The military defense language school has been around since the 1946 in Monterey California. It began during World War II to teach Japanese to students at the Presidio in San Francisco to help carefully chosen United States Soldiers how to speak the Japanese language for use against the Japanese Imperial Army. It later evolved into a school to teach different languages during the 1970’s and got the current name of Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. With the faculty of around 700 people it has one of the largest group of native speaking instructors found outside of the home countries that the languages are from. The DLI, as it is know in the San Francisco Bay area, currently teaches courses in over two dozen different languages to students from the Army, other Armed Forces military students, National Agency representatives, and selected students from allied nations from around the world.
The length of courses varies from 25 weeks to an extreme length of 63 weeks, and it all depends on the difficulty of the language attempted. Basic courses in romance languages run about 25 weeks, while courses in Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic lasts more than a year apiece. The Defense Language Institute is the school that a person must prove that they are competent in to become a foreign language interpreter. Some native language speakers do not need anything at all, the go to the DLI and prove they are fluent in speaking and writing and listening to their language, others need a refresher course, while some students start from scratch. Students from the DFI are graduated and serve in each of the five United States Armed Forces, as interpreters and language specialists.
The facilities of the Defense Language Institute is impressive, featuring more than 1,000 faculty offices and classroom spaces. It boasts 50 audio and computer language labs, and 8 full state of the Art computer labs for advanced language study. It has a large supply of foreign language films and programs and a large amount of media materials in all the different languages they teach.
In addition to teaching materials and languages to military personnel, they also provide training to law enforcement agencies in several agencies in language instruction. The end of the cold war meant a decrease in the number of Russian students, while the rise in the Middle East conflicts meant an increase of Arabic language instruction.