Directed Independent Language Study (DILS) is designed to give motivated students the opportunity to study languages not currently offered through traditional classroom instruction at the University of Miami. The goal of the program is to assist students to gain linguistic and cultural competence primarily through active conversation in the language of their choice and to promote their ability to adapt and respond to new linguistic and cultural environments. Flexibility is one of the key components of the program as it responds to the students' language needs.

An individual language program – composed of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of five students -- is based on a carefully structured relationship between the student, a native speaker of the target language (Language Partner or LP), appropriate study materials, and an outside evaluator. Students in the program are expected to adhere to a daily schedule of work using the designated instructional materials; they are scheduled to meet in practice sessions with their Language Partners for one hour twice a week. They are tested at least once a semester by an outside evaluator who is a qualified language pedagogue at another institution of higher learning where they teach the target language.

The Student. There is no 'teacher' in the program, as that term is understood in other instructional contexts. Students are the principal actors in a language program and are responsible for their language learning. It is central to the success of the program that students understand what is expected of them in an independent learning environment (for further information please see 'Guidelines for Students').

Students wishing to pursue language study in DILS must submit an application stating their goals and objectives. (Please see "Eligibility and Application Procedure"). The DILS Program Director identifies appropriate curricular materials, Language Partners and qualified evaluators for students whose applications are considered. Only those applications will receive final approval for which adequate materials, Language Partners, and testing can be arranged. Since establishing the availability of these resources takes time, DILS applications must be submitted in the semester preceding the one for which study is proposed.

Students in DILS are strongly encouraged to combine and further develop their on-campus language study with study abroad, field work, internships or work abroad.

DILS is open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Miami. Language study in DILS does not earn credit; however, a notation is recorded on the students' transcripts of their language study in DILS.

Only students in good academic standing should apply to the DILS program.

Interested students should contact the DILS Director at DILS@miami.edu.


Scope and breadth of DILS

Participants in DILS have included both undergraduate and graduate students from multiple schools & colleges at the University of Miami.  Requests for languages have been steadily increasing from semester to semester since the program’s inception in spring 2009. DILS is offering a broad range of languages from most geographic areas of the globe, from indigenous Central American languages to European, Asian and African languages. Several of the languages studied in DILS are classified by the government as critical to national security (examples include Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Thai, Turkish).


Why DILS

DILS students realize that language capability and cultural understanding are necessary to communicate effectively with people around the world and that each language is a unique key to a community's worldview and culture playing a central role in transmitting and exchanging knowledge. They understand that learning languages in DILS gives them the skills and the opportunity to develop projects that can combine the acquisition of language and culture with international and interdisciplinary study. Language study in DILS not only complements students’ academic study especially as it relates to international topics, but is also fundamental to their own personal development and prepares them to function effectively in a global context.