Military Wiki
Defense Language Institute
Established 1954 (DLIELC) 1963 (DLIFLC)
Commandant Colonel James Garrett (DLIELC) COL Danial D. Pick (DLIFLC)[1]
Location Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland AFB Texas (DLIELC) Presidio of Monterey California (DLIFLC), United States

English Center [2]

Foreign Language Center [3]

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution, which provides linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense, other Federal Agencies and numerous customers around the world. The Defense Language Institute is responsible for the Defense Language Program, and the bulk of the Defense Language Institute's activities involve educating DoD members in assigned languages, and international personnel in English. Other functions include planning, curriculum development, and research in second-language acquisition.

Defense Language Institute Schools and Locations

Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC)

The DLIELC is a Department of Defense agency operated by the U.S. Air Force's 37th Training Wing, and is responsible for training international military and civilian personnel to speak and teach English. The agency also manages the English as a Second Language Program for the US military, and manages overseas English training programs. International students must be sponsored by an agency of the Department of Defense, and commonly include personnel from NATO member countries. Over 100 countries are represented among the student body at DLIELC at any given time. The main campus is currently located on the grounds of Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas. A satellite campus is located at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. DLIELC acculturates and trains international personnel to communicate in English and to instruct English language programs in their country, trains United States military personnel in English as a second language, and deploys English Language Training programs around the world in support of the Defense Department.

Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC)

The DLIFLC at the Presidio of Monterey, California (DLIFLC & POM) is the DoD's primary foreign language school. Military service members study foreign languages at highly accelerated paces in courses ranging from 24 to 64 weeks in length.[2] In October 2001, the Institute received Federal degree-granting authority to issue Associate of Arts in Foreign Language degrees to qualified graduates of all basic programs.[3]

Although the property is under the jurisdiction of the United States Army, there are U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force presences on post, and all four branches provide students and instructors. Members of other Federal agencies and military services of other countries may also receive training, and members of other law enforcement agencies may receive Spanish language training.

As of 2015, over 40 languages are taught at the DLIFLC including Afrikaans in Washington, DC and the following in Monterey: Modern Standard Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dari, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurmanji, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sorani Kurdish, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Uzbek.


The DLIFLC also maintains the DLI-Washington office in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington office provides training in languages not taught at the Presidio of Monterey, such as "low-density languages" which do not require the same large volume of trained personnel. There is some overlap, however, as students from the Defense Attaché System (DAS) are given local training in languages also available at the Monterey location.

Training is carried out at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the United States Department of State and by five commercial private-sector foreign language schools in the metropolitan Washington, DC area.


The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) traces its roots to the eve of America’s entry into World War II, when the U.S. Army established a secret school at the Presidio of San Francisco to teach the Japanese language. Classes began 1 November 1941, with four instructors and 60 students in an abandoned airplane hangar at Crissy Field. The students were primarily second generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) from the West Coast, who had learned Japanese from their first-generation parents but were educated in the US and whose Japanese was somewhat limited, the "Kibei," Japanese-Americans who had been educated in Japan and spoke Japanese like the Japanese themselves, along with two Caucasian students, the only US military personnel who had any useful command of the Japanese language at the beginning of WWII. Nisei Hall, along with several other buildings, is named in honor of these earliest students, who are honored in the Institute’s Yankee Samurai exhibit.

During the war, the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS), as it came to be called, grew dramatically. When Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were moved into internment camps in 1942, the school moved to temporary quarters at Camp Savage, Minnesota. By 1944 the school had outgrown these facilities and moved to nearby Fort Snelling. More than 6,000 graduates served throughout the Pacific Theater during the war and the subsequent occupation of Japan.

In 1946 the school moved to the Presidio of Monterey, the renamed Army Language School expanded rapidly in 1947–48 during the Cold War. Instructors, including native speakers of more than thirty languages and dialects, were recruited from all over the world. Russian became the largest language program, followed by Chinese, Korean, and German.

The Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) traces its formal beginning to May 1954, when the 3746th Pre-Flight Training Squadron (language) was activated and assumed responsibility for all English language training. In 1960, the Language School, USAF, activated and assumed the mission. In 1966, the DoD established the Defense Language Institute English Language School (DLIELS) and placed it under US Army control although the school remained at Lackland AFB. In 1976, the DoD appointed the US Air Force as the executive agent for the school and redesignated it the Defense Language Institute English Language Center.

Cold War language instruction

The U.S. Air Force met most of its foreign language training requirements in the 1950s through contract programs at universities such as Yale, Cornell, Indiana, and Syracuse and the U.S. Navy taught foreign languages at the Naval Intelligence School in Washington, D.C., but in 1963 these programs were consolidated into the Defense Foreign Language Program. A new headquarters, the Defense Language Institute (DLI), was established in Washington, D.C., and the former Army Language School commandant, Colonel James L. Collins, Jr., became the Institute’s first director. The Army Language School became the DLI West Coast Branch, and the foreign language department at the Naval Intelligence School became the DLI East Coast Branch. The contract programs were gradually phased out. The DLI also took over the English Language School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which became the DLI English Language Center (DLIELC).

During the peak of American involvement in Vietnam (1965–73), the DLI stepped up the pace of language training. While regular language training continued unabated, more than 20,000 service personnel studied Vietnamese through the DLI’s programs, many taking a special eight-week military adviser “survival” course. From 1966 to 1973, the institute also operated a Vietnamese branch using contract instructors at Biggs Air Force Base near Fort Bliss, Texas (DLI Support Command, later renamed the DLI Southwest Branch). Vietnamese instruction continued at DLI until 2004.


In the 1970s the institute’s headquarters and all resident language training were consolidated at the West Coast Branch and renamed the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). In 1973, the newly formed U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) assumed administrative control, and in 1976, all English language training operations were returned to the U.S. Air Force, which operates DLIELC to this day.

