Earl W. Stevick, linguist, professor

September 21, 2013

Earl W. Stevick, a longtime teacher at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, who developed programs for teaching English as a second language, died Aug. 13 at an assisted living facility in Lexington, Va. He was 89.

He had Parkinson’s disease, said his daughter Marian Walton.

Dr. Stevick taught at the Foreign Service Institute from the early 1960s until his retirement in 1984. He spoke 14 languages and once served as head of the institute’s African language program.

He published more than a dozen books on the theory and practice of language teaching, including “Teaching Languages: A Way and Ways” (1980) and “Memory, Meaning & Method: A View of Language Teaching” (1996).

Dr. Stevick developed linguistic courses for the Peace Corps, taught at the University of Maryland and helped create a master’s degree teaching program at what is now the SIT Graduate Institute in Washington.

Earl Wilson Stevick was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and grew up in Joplin, Mo. He was a 1946 graduate of Harvard University. He received a master’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1950 and a doctorate in linguistics from Cornell University in 1955.

Dr. Stevick taught at the old Scarritt College for Christian Workers, a school for missionaries, in Nashville in the 1950s. He received a Ford Foundation fellowship to develop language programs for missionaries in Africa before he joined the State Department.

In 1981, he received the Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize from the Modern Language Association for his book “Teaching Languages.” A book recognizing his scholarly contributions, “Meaningful Action: Earl Stevick’s Influence on Language Teaching,” was released by Cambridge University Press in May.

Dr. Stevick lived in Arlington before moving to Lexington in the 1990s.

His wife of 55 years, Betty Rae Culp Stevick, died in 2003. Survivors include three children; Becky Clarke of Lexington, Joel Stevick of Rockville and Marian Walton of Iowa City, Iowa; a brother; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough

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