Offutt gets a state-of-the-art Language Learning Center

  • Published
  • By Brian Kim
  • Offutt Language Learning Center
"I've made it through the basic program, now how do I maintain and improve these skills?" wondered Airman First Class Stephen Jennings, who recently finished the basic Korean course with a Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) score of 2+/2+/2. This question is the most commonly heard refrain from Air Force language analysts who have graduated from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) and are heading out into the world.

After upwards of 64 weeks of intensive language training, these Airmen are proud of the skills they have acquired and are anxious to improve their language proficiency and learn more about the cultures they have studied. Most go on to assignments at locations with well-established, joint service language schools but for the Airman heading to Offutt Air Force Base, this was not the case, at least not until 2005.
In 2005, the Air Force committed to building its first Language Learning Center (LLC) with an eye toward hosting Mobile Training Teams and the building of a Language Training Detachment (LTD) in cooperation with DLIFLC.

Flash forward to 2008 and find that Offutt AFB is home to a state-of-the-art language learning facility offering intermediate to advanced level classes in over 10 different languages. The Offutt LLC now offers four-week intermediate to advanced-level courses taught by eight regular DLIFLC LTD faculty members and eight Air Combat Command Military Language Instructors.

"Thanks to the outstanding collaboration between DLI and the Air Force, the Offutt AFB LLC has become the gold standard for establishing new LTDs around the world," said Assistant Provost and Dean of Students Lt. Col. Mark Witzel, at the DLIFLC Continuing Education Directorate (CE) in Seaside, Calif. DLIFLC's CE directorate manages LTD instructors working at some 13 different military
installations worldwide.

The Offutt LLC is the Air Force's first dedicated language training center. Officially opened in Jan. 2005 by then 55th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. John Koziol, the center has since trained over 500 language professionals from all branches of the services.

At the core, the LLC is focused on placing every possible tool in the hands of its instructors to conduct the most meaningful and beneficial language training possible. For the last two years that has meant establishing the most high-tech, flexible infrastructure possible.

Starting in 2005 with five classrooms containing semi interactive whiteboards and a few VCR and DVD players, the LLC expanded through early 2007 to seven classrooms which today have full interactive whiteboard capability using SmartBoards,TM and a range of multi-media devices.

In the last year, the LLC established its wireless commercial broadband network and added multiple wireless laptop computers to each classroom.

Recently, with the help of DLIFLC's CE directorate, the LLC has been able to place a wireless Broadband Language Training System (BLTS) package on the desk of each instructor enabling him/her to reach back to DLIFLC for discussions with their counterparts or reach forward to students at units around the globe for virtual "office hours" or formal instruction.

To address all angles of language proficiency, along with training and resources, the LLC worked closely with the Base Test Control Officer (TCO), and built a one-of-akind DLPT5 computer based test center. This center typically tests 10 to 15 people on a weekly basis and can surge to over 100 tests per week if required.

"Since this testing center was built by folks who tested DLPTs and conduct DLPT testing, all possible avenues into examinee comfort, test center environmental management, and test security were researched and a first rate testing facility was created," said Shirley Demont, Offutt TCO.

"The best part of having a test center at the LLC is that tests can be scheduled independently of standard promotion testing cycles," said Julie Gallinger, Offutt Test Examiner.

Editors note This article was posted in DLIFLC Globe magazine Summer 2008 issue