The DLIFLC won academic accreditation in 1979 from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and in 1981 the position of academic dean (later called provost) was reestablished. In the early 1980s, crowding and living conditions at the Monterey location forced the Institute to open two temporary branches: a branch for air force enlisted students of Russian at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas (1981–1987), and another for army enlisted students of German, Korean, Russian and Spanish at the Presidio of San Francisco (1982–1988). As a result of these conditions, the institute began an extensive facilities expansion program on the Presidio.

Base Realignment and Consolidation and annexation

The European & Latin American School campus housed at the former Larkin Elementary School

In the spring of 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission rejected suggestions that the institute be moved or closed, and recommended that its mission be continued at the present location. In summer of 2005, the commission reopened the issue, to include the closure of the Naval Postgraduate School. Supporters of the closure believed that due to the rising property values and cost of living in the Monterey Bay area, taxpayers would save money by moving both schools to a less expensive location in Ohio. Opponents argued that it would be difficult (if not impossible) to replace the experienced native-speaking faculty at DLI, as the cultural centers of San Francisco and California's Central Coast offer a more diverse pool from which to recruit local instructors, and that the military intelligence community would suffer as a result. The BRAC commission met in Monterey on 8 August 2005, to hear arguments from both sides. On 25 August 2005, the commission's final vote was unanimous to keep DLI at its current location in Monterey.

The European Languages School is partially located at the former Larkin Elementary School, adjacent to the Presidio.[4] After a short stay by the Charter International School through to March 2005,[5] it was leased to the U.S. Army for 5 years. In February 2006 it reopened as an annex to DLI[6] due to constantly increasing demand for advanced foreign language training to support the Global War on Terror.

Today's DLIELC

The commandant of DLIELC is an air force colonel; the deputy commandant is an army lieutenant colonel; the operations squadron commander/commandant of troops is an air force lieutenant colonel. Other military members consist of army, air force and navy personnel. The over 300 civilian members of the staff include the instructors who are qualified in the area of English as a second language. DLIELC is accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation which is certified by the US Department of Education.

DLIELC is divided into three resident academic training sections: General English, Specialized English and Instructor Development. Depending on the needs of the students, training can range from nine weeks (in Specialized English, for example) to 52 weeks in General English. Some students arrive with only minimum English capabilities, then train to a predetermined English comprehension level (ECL) in General English.

Some who have been programmed for follow-on training (FOT) within the continental United States attend Specialized English Training after achieving their required ECL either in country or in the DLIELC resident General English program. In the Specialized English program, students are given a course to familiarize them with the technical terminology and specific language skills they will need at their FOT. In the Instructor Development program, students are trained to become English language instructors or program managers in their respective countries.

Annually, students from over 100 countries enroll in the DLIELC resident training programs. Training is paid by the host country (Foreign Military Sales) or through US grant assistance programs such as International Military Education and Training Programs. In addition to DLIELC’s mission to train international students, DLIELC is responsible for providing English language training to US military service members whose primary language is not English.

The DLIELC campus, located on the southwest quadrant of Lackland AFB, provides facilities and equipment that are conducive to effective learning. Students reside in comfortable, modern lodging, which is within walking distance of their state-of-the-art classrooms. A typical class day consists of six hours of instruction; some of which may be spent in a computer- based language laboratory. All students have access to a learning center, which has a variety of multimedia software and includes a library.

Students can bridge cultural barriers by participating in sports events with each other and with US students. They can also take advantage of tours offered by DLIELC’s Field Studies Program. In addition, the DLIELC international student sponsor program, called AMIGO, which stands for American Members of International Goodwill to Others, provides interaction with volunteer sponsors from both the US military and the local community. Since attendance at DLIELC is frequently the international students’ first contact with Americans, the AMIGO program often provides the international students with a much needed opportunity to better understand the American way of life and enables the students to learn about the diversity of American culture and customs.[citation needed]

Hall of Fame

During DLIFLC's 65th anniversary celebration in November 2006, DLIFLC named the first ten individuals inducted into the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Hall of Fame. DLIFLC receives nominations for new Hall of Fame members each May.[7]

Inductees to the DLIFLC Hall of Fame:

  • Air Force Colonel William Fife: Russian basic, 1948
  • Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona: Vietnamese basic, 1971; Arabic basic, 1974; Arabic intermediate, 1978
  • Shigeya Kihara: Instructor of Japanese, 1941–1974
  • Army Major General Roland Lajoie: Russian basic, 1968
  • Army Specialist Park Young Chae, Korean Counsel General, 10 June 2003
  • Air Force Major General Doyle Larson: Helped develop the career linguist force within the USAF
  • Hugh McFarlane: Russian basic, 1966; Hebrew basic, 1970
  • Army Colonel David McNerney: commandant of DLI 1981–1985
  • Glenn Nordin: Russian basic, 1950s; Vietnamese Adviser Course, 1966
  • Former Department of Defense Secretary and former White House Chief of Staff and Congressman Leon Panetta, became Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on 19 February 2009: championed language education in the military.
  • Whitney E. Reed: commandant of the National Cryptologic School 1986–1993; and NSA/CSS deputy director for education and training

See also


  1. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"About DLIFLC". Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  2. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"DLI catalog". Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  4. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Monterey Peninsula Unified School District forced to close four elementary schools to save money this year". 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  5. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"State Superintendent Jack O'Connell to Personally Deliver News of $250,000 Grant to the International School of Monterey, March 10, 2005". 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  6. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"06-002 DLI hosts open house at Larkin School (2/21/06)". 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-10.[dead link]
  7. [1][dead link]

Cameron Binkley, A Pictorial History of the Defense Language Institute (US Army, 2011).

External links

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