Former CIA Director Speaks of Importance of Culture Immersion

Staff and faculty of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA were recently visited by former director of the Central Intelligence Agency National Clandestine Service, Frank Archibald. Archibald held the position from May 2013 until January, 2015.

During a speech to the faculty, Archibald explained the importance of language and culture in his career with the CIA and encouraged teachers to push their students to become more proficient in these areas. He spoke about the power of the individual, especially in today’s technological society. “Technology can be a power for good or a power for evil,” Archibald said.

Archibald’s national security career took him to places like Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) where he would visit eastern cities that typically did not receive visits from Embassy officials. These immersion trips sharpened his language skills and gave him a greater understanding of the various cultures. In his speech, Archibald related his experiences with these immersion trips stressing the importance of learning not just the spoken language of another culture, but also the body language. “These things often become lost through use of interpreters,” he said.

Archibald asked teachers to remind students that language fluency is a lifelong effort. He called the ability to speak a foreign language and understand a different culture a gift that can be enjoyed throughout a lifetime. He also stressed that this type of achievement takes a commitment from both teachers and students.

The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey is one of several training facilities throughout Europe, Korea and the United States. It is part of the Department of Defense (DoD). The Monterey attachment provides resident instruction in 23 languages and since 1941 it has graduated over 220,000 linguists. The Washington D.C. location has the capacity to instruct in an additional 65 languages.


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