Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Training Gets Mentioned In AP

This is one of very few training classes I am allowed to talk about. The students were unscreened for language learning ability and ages ranged from 18 to 43. They took the new Iraqi DLPT 5 and scored 0+ , all in less than 100 hours of class time and in less than 30 days. I believe their skills were above 0+ (a solid 1) because the Iraqi DLPT 5 focused so much on geopolitical material rather than the practical usage of the language (which is what I was asked to train them for). Nevertheless, it was a success as it takes the military usually up to 400 hours to achieve these results. The article contains a little error about my biography. I learned the Iraqi dialect growing up in Kuwait and visiting Iraq frequently but I never lived in Iraq.

Here is a part of the full article:

Cultural, language skills part of Navy's new onshore role

By MELISSA NELSON, The Associated Press
Nov 24,:19 AM

- Boats and weapons are Lt. Joseph Michaels' priorities in getting his 53-man squadron ready to patrol Iraq's rivers. But a close second is something the Navy sailor hadn't given much thought to before now - Iraqi language and culture.

Michaels and the men of Riverine Group 1 will head to Iraq in January from their training base in Little Creek, Va. While preparing to deploy, they are among the first sailors learning about the day-to-day lives of Iraqis - everything from their more-limited sense of personal space to traditional Arabic greetings.

Their Jordanian-American instructor, who spent years in Iraq, taught squadron leaders by speaking to them only in Arabic. He also had them greet one another every morning according to the customs of a traditional Iraqi family.

"There is a lot more holding hands and touching cheeks. It's more touchy-feely over there and it was really uncomfortable the first few days," said Michaels, who will oversee a detachment of four river boats patrolling the country's dangerous inland waterways.

"He taught us about as much language as you could learn in 30 days. I thought my head would explode," he said.

And Michaels said he was surprised to learn that even making extended eye contact with an Iraqi woman could cause the woman to be punished.

"The Iraqi men look down on a woman even if she is just looked at by an American man," he said.

The Navy developed the training as part of its expanding onshore role in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its new Expeditionary Combat Command at Little Creek opened this year. The command oversees about 40,000 sailors who work inland, including the Riverine squadron, Navy construction crews known as Seabees and explosive ordnance technicians. There are about 4,300 sailors currently in Iraq and 1,300 in Afghanistan.