world.
  • Lowers tension among cultures in the work force and professions.
  • Contributes to multicultural sensitivity and understanding in the community, state, nation, and world.
  • Bridges the gap between cultures by providing a good basis for international communication.
  • Provides a complimentary program to the regular school curriculum.
  • Provides a foreign language for children in the formative years when second-language learning is possible.


The IES Language Foundation is dedicated to offering second language acquisition opportunities for young children. Research indicates that the best time for children to learn a second language is at a very early age, before their speech patterns have become set. Therefore, they can easily learn the vocal patterns of a new language. By the age of 16 it is very difficult for a person to make all the sounds of another language with a native inflection.

We believe that a language cannot be separated from its culture. Our goal is to teach language for life with understanding and enrichment. In our classes, language development occurs the same way the mother tongue was developed, gradually, and naturally.

The optimum time for second language acquisition is at a very early age—before the age of eleven—through game activities, songs, stories, poems, riddles and simple conversation through a series of visual aids. Children learn through enjoyable activities which reinforce previous skills and continue to build new skills. We believe that if children are taught in an exciting, active, and stimulating environment, they enjoy absorbing the language. Positive reinforcement is always used. We believe that any child can learn a second language.

IES believes that language development, in conjunction with cultural exposure, will sensitize children to other cultures and thus bridge the gap in multicultural communications. This is vital in an ever—changing world that is becoming smaller.

The philosophy of the IES Language Foundation is that all American children are capable of language acquisition in more than one language regardless of their performance in other subject areas. IES is dedicated to offering languages to all children.


The IES Language Foundation’s method of exposing children to new foreign languages utilizes the same natural process in which the mother tongue was acquired. The methodology is a process of gradual immersion removing dependence on the mother tongue very naturally.

A series of sequential activities through a six step process is used to accomplish the repetition necessary in learning a new language. Through these sequential game activities the language is kept alive and active so that the students are gradually forced to survive in the language. In addition to the series of sequential game activities, additional games, songs, poems, and riddles are utilized for the children’s enjoyment and reinforcement.

The language is taught as a whole—never broken apart into nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. In maintaining this wholeness, the language is never separated from its culture. The children are sensitized to the culture of the new language.

The children are kept comfortable and relaxed in a natural environment to which they are accustomed—their school. We keep in mind that children have a lot of energy. This energy is utilized and directed in the IES methodology realizing that most children learn a language for fun rather than necessity.

The beginning stages of a language are gradual. With the IES method, children first communicate in single words, progressing to very simple sentences, and finally complex sentences. The children are capable of learning songs and poems with motion before actually speaking in sentences. At some point, a transformation occurs, and progress from this point on may seem sudden.

With the IES method of gradual immersion through sequential game activities, reward systems, and reinforcement materials, IES classes function completely in the foreign language by the end of the first two month term.


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