Our Teaching Methodology
Welcome to the Defense Critical Language and Culture Program (DCLCP)! As faculty members and staff we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring your success in mastering a new language and understanding a foreign culture. We encourage you to take this valuable opportunity to eat, breathe, and sleep your target language and ‘rub elbows’ with your classmates and instructors. In the end we think you will agree that learning foreign languages is a richly rewarding experience that pays endless dividends in your professional and personal life.
Before you begin your class, we ask that you take time to familiarize yourself with our classroom policies, resources, and the course syllabus.
The Defense Critical Language and Culture Program at the University of Montana is dedicated to providing superlative language and cultural training for Department of Defense customers, to include those stationed in the CONUS and those deploying to environments as diverse as the African Sahel, southern Afghanistan, and the South China Sea.
The Defense Critical Language and Culture Program is funded by the US Department of Defense to provide first-class language and culture training for US military personnel. Currently we offer intensive courses in Arabic (both Modern Standard and Levantine dialect), Persian, Dari, Pashto, Korean, Chinese, and Indonesian at all levels from beginner to the advanced learner. We supplement and enhance our language program with target- and English-language courses on the cultures, geography, politics, and histories of the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Korean Peninsula, China, Indonesia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
From its inception in 2007 the DCLCP has recognized and adjusted to the challenges facing the US military language learner from frequent deployments to monitoring, sustaining, and improving an individual’s foreign language acquisition. Our courses are offered through a wide range of platforms, including synchronous online video teleconferencing, mobile training teams, in-residence training and options that blend a combination of all of the above. We are flexible and adaptable to the needs of our customers in the core areas of course content, length, location, and timing.
Our Teaching Approach
Our approach to language acquisition pivots on the following principle: we facilitate learning not by lecturing but through student-centered activities. This does not mean our instructors are passive players in the language learning process; on the contrary, they devote considerable time before each class to organizing and preparing a learning environment that is focused on the student not the instructor.
We understand that learning success is based on an accurate appraisal of the student’s language ability and learning preferences. Consequently, before language training begins, students take our in-house placement test which evaluates reading, listening, and oral proficiency. In addition, students take the CL150 or ODA Reading Assessment as part of their initial placement test. This intensive process helps us gauge the individual language learner’s proficiency; it also enables us to craft our course to meet a specific student’s needs.
The benefits of extensive instructor preparation and the initial evaluation process are readily apparent when the language course begins. From day one students enter a novel classroom setting where target language use is imperative: even for beginning language learners our instructors strive to use the target language to explain grammatical concepts, pronunciation principles, and cultural nuances. We emphasize language use not endless repetition of verb conjugation tables or word memorization drills. Our students build and expand their vocabulary through role-playing scenarios, games, and by listening to or reading from ‘real world’ texts that are matched to students’ professional needs.
In addition to their academic training, most of our native speaker instructors have directly experienced the joys and frustrations of adapting to foreign cultures and learning new languages. They appreciate that different students learn in different ways. Therefore, movies, games, and television shows are employed to enhance language acquisition and ensure that each day is not a predictable repetition of the previous one. In short, we believe that learning languages should be fun and interactive not dull and one-sided.
All DCLCP instructors are native speakers with extensive home country experience. They are educated in-country in the relevant discipline background and have extensive experience as language instructors before coming to Missoula. Perhaps most importantly, they have extensive experience both as language learners and language teachers. Many are also certified OPI testers.
Culture and Regional Studies
We supplement and enhance language training with courses that focus on the cultures, politics, history, economies, and national security strategies of key states in Asia and Africa. For intermediate and especially advanced learners, we employ the target language to convey the information via class discussions, brief instructor lectures, video clips, and organized debates. For our basic language learners, we offer English-language regional studies lectures which are intended to supplement their language learning and broaden their knowledge. Our instructors have developed cultural and regional studies modules that are not only oriented to a certain part of the world (East Asia or the Middle East, for example) but focus on individual states as well. We strive to make our culture and regional studies lectures timely, interesting and relevant to better match the needs of our students.
Student success is always our number one priority. DCLCP instructors are available for ‘off-line’ tutoring. Please do not hesitate to ask your instructor about these opportunities.
The Defense Critical Language and Culture Program understands that US military personnel often face significant obstacles in acquiring academic degrees due to frequent deployments and changes in duty location. Consequently, we offer college credit from the University of Montana for most of our language and culture course offerings. For those interested in pursuing their degree we offer academic advisors who can assist the student with selecting the appropriate courses and selecting the best strategies to achieve academic success. Academic achievement is as important to us as it should be for our students, and we will work hard to ensure that our students maximize their potential to reach career and academic objectives.