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SHAPE??. SHAPE??. Superb Holidays At Public Expense!. Immersion Programs at the Defense Language Institute DLIFLC, USA Betty Lou Leaver, PhD, Provost Detlev Kesten, Associate Provost for Academic Support

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Immersion Programs

at the Defense Language Institute


Betty Lou Leaver, PhD, ProvostDetlev Kesten, Associate Provost for Academic Support

(as presented by Steve Henly – Swedish National Defence College – at the BILC Professional Seminar, Stockholm October 2013)


OCONUS Immersion: Overview

From August 2005 to July 25, 2013:

  • 234 OCONUS programs
  • 2,071 participants
  • 16 countries/regions
  • 70 +% for Arabic, Chinese and Korean

No. of Events

  • 59 Korea
  • 41 China
  • 25 Egypt
  • 27 Ukraine
  • 13 Jordan
  • 16 Puerto Rico
  • 24 Morocco
  • 10 Taiwan
  • 5 Turkey
  • 3 Tajikistan
  • 3 Russia
  • 3 France
  • 2 Chile
  • 1 Costa Rica
  • 1 Philippines
  • 1 India

(Inactive sites )


OCONUS: ILO Responsibilities

  • Pre-program:
    • Identify and set up new sites (Embassy guidance, site visit)
    • Student selection (academic and military conduct)
    • Curriculum development
    • Pre-departure briefings
    • Country Clearance, Funding Request
    • Travel arrangement (DTS, international and domestic transportation)
  • During-program:
    • Daily SITREP
  • Post-program:
    • Documentation of students’ progress
      • Pre- and post-immersion Diagnostic Assessment (DA) tests
      • End of course DLPT scores
      • OCONUS self-assessment questionnaire
      • After Action Reports
    • Quality control and program improvement
a typical oconus program
A Typical OCONUS Program
  • Program Length:
    • 4-6 weeks for Basic Course students
      • China and Korea: 6 weeks
      • Other countries: 4 weeks
    • 2-4 weeks for Intermediate/Advanced students
      • New program: 2 weeks
      • Established programs: 3-4 weeks
  • Group Composition:
    • Group of 10, including a Group Leader (MLI or highest-rank student)
  • Time to attend OCONUS immersion
    • Usually at the beginning of the 3rd semester

OCONUS CurriculumBasic Course

  • Intensive language and culture instruction/training (30-35 hours/week)
  • Daily homework (1-2 hours)
  • Field trips/Guest lectures (more in-depth discussions with local professionals in area study contents)
  • Cultural excursions (weekend day trips)
  • Home-stay in most countries

(Korea, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Ukraine…)

  • On/off campus student housing (dorm, apartments)

(China, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Jordan…)


OCONUS CurriculumIntermediate/Advanced Courses

  • Academic experience emulates that of a native student
    • Same lectures as native students (language not adjusted)
    • In university classrooms with university professors
    • Lunch & free time spent on campus with university students
  • Academic support
    • DLIFLC teacher accompanies & assists with strategies for intensive reading (up to 20 pages per day, authentic ILR Level 4-5)
    • Native students as peer tutors and big brothers/sisters
  • Daily homework (1-2 hours)
  • Field trips on topics related to curriculum
    • e.g., Jordan: tribal law lecture, field trip to law office & to sheikh
    • Weekend excursions to cultural artificacts
  • Home-stay in most countries

Effect of Immersion:

Increased Language Proficiency

  • Basic course immersion students outperform others:
    • At 2/2/1+, 92% (immersion) vs. 78% (non-immersion)
    • At 2+/2+/2, 41% (immersion) vs. 33% (non-immersion)
    • Immersion group is 14% higher in listening comprehension
  • Intermediate & Advanced students typically gain ½ proficiency point in all four skills, as determined by diagnostic assessment, in 2-4 weeks
  • Immersion effect detected after a 4-week stay in country for basic course, 2-4 weeks for I/A students (researchers usually call for 6-12 months to detect effect)

OCONUS Self-Assessment Results (N=1,110)

  • Confidence in using the language 3.62
  • Motivation in using the language 3.60
  • Understanding culture 3.60
  • Improving overall proficiency 3.58
  • Taking linguistic risks 3.56
  • Less anxiety in speaking to NS 3.55
  • Using communication strategies 3.53
  • Tolerance of linguistic unknown 3.39
  • Using available resources for learning 3.24
  • Making decisions about learning 3.18

4 = maximum benefits, 1 = minimum benefits


Future Plans:Maximize the Immersion Effect

  • Increase OCONUS participation from 5% to 20% of DLI students between FY11 and FY15, with RMD700 funding
  • Establish new immersion sites to accommodate program growth
  • Expand hosting capacity at established sites
  • Enhance program quality

FTX Overview

(isolated immersion at DLI facility)


  • First 3-day iso-immersion conducted in 2003
  • Dedicated Immersion Facility in April 2006

Full implementation:

  • FTX is part of the basic curriculum for Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Persian/Farsi
  • Category IV languages conduct three

events (Semester I, Semester II,

and Semester III)

  • Other languages conduct one or two

events in Semester II and Semester III

ftx ilo responsibilities
FTX: ILO Responsibilities
  • Pre-program
    • Scheduling
    • Coordinating transportation, food, supplies
    • Materials development and collection
    • Assisting w/set-up
  • During-Program
    • Student services
      • Briefing, checking students in/out
      • Picking up lunches
      • Technology and emergency support
  • Post-Program
    • Evaluation (collecting and analyzing ISOQs)
    • Program Improvement
  • On going
    • Facility maintenance
    • Purchasing program supplies (office supplies and culture decorations)

FTX Activities

  • Target Language Only
  • Expansion of classroom learning
  • Military and FLO content
  • Simulating real life
  • Problem solving

(linguistic, cultural,

high-level thinking skills)


Activities with Military Content

More military content since FY08. Sample topics:

  • Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW), Humanitarian Relief Operation (HUMRO), or Non-combatant Evacuation (NEO)
  • Military to Military Joint Exercises, Training, Exchange
  • Civil Affairs/ Reconstruction
  • Base Camp Assessment
  • Local Incidents

FTX/Immersion: Student Feedback

  • “This one day was worth a month of classes because I was forced to communicate, rather than concentrate on being correct.” (Arabic Student)
  • “I got back from my China immersion a week ago and this was a similar environment.” (Chinese student)
  • “It was relieving to know that I can survive a day only in Chinese. I feel much more confident about speaking Chinese as a result.” (Chinese Student)
  • “The investigation into the Lebanese weapon smuggling was thoroughly enjoyable and we were able to use all skills.” (Arabic Student)

The immersion experience is far superior to normal classroom activities as far as experience gained compared to time and energy expended. If these kind of evolutions could be included more in the curriculum of the language program, it would be of immeasurable value to the language student. (Korean student)

  • “I learned a lot about job related tasks and skills. It\'s refreshing to shy away from the textbook and experience challenging and job related activities.” (Korean Student)

Immersion Programs

at the Defense Language Institute


Betty Lou Leaver, PhD, ProvostDetlev Kesten, Associate Provost for Academic Support

(as presented by Steve Henly – Swedish National Defence College – at the BILC Professional Seminar, Stockholm October 2013)