The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2014

Initiative promotes language proficiency

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For Soldiers interested in brushing up on a second language or learning a new language, the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Language, Regional Expertise and Culture initiative has several efforts to promote language proficiency.

Jenny Meier, an instruction system specialist with the Directorate of Training and Doctrine and the lead for the LREC team, said it is important for any Soldier with a language proficiency to maintain that proficiency while at Fort Benning.

“Language proficiency is a fleeting ability,” Meier said. “If it’s not maintained through intermittent review and refreshment, it will die. It would be very unfortunate for someone to have reached a certain level and then go back down while they’re here at Fort Benning. Because we are an institutional environment, we want to support the whole Soldier, so in addition to teaching combatives and leadership, we think that maintaining that language proficiency is just as important.”

While the MCoE does not have an official language program to teach new languages and provide classroom instruction, the LREC initiative does offer language tables and both offline and online resources to encourage language development.

Four language tables are held monthly in the McGinnis-Wickam Hall food court, with German, French, Spanish and Chinese speech tables offered.

“We’re supporting the Soldiers in their solo efforts to acquire languages and sustain any language ability that they may have acquired during their career,” Meier said. “We’re offering language tables with the hope that native speakers and language learners alike will join us and be able to help one another.”

The LREC team has also launched a Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/MCOELREC. The page will be updated weekly and provide the force with cultural-related news and events happening on post and in the community.

The page also offers links to learning resources for Russian, Arabic, Pashto, Korean, French, German, Chinese and Dari, something Meier said can help to enhance a Soldier’s career.

“We’re trying to gather as many resources as possible, based on language and regional expertise,” Meier said. “If a Soldier wants to align himself with AFRICOM efforts, he may want to learn French. He may want to read books about what’s going on in Africa. So, a bibliography is available and we have starred those resources that are available here at the Donovan Research Library. We also compiled a list of resources for writing and listening practice, as well as speech and typing exercises. It’s sort of a comprehensive package of resources that you would need to become fully proficient.”

The LREC team is also preparing to roll out an LREC survey to help identify and place Soldiers with language and regional expertise efforts.

The survey will be implemented with the Maneuver Captains Career Course, as well as the 199th and 198th Infantry Brigades.

“We really need anybody coming in to take that survey so we can assess their ability and their language level,” Meier said. “After that, we can place them and give them information. They’ll be added to our contact list and they’ll receive invites to our tables.”

Meier said the LREC team is searching for people willing to lead language tables, which can also include a newly established table if there is an available table leader and enough interest.

For more information on the LREC initiative, language tables, learning resources or to volunteer to lead a table, contact Meier at 545-1100 or jenny.l.meier.civ@mail.mil.

LREC language tables German Where: Burger King Food Court, McGinnis-Wickam Hall When: Noon-1 p.m., first Wednesday of each month Contact: Jenny Meier, 545-1100 French Where: Benning Club When: Noon-1 p.m., second Thursday of each month Contact: Caroline Keyser, 545-2571 Spanish Where: Burger King Food Court, McGinnis-Wickam Hall When: Noon-1 p.m., third Wednesday of each month Contact: Athan Datu, 545-1582 Chinese Where: Burger King Food Court, McGinnis-Wickam Hall When: Noon-1 p.m., fourth Wednesday of each month Contact: Jenny Meier, 545-1100

French Q&As Lieutenant-colonel Frederic Aubanel, French liaison officer to the MCoE will be presenting three question and answer sessions in French on the following dates from noon to 1 p.m.: March 20: France in Africa April 10: French Army organization May 15: French Army in Guyana Additional resources on AFRICOM will be available as well. Each event will take place in the VTC room of the Donovan Research Library. Refreshments will be served, although you are welcome to bring your lunch.

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