The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) got started at the beginning of World War Two, when a clandestine school was established at the Presidio of San Francisco to teach students Japanese. Classes began with 60 students, mostly of Japanese roots, taught by 4 instructors. Enrollment in the school grew exponentially during the second World War, and after many Japanese Americans were interned in camps in the west, the school was moved to Camp Savage, Minnesota. It was not until the war was over that the school moved to its present location in the Presidio of Monterey.
The campus is located along prime California coastline in beautiful Monterey. To attend, one must be a member of the U.S. Army or have sponsorship from a government agency. Throughout the year the Institute provides high-quality language instruction in over 24 foreign languages to around 3,500 students, and employs a staff of over 1,700 teachers. These intensive immersion programs, where students are taught in small groups of six to eight, involve a six hour per day, five days a week schedule. Depending on the difficulty level of the language being taught, these classes may range from 26 to 64 weeks. Upon the successful completion of a course and the transferral of 15 general education units from another institution, students receive an Associate of Arts degree.
A selection of the languages currently being taught include:
The Language Schools are all comprised of departments, headed up by a civilian chairperson who manages staff and instructors. Teams of instructors develop curriculum, teach classes, and evaluate student performance.
The Continuing Education program teaches intermediate and advanced students.
The European and Latin American Language School is composed of three category 3 languages, one category 2 language, and four category 1 languages. Here, students can learn Serbian-Croatian, which uses Cyrillic and Latin, Hebrew, which uses consonant-based script, Russian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, or Portuguese, German, French, Italian, and Spanish, which all use the Latin alphabet.
Middle Eastern Schools teach the Egyptian, Iraqi, and Levantine dialects of Arabic, as well as Modern Standard Arabic over the course of 64 weeks.
The Asian Schools teach 64-week basic courses in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean through the use of immersion and examples of cultural materials such as traditional art, food, religion, and music.
Category 3 students’ programs are 47 weeks long, category 2 student’s programs are 36 weeks, and category 1 students’ programs are 26 weeks. Teaching methods vary from commercial-book-based to Institute-specific-material learning. All students use iPods, tablet PCs, SmartBoards, SCOLA TV broadcasting, and the internet to round out their holistic language experience.
Language immersion both in the classroom and in overnight off-campus events help students hone their skills with real-life scenarios and cultural traditions.
Accreditation is granted by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
The nontraditional programming of the Institute is enhanced by a variety of special programs; these include the Immersion Program, Language Survival Kits, the Field Support and Special Programs Division, and HEADSTART.
The Immersion Program is at an off-site location where students stay from one to three days, and are not allowed to speak English. Students engage in real-life activities like making reservations, bargaining, and discussing food. 30-day, in-country immersions are also available.
Language Survival Kits are pamphlets on a variety of topics with CDs to be used in the field.
The Field Support and Special Programs Division gives cultural training and basic language instruction service members pre-deployment.
HEADSTART is a dynamic 80-hour basic-language-instruction DVD. It is currently available in Dari, Pashto, and Iraqi Arabic.
Federal Title IV aid programs are available and tuition is generally paid by the government or sponsoring agency.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.