Brazilian Army Language Center officers visit DLIFLC

Brazilian Army Language Center officers visit DLIFLC

By Natela Cutter Two members of the Brazilian Army Language Center visited the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Oct. 22-26, to gain knowledge about the inner workings of one of the largest foreign language schools in the nation. Lt. Col. Sergio Avelar Tinoco, commander of the school, and Capt. Carlos Henrique Souza Vilas Boas, head of the English Department, spent a week in Monterey, speaking with their DLIFLC counterparts, program managers, instructors and students at the Presidio of Monterey and at DLIFLC instructional facilities. “Our language school is located in Rio de Janeiro near the famous Copa Cabana Sidewalk,” said Vilas Boas, “We provide intensive English courses for officers and NCOs who are assigned to work at Brazilian Embassies abroad and also instructors….who are going to teach at foreign military schools,” he explained, adding that unlike at DLIFLC, language teachers must join the military in order to be an instructor. “All of our teachers are Brazilians. They have (foreign language) college degrees and then they join the military. After that they have nine months of military training so they can work with the Army as language teachers,” explained Vilas Boas, pointing out the contrast to DLIFLC instructors who are mainly native-born. One of the key differences the visitors pointed out is that their language school does not have enlisted members in contrast to DLIFLC, where the majority of the students are enlisted and are normally first-time learners of the foreign language being taught. “Our process is different than yours. So, to go to our school one has to be already accredited in the language skills. He has to...
15,000th Associate of Arts degree awarded

15,000th Associate of Arts degree awarded

The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center awarded its 15,000th Associate of Arts degree on Oct. 25, 2018, marking an impressive milestone for the Institute’s regionally accredited degree program. “Having this degree enhances our student’s academic and professional success as a service member” explained Pam Savko, dean of Academic Affairs. “Awarding the 15,000th AA degree in a foreign language proves that our students have an extremely strong work ethic. Graduating from DLIFLC is considered one of the toughest schools in the military,” said DLIFLC Provost, Dr. Robert Savukinas. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges first granted academic credit for DLIFLC courses in 1979. In March 2002, DLIFLC was awarded Associate of Arts Degree granting authority. Many students come to DLIFLC with some general education credits, prior college, Advance Placement testing, or even Bachelor and Master degrees. The DLIFLC AA Degree Office and Registrar help students transfer or validate 18 General Education credits necessary to obtain AA degree in foreign language from DLILFC. Credits must come from regionally accredited colleges/universities and authorized testing sources. DLIFLC’s regional accreditation was reaffirmed for another seven years this past spring by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and...
Korean Zen Master gives advice to students

Korean Zen Master gives advice to students

By Natela Cutter Most students who attend the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center don’t expect to meet a Korean Zen master during their studies, let alone be able to ask existential questions. “Being able to speak to someone who is so distinguished is honestly the coolest thing I have ever done,” said Airman 1st Class Michael Rikli, who was able to participate in a question and answer session in Korean during the visit of the Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, a Buddhist monk and Zen master, Sept. 25. The Venerable Pomnyun Sunim is renowned for his humanitarian efforts, especially in North Korea, the promotion of human rights, world peace, the eradication of famine, disease and much more. He has several million followers on social media, frequently attributed to his candid rhetoric and simple style in giving advice and replying to existential questions. “I told him that I was afraid of failing the test and wanted to know how to deal with those thoughts of failure,” explained Rikli.  He told me ‘Imagine taking a driving test and flunking it. Would you really want to be driving? No? Well it is the same thing. You take the test again,” he said as the auditorium with hundreds of Korean language students rocked with laughter. Often traveling to the United States to give lectures attended by academicians and government analysts, the lecture opportunity for Korean Language students and their instructors was an extraordinary encounter. “It is indisputable is that he is one of the most prominent thought leaders in South Korea.  As far as I can tell, his popularity stems from his longtime activism...
Korean instructors bring real life experience to classroom

