The Polonsky method was developed by Marco Polonsky, who due to the turmoil of WWII had to learn Italian (his native language), French, Hebrew, and then Swedish, English and Spanish without the benefit of school or lessons.
After a 5th grade education in Italy, as an adult, he attended Brown University, where he majored in Comparative Literature. He moved to Mexico where he started the Colegio de Tepoztlan, after teaching at Centro Internacional de Documentación) (CIDOC), with the great humanists Ivan Illych, Eric Fromm, Jonathan Kozel and Paolo Freire. Marco died in 2002.
Andrew Weil, MD and author of several books wrote in his ˆMarriage of the Sun and the Moon” about the Polonsky method:
“Marco’s philosophy of learning languages was out of the ordinary but struck me as correct. He said that we all had the capacity to learn languages, since we did it as infants, that it had nothing to do with intellect but rather was an operation of the unconscious mind. The only abilities it depended upon were accurate listening and accurate imitating.
“Forget about grammar books and formal instruction, Marco said. Just listen and imitate.”
Probably because Marco had to learn so many languages on his own, he was able to break down and re-create the process, which is very similar to the way children develop understanding and speaking abilities.
Years of practice teaching American college students Spanish, Italian businessmen English, Slovenian and drop outs Italian and English, in different parts of the world refined the method to what it is today – a highly efficient and practical way to gain fluency in a new language.
Lina was born in Venezuela of American parents and grew up speaking Spanish and English. She went to college in the States, in Mexico and in Israel and married Marco Polonsky, an Italian Russian Jew and a graduate of Brown University who spoke six languages.
After living in Mexico, Italy, Holland and Yugoslavia, Lina taught bilingual students in public schools in San Antonio, Texas, and Woodburn, Oregon. She started the Colegio de Axixic in 1999, when she concentrated on early childhood language acquisition. Beginning in 2009 she has taught Spanish to Americans and Canadians living in Ajijic.
Over the last 8 years the experience she acquired teaching older students has been invaluable to improving the lifestyles of the retired residents of the area. Not only have they learned to speak to their neighbors, new friends and service people, but they have found that their brains are more alert and their memories have improved.
Many of her students have become movers in the community to help the less fortunate; working with children with special needs, resale stores and other non-profits that improve the community.