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Conversation with a Curricularist Presentation

A Quick Review of the Curriculum

for Chinese Language Program at the
Defense Language Institute (DLI)
Cong-Kai (Kyle) Jin

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development


Defense Language Institute (DLI), located in Presidio of

Monterey, California, is a very unique educational
institution under the Department of Defense (DoD).

DLI has exceptional performance and reputation in foreign

language training programs.

DLI is dubbed by many as the Language Capital of the


EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Introduction: (continued)

If we are to study an educational program systematically

and intelligently we must first be sure as to the
educational objectives aimed at (Tyler, 1949, p.3).

DLIs mission is to provide culturally based foreign

language education, training, evaluation and sustainment
to enhance the security of the nation.

DLIs vision is to deliver the worlds best culturally based

foreign language education and training at the point of

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Conversation Process:

Informal conversational interview with Ms. Jenny Williams

(pseudonym was used to protect the confidentiality of the
interviewee) in June, 2015, regarding her thoughts on the
curriculum of Chinese language instruction used in DLI.

Ms. Williams is a Mandarin Chinese language instructor and

Assistant Professor of DLI in Monterey, California.

Disclaimer: All information Ms. Williams disclosed during

interview is her personal opinion only and for background
reference, not in any way being considered as the official
position of the DLI or other federal government agencies.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development


Curriculum of DLIs Chinese language programs takes a

very traditional approach which heavily focuses on
subject-matter and the needs of society (i.e., national
security) as confirmed by DLIs official mission statement.

DLIs curriculum planning and development is a strict

top-down process.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Findings: (continued)

DLIs curriculum also featured with repeated tests and

exams (e.g., OPI and DLPT5) as measures of evaluation of
students performance.

One lesson every three days; conduct one mid-unit exam

after every three completed lessons, then one unit exam
after six lessons. All exams include three parts (i.e.,
listening, reading and speaking) of tests.

If a student failed three times in a row with scores lower

than 74 points at the same part of three consecutive unit
exams, the student will be dis-enrolled and expelled from

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Findings: (continued)

greatest controversy among DLI faculty

members regarding the curriculum of language
instruction in DLI is: Whether teaching is for
students to pass the tests.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Findings: (continued)

Fact: DLIs current curriculum emphasizes on test-based

language proficiency performance.

However, some DLI faculty members are trying to :

Integrate more student-centered considerations into the

curriculum design;

Inspire students genuine interests in language learning and

make them delight in their learning experience;

Attain the goals of achieving high language proficiency

performance as is always expected in the curriculum design
of DLI.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development


DLI is not a school promoting liberal arts education, nor is

it a school taking progressive educational approach.

DLI is not a regular college or university addressing

academic performance, but a military education
institution focusing on language proficiency performance.

DLI is a world renowned professional military training

facility with clear objective to provide culturally based
foreign language education, training, evaluation and
sustainment to enhance the security of the nation as its
mission statement.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Conclusion: (continued)

Under such context, it makes sense that the current

curriculum of DLI has a strong flavor of traditional
approach and thus is a more subject-matter and society
needs based platform.

However, given DLI already has an outstanding language

training program, I believe what can be done to better it
off, at least, is that more attention and considerations
should be placed on students learning experience, beside
the well calibrated focus on subject matter and the needs
of society, in the equilibrium of curriculum development.

EDCI 803: Curriculum Development

Thank you!