Korean instructors bring real life experience to classroom

By Natela Cutter MONTEREY, Calif. – Nearly 20 years ago, two young linguists bumped into each other at Army’s Yongsan installation in Seoul, Korea, during a competition then known as the “Language Olympics,” a fun event that military linguists from all over the world would vie to compete in. Little did they know, after a full career as military linguists they would find themselves working together again, as Korean language instructors at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, employed at almost the exact same time and in the same office as civilian faculty members. “Back then, I was a Command Language Program Manager and we all supported the brigade command at Yongsang,” said Joosik Choi, sporting a red bow tie and a broad smile. As a CLPM manager, Choi’s duties included taking care of career linguists under his supervision, but also tending to much of the sensitive analysis work that involved using high level Korean. Both instructors joined the military in the early 1990s, deployed several times, and became warrant officers before retiring. “I enlisted in the Army from Texas in 1992 and then went on to do various jobs, including working at DLIFLC as a Military Language Instructor from 2001 to 2003,” said Young Shin, who retired in 2014. The experience gained in the field and as an instructor, in the case of Shin, is invaluable in the classroom, the benefits of which are yet to be seen; Choi and Shin just began their civilian teaching careers this spring. “We know how language is used to do their jobs,” explained Shin. “I can give students the right...
Advice from the wise: don’t cram on the test

Advice from the wise: don’t cram on the test

By Natela Cutter MONTEREY, Calif. – Every Tuesday morning, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Donehue heads for the Tin Barn, a 1950s building on the Presidio of Monterey, where new students in-process and start the first day of their journey to becoming military linguists by mastering one of the 17 languages taught at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. “If there is one thing I want you to remember, and there are many, you have to know that you can’t cram on the tests here,” said Donehue, to an incoming group of students from all four branches of the service. “I have gone through DLI three times, and know a few things,” he said to the group of about 30 incoming students ranging from recent high school graduates to seasoned officers. With service members coming in every Tuesday to begin their 36 to 64 week course in a foreign language, and graduation that takes place every Thursday, Donehue has a tough job of looking at the requirements in the field, assessing what is happening with the academic teaching side, and making sure that all elements work together to produce service members ready and capable of providing critical information to their commanders for national security needs. “I understand the unique role which a linguist plays in providing intelligence.  This capability requires a lot of hard work and dedication while studying at DLI, and more importantly, they must embrace the concept of being a life-long learner of the language,” said Donehue in a separate interview. As an Arabic and Persian Farsi linguist, Donehue has a habit of poking around the eight...
Provost award may open many doors

Provost award may open many doors

By Natela Cutter MONTEREY, Calif. – As fate would have it, Airman 1st class James Jacobson ended up emulating his father, by going to the same school and studying the same language in Monterey, California, some 23 years later. But on this occasion, Jacobson junior walked off with a Provost award, given to those who have outstanding scores and are in superb academic standing upon graduation. His score on the Persian Farsi Defense Language Proficiency Test was a Level 3 in Listening and Reading, and a Level 2 in speaking. Only about five percent of students attain this level of proficiency in Persian Farsi. “No matter what happens, I always try my best. The idea is to devise a plan, set a framework, have strong moral values, and treat others with respect….and you will succeed. This is what I focused on… If one door closes, another will open,” said Jacobson, who also welcomed a new baby on the first day of school last year. Asked if his father had something to do with his decision to become a linguist, Jacobson said that he always wanted to be able to discuss the details of his father’s job, but couldn’t. “Now we can swap a few stories,” said Glenn Jacobson, with a broad smile, admitting that his son graduated with better scores than him but that his skills improved as he continued his linguist career, flying SOUTHCOM missions, becoming an officer, and working in several foreign countries.  “I was able to use my Persian with the Kurds and in Afghanistan, using Dari,” he explained. Both admitted that living in Turkey, Japan...
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