Wednesday, January 18, 2006

National Security language Initiative

I still haven't had time to look at the text of the initiative, but for those of you who have the time to look here is this link and this link to the fact sheet.
I also found a good discussion of the initiative on this link. The writer has a unique idea but I am not sure he is familiar with the needs of the military and other agencies as far as languages are concerned. The military language student is a unique individual with extremely unique needs. Following a strict academic and scholastic approach to language teaching and learning with military and security students DOES NOT work. Following the strict academic and scholastic approach is slowing down the production of capable military intelligence students. I have proven that point several times. Most recently I did a 53 weeks project for the US Navy where we managed to get the students to graduate in 46 weeks (down from 72 currently at other institutions). I hae developed my methods now to where it can be done in 36 weeks. I also managed to raise the scores of a refresher class by one full point into the 2+ and 3 territory in 15 days. I will not go into the technical details of that but it is sufficient for me to say that things like that are doable by NOT following the academic approach.
The language trainer that is needed for projects like that is a unique breed and I doubt that they are bred in the Middle East either. For language instructors to produce results they must be familiar with a wide range of fields and skills including psychology, motivation, communications, computer science, curriculum planning and development, knowledge of the Internet and technologies that can be used in the class room and above all fluent, level 5, knowledge (and cultural awarenes) of the English language and English-speaking people so that they can communicate freely with their students. My advice is to spend some of that money the President is authorizing on developing such teachers and teacher-training networks. The worst thing that can happen is for the money to end up in the hands of teachers' unions who still cannot produce kids who can read English from our public schools.