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DLIFLC students compete in Korean speech contest
MONTEREY, Calif. - More than 400 students crammed into the Tin Barn Auditorium to cheer for their language gladiators during this year’s Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center 10th Annual Korean Speech Contest, June 22.

Thirteen competitors recited speeches with topics ranging from educational differences between U.S. and Korean schools to food choices in Korea. To qualify to represent their section, students were required to go through a preliminary round within their class, and then compete against others in their department.

U.S. Army Spc. Brad Baughman, who won the Korean Consulate General’s Special Award, seemed to have the audience in an uproar of laughter throughout most of his speech, which was about his experiences teaching Korean to kindergarten students while living in Korea.

According to Baughman, the Korean program and in-course exercises, like the speech contest, have given him insight into the minds of Koreans.

“Because our instructors are Korean-natives, they’re not only teaching us the language, but we’re learning about the way they think,” said Baughman.

According to DLIFLC Provost Dr. Donald Fischer, the Korean speech contest is a testament to the dedication of the Korean school. “I’m amazed at the speaking competence of the students competing today,” Fischer said.

Fischer also joked about the mentality of the Korean school and how its students survive the 64-week course that is widely considered the toughest academic challenge these students will ever face.

“Despite having sunken-in eyes and (being in a state of) abject terror while walking around campus, Korean students have the best senses of humor, make the best videos and have the greatest speeches,” Fischer said.

The school’s leadership paused at the beginning of the speech contest to remember the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War and to explain the reasons for the contest.

“Korean is one of the most difficult languages to master, and that is why we like to show off the students’ hard work,” said dean of the Korean School, Clive Roberts.

“The Korean school is setting a great example for other schools that don’t do this [contest]. Events like this make me proud to be the Commandant of the Defense Language Institute,” said DLIFLC Commandant Col. Danial Pick.

According to Airman 1st Class Garrett Myler, his speech took him out of his comfort zone in more ways than just academically. “I was pretty nervous but it was a great opportunity … I sing pretty often, but never on stage or in front of this many people,” said Myler, who sang “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” in Korean.

Story and photos by

Brian Lamar, Strategic Communications

Photo 1: DLIFLC Korean language students show their support for one of their friends during the 10th annual Korean Speech Contest, held June 22 at the Tin Barn on the Presidio of Monterey. (U.S. Army photo by Brian Lamar)

Photo 2: Winners of the 10th Annual Korean Speech Contest stand for applause along with the DLIFLC Provost, various leaders from the Korean school and members of the Korean Fan Dance team. (U.S. Army photo by Brian Lamar)
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