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DLIFLC's Language Day: Sharing Culture and Language Outside of the Classroom

Military students from DLIFLC perform a cultural dance during Language Day
Military students from the Defense Language Institute perform a cultural dance during Language Day, a public event dedicated to honoring and celebrating the diversity of culture onboard the Presidio of Monterey. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Shelby Sims)

Last Friday, May 10th, marked the DLIFLC’s annual Language Day, a celebration of languages and cultures from around the globe. Each year, the Presidio of Monterey allows the public inside to experience music, dance, food, and other cultural displays. According to DLI’s Mission Public Affairs Office, over 6,000 people attended this year’s Language Day.

Seventeen languages are taught at DLIFLC by instructors from over 90 countries, leading to a diverse display of dances in particular. One student studying Egyptian Arabic discussed both the entertainment- and storytelling-value of belly dancing, and how “the dance they performed for Language Day, involving men and women, was a love story about the country, Egypt.”

Other performances included a Chinese dragon dance, a Korean “k-pop” dance, Levantine poetry, and a Middle Eastern fashion show. Visitors could also view cultural displays from China, Afghanistan, France, Iran, and many others, as well as take part in both fun and educational activities such as Arabic calligraphy and Mahjong. Presentations on Spanish pronunciation, Russian culture and expressions, and the art of Chinese tea were offered as well.

Attendees could enjoy all of the events throughout the day, but sessions geared toward educators were also in abundance. These presentations were specific to “best practices, strategies and technology applications,” and included topics such as gamification for enhancing learning engagement, language learning strategies using social media, and intercultural classroom activities.

The students at DLIFLC are active military personnel, so opening the gates to let the public in to experience a little of what the school has to offer is a welcome celebration for both the students and the surrounding community. Local station KSBW interviewed a few of the elementary schoolers who attended to get their take on Language Day. One 8-year-old stated that “it’s very cool because I get to learn about new cultures and I actually get to eat new food.” A fourth grader was also enamored with the food: “We went to this French thing and they had a bunch of different kinds of cheese in there. And it was really yummy.”

Did you attend DLIFLC’s Language Day this year, or have you attended or participated in the past? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter about your experience. And if you want to see more of the events, you can watch the livestream of the entire day on DLIFLC’s YouTube.


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