Elite US Military Language School Drops Hebrew – The Forward

(JTA) — The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, the elite U.S. Army language school in Monterey, Calif., is removing Hebrew from its list of languages ​​due to low demand.

Natela Cutter, spokesperson for the institute, said Tuesday that the current course would be the last in Monterey, but the language would still be available through contractors in the Washington DC area, a system used for languages. that were removed from the Monterey. course in recent years.

She said the last time the school cut languages, in 2016, five were cut: Turkish, Hindi, German, Portuguese and Serbo-Croatian. Foreign Policy in 2019 reported that the institute cut classes after the Trump administration diverted military funds to the wall Trump had planned between Mexico and the United States.

Steven Collins, chief of staff at the Defense Language Institute, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the demand for Hebrew in the military had fallen below the threshold needed to maintain a course.

“We close a language when we can’t maintain a team of teachers (6 instructors) – so we need at least 18 consistent students throughout for a language to continue in Monterey,” he said. declared. “In the case of Hebrew, the Services decided that they would not send any more students to learn Hebrew.”

The institute, considered the most successful language-learning venture in the English-speaking world and housed at the Presidio of Monterey, a US Army installation, currently offers 16 courses, including four in dialects of Arabic.

The Hebrew course lasts 48 weeks. Cutter said the teachers – currently numbering 12 – would likely get other jobs at the institute or elsewhere in the military.

Cutter didn’t know how many people were currently studying Hebrew; Monterey County Weekly, analyzing the school’s course load based on Freedom of Information Act requests, said last year that between 30 and 40 people were taking Hebrew. The course has been offered since 1986.

The institute teaches languages ​​to 2,500 service members at any one time.

The Monterey County Weekly report said the likely genesis of Hebrew learning was the intensification of US-Israeli military cooperation under the Reagan administration.

The institute was established in 1963, bringing together language schools in the various departments that had been launched on the eve of World War II. It moved to a single campus in Monterey in 1974.

Monterey, as the school is commonly known among its graduates, taught as many as 40 languages ​​in the 1980s when the Cold War was underway.

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