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Egyptian commandant shares language learning insight

MONTEREY, Calif. – Maj. Gen. Adel Youssef Mahmoud El Sherif, commandant of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense Language Institute, met with staff and students from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center during a two-day visit, May 30 and 31.

Sherif witnessed a demonstration of the latest technology being used in the classrooms, observed language immersions in progress, and had the chance to meet with a group of Foreign Area Officers studying Arabic.

During his discussions with the students and staff about the importance of learning a language and military linguists, Sherif repeated an Egyptian military saying, “a negotiator without a language is like a warrior without a weapon.”

He also stressed the importance of culture as part of the language learning process by saying, “He who speaks the language learns the culture; he who learns the culture becomes friends; and he who becomes friends lives in peace.”

In Sherif’s final thought to the group of FAOs, he explained that even though Egyptian culture is completely different [from American culture], “if you respect their culture, they will respect you.”

During previous visits to DLIFLC, Maj. Gen. Sherif took ideas from the testing department and recently developed an exam to help his Egyptian students pass the English test required for foreign military officers to come to the U.S. to study.

In addition, Egypt’s MODLI has adapted a lot of lessons learned over the years from Sherif’s interactions with DLIFLC and language schools in other countries. His institute has numerous personal computers set up for distance learning and his students are accepting the technology as fast as it is being introduced.

Col. Danial D. Pick, commandant of DLIFLC, welcomed the dialogue and stated, “We’re always looking to exchange ideas, and learn from our colleagues and our partners.”

Sherif’s feelings towards DLIFLC were best summed up with his comment to Pick, “What I have seen today, you have to be very proud of your program.”

Story and photo by:

Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette, Strategic Communications

Photo 1: Maj. Gen. Adel Youssef Mahmoud El Sherif, commandant of the Egyptian Defense Language Institute, meets with DLIFLC Commandant, Col. Danial Pick, May 30, at the beginning of a two-day visit. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette)

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