Language & Cultural Training

DLS Language Training

DLS customizes our language training services to adapt to your unique learning needs with full-time, part-time, private, and small-group options. Our programs cover all language levels, from beginner to advanced, from acquisition to sustainment and enhancement. We use a proficiency-based approach to language training that emphasizes communication. Your progress is assessed based on Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) proficiency levels.

When looking to study with DLS, this is what you can expect:

Outstanding training results

In one of our largest ongoing programs, over 94% of students have met their training goals, with 40% exceeding them.
Careful training management and counseling by professional Language Training Supervisors assures student’s successful program performance.

Extraordinary learning experience

Training programs custom-tailored to each student.
Highly qualified and experienced instructors.
Great community of students that you can interact with at DLS events.
Extremely responsive, customer-centric staff.

Culture integrated with language

Intercultural communication training is weaved into our language programs.

Easily accessible, modern facilities

With three locations in the DC Metro Area, our students have an easy commute.

Technology-enhanced training

From language apps to blended learning, we ensure the best approach is followed for each student.

Attentive Student Care

Student services including DLPT and OPI test-taking strategies, webinars on language training tools, student workshops, and organized cultural events.
Regular check-ins to ensure course satisfaction.

Choose the learning format that best suits your needs. DLS offers in-person, virtual, and hybrid learning options, which are tailored to students’ personal preferences and professional goals. All classes are offered one-on-one or in small groups. DLS instructors use a communicative teaching style and task-based teaching methods.

In-person learning involves training face-to-face with an instructor at one of DLS’ three locations in the DC metro area. Classrooms are equipped with whiteboards and computers. Onsite DLS staff are available for support.

Virtual learning happens online with an instructor. Virtual learning can happen in Synchronous or Asynchronous formats. Online DLS staff are available for support.

  • Synchronous learning involves regularly scheduled classes with an instructor that happen via video call. Conveniently learn a language from your preferred location. Learn More.
  • Asynchronous learning involves regular online tasks to complete independently or in groups at one’s convenience, with deadlines, instructor feedback, and a regularly scheduled video call for accountability. Learn More.

Hybrid learning includes both in-person and virtual classes, on a set schedule. This option capitalizes on the benefits of face-to-face language learning while incorporating the convenience of online learning. Onsite and online DLS staff are available for support.

DLS Cultural Training

DLS offers cultural training courses taught by our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who have extensive amounts of cultural experience and knowledge. Our SMEs present insightful information and guidance into the inner workings of each culture. Even more so, DLS believes that true cultural competency is defined by interaction. With this perspective, we have created programs that are hands-on and experiential. Our SMEs provide participants with an abundance of examples and exercises to create a deeper connection to the concepts they are learning.

DLS Language & Cultural Training Videos

Our extensive experience and results speak for themselves — in the last 10 years alone, we have provided over 1.8 million hours of language training, in 85 languages. 40% of our top language training clients have been with us for over 10 years, and we consistently receive excellent student feedback on our training programs. Our courses are for avocational purposes only.

Language & Cultural Training Quick Facts

Languages Taught
Hours Taught in Last 10 Years

AFPAK Language and Cultural Training Program


The Afghanistan-Pakistan (AFPAK) Hands language training program was a high priority of the Department of Defense (DOD). It is viewed by both the DOD and Congress as a powerful tool to help end the terrorist threat in South Asia.


In 2009, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) chose DLS to create and implement Dari, Pashto and Urdu language training for the military and civilians deploying to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The AFPAK program consists of three phases: a 16-week beginner pre-deployment training program, and the subsequent phases II, III and IV cultural and language immersion programs. These programs prepare students to interact directly with local officials, tribal leaders and members of the community. The objective was to develop the students’ language ability and cultural awareness enabling them to build rapport and trust with the locals, and ultimately leveraging those relationships to achieve peace and stability in the region.

Description of Challenges

Dari, Urdu and Pashto are hard languages for native English speakers to learn with Dari and Urdu ranked at a level 3 (out of 5), and Pashto ranked at a level 4, for difficulty to learn. Additionally, AFPAK included military and civilian volunteers, so it required tailored curriculum to fit each student’s previous language training, personal learning style and professional objectives.

Description of the Solution

DLS restructured our Dari, Urdu and Pashto curriculum by customizing syllabi to target each student’s learning objectives, developing supplemental activities and visual aids, designing weekly proficiency exams to track progress and personalizing instruction. Special cultural immersion events were held, such as Nowruz and Eid, to further cultural understanding. This unique approach allowed us to meet the needs of every AFPAK student, enabling them to build a brighter future for all.


The initial proficiency goal was to take students from an ILR level 0/0 to a 0+/0+ on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) exam. After attending our program, so many students achieved a 1/1 or higher that AFPAK changed its proficiency goal, it is now a 1/1.

Since 2009, more than 1,000 students have completed the program, with 92.5 percent achieving or exceeding the proficiency goal. Furthermore, 65 students have achieved a 2/2, and 3 students have achieved a 2+/2+ after only 16 weeks. These scores are unprecedented.


Alma Sadikaj

Registrar and Client Relations Manager

Alma Sadikaj has several years of combined experience in international development, political affairs, program management, training and coaching, human resources and recruitment, logistics and operations, education, administration, marketing, sales, and client relations. Prior to joining us, Alma worked in both the non-profit and private sectors. Her passion is travel. During those journeys, she acquires insights about how cultures and languages are linked.