It’s taken me 34 years to finally set foot in the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Several of my college language professors had worked for the OSS (predecessor to the CIA), Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, and Radio Marti, and thought my love of languages made me a natural for their old intelligence community. Despite some flattering feelers from the CIA, I thought my linguistic aptitude would be better spent in a classroom. However, I always wondered what it would have been like to learn a language in six months and use it to gather information for the good old USA. A high school classmate did it after he was drafted. Despite growing up in a Hispanic household, he came out here to Monterey to learn Russian and a Ukrainian dialect so he could spend a year in a damp basement at the wall in Berlin listening to the guards’ chatter in the east. He also lived in constant fear of being kidnapped. So much for the glamorous life of a multilingual spy!
I was with a team of Apple Distinguished Educators who got to tour the facility and visit with the faculty and (young!) service men and women. The languages have changed considerably since my cold war days graduation: Pashto, Dari, Urdu. And they’re changing so fast they have to invent the curriculum as they go. Talk about just in time learning AND teaching!! We are just finishing up our project on preparing students for world language study, "The World in my Backyard," to present to the rest of the group this afternoon. As soon as we’re "out of beta," I’ll invite you to take a look and give it a try with your students.