DLIFLC students win again in Chinese speech contest

DLIFLC students win again in Chinese speech contest

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   SAN FRANCISCO – Chinese language students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center participated in the 43nd Annual Mandarin Speech contest in San Francisco April 28, with 38 DLIFLC students winning awards. “Our students had an excellent performance at the speech contest,” said Dr. Liwei Gao, assistant dean of DLIFLC’s Asian School I. “This is among the best results that we have ever achieved in recent years.” Of the 38 awards, seven won first place awards; five won second place; six won third place and 20 received honorable mention in the contest organized by the Chinese Language Teachers Association of California with the purpose of fostering good language skills in Mandarin. About 400 registered contestants from schools and universities in the Northern California area participated in this contest, in which the DLIFLC students competed with students from U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, U.C. Irvine, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and many others. During the day-long competition, the largest of its kind outside of China, students deliver a three to five-minute speech which they wrote, memorized, and delivered on their own, on any topic the student chose appropriate to his or her level of training. Following the speech portion and prior to the awards, Chinese language students perform songs, dances or poetry relevant to the history and culture of China. Established in 1962, CLTAC, is a nonpolitical, nonprofit educational and professional organization that seeks to promote the study, teaching and research of the Chinese language and culture and provides a platform for Chinese instructors to share and exchange teaching...
Learning Chinese calligraphy benefits language study

Learning Chinese calligraphy benefits language study

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center who are studying Chinese can also practice calligraphy taught by Dr. Li-Yuan “Joan” Liao, an instructor at the Institute with a strong background in the art. “The regular students who come to my class every Thursday are eager to write with the brush and ink and they feel like the 45-minute class flies by too fast,” said Liao. “I really appreciate our schoolhouse in providing this opportunity for our students to explore the core of Chinese culture.” Part of the mission of DLIFLC is to provide the highest quality culturally based foreign language training with the teaching of culture as an integral part of foreign language instruction. So, in January 2018, Liao received support from Chao Xie, chairperson of Chinese Department B, to lead and teach Chinese calligraphy as an extracurricular activity. “Based on my observation and the feedback I collected from both learners and their instructors, all the students from Dr. Liao’s Chinese calligraphy club have better academic performance in their own class,” said Xie. “They are getting more motivated to learn Chinese language and they have a deeper understanding of Chinese culture as well.” As one of the oldest written scripts in the world, Chinese characters remain in use today with calligraphy still being widely taught and practiced. Chinese characters are taken from nature, with the character of the sun being a picture of the sun and the moon a picture of the moon, for example. The emphasis is on fitting in with nature. Liao started the class...
Top DLIFLC instructor is TRADOC NCO Instructor of the Year

Top DLIFLC instructor is TRADOC NCO Instructor of the Year

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Staff Sgt. Alex Rababah, the Military Language Instructor of the Year for 2017 at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, won the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command annual Instructor of the Year competition in the non-commissioned officer category for 2017. “It was an honor to win this competition knowing the caliber of those who enter this contest,” said Rababah “I competed against NCOs from all 37 TRADOC schools, mostly Advanced Individual Training instructors, but all of whom were extremely competent.” TRADOC applied a very comprehensive selection methodology to identify and select the most highly qualified nominees. The final winners would be chosen by a virtual selection panel, but Rababah faced one problem that other TRADOC schools would not. His teaching video in his Arabic class would have to be transcribed for the judges. Fortunately, a viable solution was found. Rababah was able to submit video of himself teaching the Army’s foundation instructor/facilitator course to the Army National Guard in San Luis Obispo, California, but it would also mean he would be teaching Soldiers whom he just met for the first time. Needless to say, Rababah was nervous. “After the 45-minute mark we took a break and I got a lot of positive feedback from the students,” said Rababah. “After it was over I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.” Rababah was grateful for the Guardsmen’s encouragement, which reminded him of what he tells his own students. “I tell them every single day not to be afraid. From my own experience...
For the joy of teaching, instructor reflects on 50+ years

For the joy of teaching, instructor reflects on 50+ years

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – In 1961 the world was different than it is today. John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, and the first U.S. helicopters arrived in Saigon, South Vietnam, along with 400 personnel. And, at San Francisco State University, a young Siham Munir just finished his master’s degree in international relations and would soon begin a more than 50-year teaching career that is still going strong today. Munir, who is originally from Iraq, was concerned about his student visa status in the U.S. after graduation. A revolution in 1958 overthrew the monarchy in Iraq and Munir had “decided it’s not worth going back.” Then, while attending a party in San Francisco, he met another Iraqi who turned out to be a department chairperson from the Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey. “He told me they need instructors to teach Arabic and that I should apply,” said Munir. “I never heard of it before, this Army Language School. I told him about my status and he said just apply and we will handle the rest.” Munir applied and soon began teaching Arabic to service members at the Presidio where he discovered the joys of teaching. The curriculum was to teach the Iraqi dialect in the morning and Modern Standard Arabic in the afternoon. “Teaching is not a difficult thing if you learn how to reach a student,” said Munir, who immediately found himself feeling right at home in his new profession. When Munir began teaching there were only...
Instructor wins Teacher of the Year by tailoring instruction

Instructor wins Teacher of the Year by tailoring instruction

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Seung Baek, a team leader in the Korean School, is the Teacher of the Year for 2017 at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. “To me this was a big surprise,” said Baek, who had forgotten that he was nominated after being named Teacher of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2017 at the Asian School II, which is the Korean School. “Then a few weeks ago the chairperson came to my class and said lets go,” said Baek. He was then taken to Dr. Hiam Kanbar, the associate provost of undergraduate education, who told him of his achievement and congratulated him. Baek was recognized for exceeding excellence based upon several criteria, but most notably for his creation of several authentic listening comprehension materials. Baek noticed that his Foreign Area Officer students began to have more difficulty in listening from the beginning of the second semester, and two students approached him for additional instruction on processing listening comprehension materials. Within 48 hours after the request, Baek designed several listening comprehension modules using resources that were readily available such as YouTube, Korean documentaries from South Korea’s Defense Media Agency, TV news articles, e-books, the Quizlet app, and subtitled all of the materials using video editing software. “This really demonstrates his passion for teaching and we are so happy that we have him with our school,” said Dr. Marina Cobb, dean of Asian School II. Baek said his passion for teaching comes from seeing students reach the “ah-ha moment.” “I get a lot of joy from this whenever I...
Middle East School II hosts Third Annual Student Day

Middle East School II hosts Third Annual Student Day

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – The Middle East School II at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey held its Third Annual Student Day March 28. Student Day consisted of live performances and presentations of winning essays and videos by students who participated in the contests, with the overall winners being presented awards by the DLIFLC commandant, Col. Phil Deppert. Seaman George Bailey, who was the winner of the essay contest, read his essay about his given name and the Arabic name he received in class. “I love both my names – Arabic and English – George Bailey and Bilal,” said Bailey, explaining that both held historical significance. Bailey received his name from his paternal ancestor who fought in the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, leading a battalion of black Soldiers. Similarly, Bilal ibn Rabah was freed from slavery and rose to a position of prominence in 632 AD. Both men were liberators, according to Bailey. “I love all the meanings they carry and I love being loyal to their causes,” said Bailey. Nadir Raffo, the school faculty president, said that instructors from all departments were committed to the students who were interested in participating in the live performances, essay writing or video contests. “They spent numerous hours in addition to their regular teaching hours and they put forth a great effort to accomplish the planned objective,” said Raffo. DLIFLC provides resident instruction in 17 languages at the Presidio of Monterey, California, with the capacity to instruct another 65 languages in Washington, D.C. The Institute has graduated more than...
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