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News | March 16, 2021

DLIELC state-of-the-art labs give international students authentic experience

By Defense Language Institute English Language Center Public Affairs Defense Language Institute English Language Center Public Affairs

Three Chadian Air Force personnel are the first Defense Language Institute English Language Center students to take advantage of the newest curriculum at DLIELC.

This curriculum, pairing the latest virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology, aims to familiarize international students with English communications during aviation scenarios. While the technology immerses the students into various situations, users are able to practice collaborating with one another solely in English.

The three students experienced a sequence of standard pre-flight briefings in February at the Watkins Aviation Language Preparation Room and Sirois Aviation Simulation Laboratory with English Skills for Communications instructors Stan Philbrook and Quentin Murphy. During the flight commander’s in-brief, Kathleen Smith, a fellow instructor, led the students through a review of the day’s flight plan followed by a flight planning familiarization briefing.

“It was a pleasure working with the three aviation students from Chad,” Philbrook noted. “Even though they had no flight hours, they worked very hard and were prepared for the Aviation Sim Lab experience. They seemed to enjoy working with the flight controls and making the necessary radio calls. They felt better prepared for FOT [Follow on Training] at Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma and at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where they will fly the C-130J Hercules. This course will be a great training enhancement for experienced and non-experienced students in the future.”

The students also completed a crew mission and safety briefing and began their first flight using DLI’s new state-of-the-art software and equipment interface. This herculean effort to have the new sim lab up and running during COVID was mainly due to DLIELC’s aviation subject matter expert Terry Harsh and software/curriculum specialist Charles Rich.

Both the Watkins Room and Sirois Laboratory were dedicated in November 2020. It was the first step in a long-term plan by DLIELC to renovate the facility into a world-class aviation language training center.

The Watkins Room serves as the “hangar” bay, with an area for student-led learning, formal language instruction, an instructor pilot briefing table, and other task-based training.

The Sirois Laboratory is considered the “flight line” by creating a fully immersive language training experience. Students are able to learn and experience situations that closely will match the operational and training world.

“We are glad to provide such valuable training to the security cooperation enterprise,” stated Col. Kouji Gillis, DLIELC commandant. “We hope that what is learned here will be used throughout the students’ careers as they move on to make great changes in their respective countries and around the world.”

For more information on the Watkins Room and Sirois Laboratory dedication, please see the previously published article at

For more information on two of the Chadian students that participated in the aforementioned curriculum, please see the published article at