DLIFLC provost retires for a second time from Institute

MONTEREY, Calif. – The provost of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Dr. Donald Fischer, literally rocked his way through his second retirement Dec. 20, playing his electric guitar in a band following the official ceremony attended by more than 250 faculty, staff, and distinguished guests. “He was the right man for the right time and he is leaving with every student having a MacPro (notebook) and iPad,” said Dr. Richard Brecht, Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, who has worked with Fischer since he became provost in 2005. Fischer is credited for placing a heavy emphasis on technology in the classrooms and in the hands of students and faculty. More than 700 interactive whiteboards are installed in classrooms, while students are currently exchanging their tablet PCs and iPods for MacPro notebooks and iPads. Fischer also served as DLIFLC commandant from 1989 to 1993. On the first day of his command he was surprised to find out that a very significant visitor would be attending a course at the Institute. “You can imagine how I felt about having a four star general on the installation taking Spanish for a month!” explained Fischer, speaking of the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s commanding officer, Gen. Max Thurman, who wanted to learn the language prior to taking his next assignment at Southern Command and the conducting of Operation Just Cause in Panama. As one of TRADOC’s leading schools in technology, Fischer accelerated the issuing of Macintosh computers to faculty who developed some of the Institute’s first computerized language learning materials. Fischer subsequently...

Language school receives Samurai sword from MIS officer family

The Commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center was presented with a symbolic Japanese gift on Dec. 17, a samurai sword, donated to the Institute by the family of Lt. Col. Richard Sakakida, a Military Intelligence Service officer who served in the Philippines and Japan during and after WWII. “He was the right person at the right time in Japan. He accomplished so much not only for U.S. forces, but also the Japanese government which didn’t know whom to trust during the rebuilding of their country,” said Brian Shiroyama, a friend of the Sakakida family, who presented the sword to DLIFLC Commandant Col. Danial D. Pick. “It is a great honor to receive this gift,” said Pick, who explained to Shiroyama that the sword would be mounted above the doorway in the foyer of the headquarters building. ”We are very honored that the family of Mr. Sakakida decided they wanted to donate the sword to our Institute, which is only fitting, because he was a MIS officer and an interpreter.” Sakakida, who passed away 15 years ago, began his career in military intelligence in March of 1941 when he enlisted in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion in Hawaii as a young high school graduate and heritage speaker of Japanese. “Sakakida was the first American spy in Manila before the war began,” explained Shiroyama. Sakakida arrived in the Philippines in April of 1941, posing as a young restless man wanting to travel the world by working as a crew member on ships. Manila was just a stopover for him, according to his cover...

One Marine student recognized as the DoD Language Professional of the Year

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – One Marine student here was recently recognized as the Department of Defense Language Professional of the Year. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center student, Marine Sgt. Zachary Coates, is a Middle East Cryptologic Linguist who hails, from Kansas City, Kan. Coates enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2006 and graduated from the Modern Standard Arabic Basic Course in August 2008. For his follow-on training, Coates was stationed with the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion in Fort Gordon, Ga. In his time there, he provided support to the Global War on Terrorism and Overseas Contingency Operations, eventually deploying to a cryptologic support team in July 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning in January 2011, Coates assumed a squad leader position while resuming his support of Overseas Contingency Operations. Coates explained that his duties did not allow him to practice his language skills while deployed with his team, and that it is generally difficult to retain language proficiency when that happens. However, he did retain proficiency, which was extremely beneficial to his unit when he returned. Because of his outstanding performance, Coates received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in recognition of his selection as Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion Language Professional of the Year, as well as a Joint Service Achievement Medal, his second, for the beneficial impact of his work throughout his time at his unit. Shortly thereafter, Coates was selected as the 2011 Marine Corps Language Professional of the Year, later being chosen as the 2011 Department of Defense Language Professional of the Year from among all four branches...
Top defense intelligence official says language central to new defense strategy

Top defense intelligence official says language central to new defense strategy

MONTEREY, Calif. – The under secretary of defense for intelligence, Dr. Michael G. Vickers, was pleasantly surprised Nov. 3 when he encountered his former Spanish instructor at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center while observing a Spanish language class. “Although I was able to understand what was being discussed during the class, I was also a little bit worried because I thought I was going to be re-tested in Spanish, which has atrophied somewhat,” said Vickers with a chuckle. “It was wonderful to see my old student. When I saw his face, it all came back to me,” said Dr. Deanna Tovar, who had just begun her career as a Spanish instructor in the late 1970s and is today dean of the European and Latin American school. “She was a great instructor and I am not surprised to see her as the dean of the school and that she has done so well,” said Vickers. As a young Special Forces soldier and then officer, Vickers graduated from the DLIFLC Czech course in 1977 and Spanish course in 1979 with top scores. His unique experience at the Institute has influenced him throughout his career. Vickers has been credited for contributing to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s. More recently, he was recognized as a key leader in the process that led to planning, locating, and killing the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden. “When I was here for Czech, my professor told us that language is the most intimate expression of a nation’s culture. I know DLI really teaches culturally-based language instruction, and I...

71st Anniversary Ball

More than 350 guests attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center 71st Anniversary Ball on Nov. 3, held at the Naval Postgraduate School’s historic Herrmann Hall Ballroom. “We were pleased that so many of DLIFLC’s faculty and staff attended the event. This is a unique opportunity for instructors to attend a ball, interact with the Institute’s leadership, and have fun,” said Ben De La Selva, president of the DLI Alumni Association, and sponsor of the ball. The guest speaker at the event, Dr. Michael G. Vickers, currently under secretary of defense for intelligence, graduated twice from DLIFLC, the Czech course in 1977 and the Spanish course in 1979. Story and Photo Credits: Story by Natela Cutter, Strategic Communications Photo: Chair person of the Multi-language Department, at the European and Latin American School, Ms. Saliha Murtic dances with the Language Technology Specialist Mr. Branislav Indjic. (Courtesy Natela...

Homework Korean Style

MONTEREY, Calif. – Students from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California made a big splash at the Korean annual video contest at their school on Oct. 4. They created their own version of “Oppan Gangnam Style” in Korean – about student life at DLIFLC, complete with students and Korean instructors dancing to the tunes of PSY’s video which has gone viral. The video, called Homework Korean Style, was produced and edited by Air Force Maj. Marcos Baca, while the performers in the video are Baca’s classmates, instructors and even the school dean. While it was initially planned as a depiction of how difficult life is as a Korean language student at the Institute, the work eventually turned out to be an entertainment video that won 3rd place in the contest, mainly owing to the factthe first two awards were given to those whose videos presented more language and less polished cinematic value. “Initially we were going to make an exaggerated account about how miserable our lives at DLI were while we were learning Korean: no social life, no sleep, more homework than any mere mortal could ever accomplish in a given day,” explained Baca. “However, when the camera started rolling, we began to experience an unexplained increase in morale. We smiled for the first time in months, and we started actually looking forward to each day.” The Korean language program at DLIFLC is 64 weeks long. Students are in class five days a week, six to seven hours per day, with two to three hours of homework each night. The lessons move at lightning speed,...
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