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Language Training: What Would It Cost To Do It Right?
Old 04-09-2014, 07:23   #1
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Language Training: What Would It Cost To Do It Right?

Interesting article
http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...to-do-it-right
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:37   #2
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Our language programs have always been a bit "discombobulated"...

We have to hold to DLI standards in much less training time. They don't change the rating tests to compensate for our abbreviated time we give in our language school.

Also, unless they've changed it, it's not to military oriented.

I think if it were not up to the OPTEMPO, the GP language facilities could realy tailor theire language needs there.

But that would require losing an ODA('s) for how long to do it....

I don't know if we'll ever get it "right"...
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:53   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrino View Post
a budget climate that thinks there are shortcuts that will magically create 3/3s from 0/0s in <6 weeks.
^ Indeed. Language acquisition takes time, even in immersion environments; you can't just write a check that's twice as big and get it done twice as fast. Most leaders are not used to hearing that.
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Old 04-10-2014, 18:28   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrino View Post
Not sure where he got his numbers, his force structure is wrong (might not be his fault - the truth is a fast moving target), and I disagree (in degree, not necessarily in detail) with most of his conclusions. We fight this battle on a daily basis at work. SF language training is a PITA mix of unrealistic expectations, poorly defined requirements (what languages are really required - strategic/operational value vs. the current tactical - here today, learn a new one tomorrow - focus), ZERO buy-in on the part of the Commanders who cannot afford to lose Soldiers for the requisite training time NTM the Soldiers ordered to learn languages that they see no value in, and a budget climate that thinks there are shortcuts that will magically create 3/3s from 0/0s in <6 weeks. All that without addressing the built-in failure points in the current LREC contracting process. If somebody with a long-tab and some on-the-ground SF experience with language requirements wants to write a "scholarly" article that addresses these issues vs. budget (which isn't the critical failure point) that would actually be helpful. Language is essential. As the Regiment continues to evolve (no, I haven't consumed a full dose of the flavor-of-the-day Kool-Aid), advanced language capabilities will become even more important. It's the only thing that differentiates SF from everybody else that wants a piece of (most of) our pie. Those who have the ability and interest (both are required) could see unprecedented opportunity; after all - the world is a lot less safe than it has been and SF is the force-of-choice to keep all the pots on the back burners from boiling over while the NCA dithers about how to deal with the front-and-center crises. Course this is MOO - YMMV.
Do you think this idea is lipstick on the pig that was the 18L idea? I thought it was interesting the author advocated an alternative would be to attach CA or MISO to an ODA. Every 35P is now required to be 2/2 in their control language and we're indigenous to each SF BN!
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Last edited by lindy; 04-10-2014 at 18:33. Reason: Spelling
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Old 04-10-2014, 23:16   #5
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I founds the SOFTS Language program (real time video tutorials) really good, I may have just got lucky with the teacher though?

I enjoyed the part training each day, found I learned more productively as I wasn't drinking from the fire hydrant.

I imagine this would be more practical on an ODA then 12 months at DLI. However , I was learning basic, it may not work as well at intermediate / advance.

S
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:58   #6
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(P) How about going back and looking at when we stood up Det-A and what we did with those individuals, we sent them to DLI.

Whether the Command says they have a command language program and it is push it, probably varies from group to group, but if the Command is not down talking to the teams, pushing it and emphasizes it as a need for it. Then it will never become a true command language program. A policy letter written on a piece paper does not make it a command program. That's just something that hangs on the wall but most people don't even read, or hung on the Group portal.

Individuals have to have the desire to learn languages. You're SF and your job is to be able to talk to people, instruct people, mentor and lead people. Which these people are typically insurgents, resistance forces or for nationals nationals. I have seen two different Groups, I've seen Group Core languages changed and I was taught French out of the Q course, then due to my Group Core languages changing had to learn Serbo-Croatian, learn a little bit of German. While in 3rd had learned Phasto and a little Dari. I scored well and Serbo-Croatian and Phasto passed both on the DLPT or in the OPI. It's individuals have to have the desire to do it and if they don't they should be SF.
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Old 04-11-2014, 20:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindy View Post
I thought it was interesting the author advocated an alternative would be to attach CA or MISO to an ODA.
I wonder when's the last time the author survey actual language capability of CA and MISO. Take a look at 95th, 85th, and CAPOC and those having functional, beyond 3/3 qualification is rare. I'm 3+/3+ myself and have a 2nd language, etc. Like MtnGoat said, the individuals have to have the desire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnGoat View Post

Individuals have to have the desire to learn languages. You're SF and your job is to be able to talk to people, instruct people, mentor and lead people. Which these people are typically insurgents, resistance forces or for nationals nationals. I have seen two different Groups, I've seen Group Core languages changed and I was taught French out of the Q course, then due to my Group Core languages changing had to learn Serbo-Croatian, learn a little bit of German. While in 3rd had learned Phasto and a little Dari. I scored well and Serbo-Croatian and Phasto passed both on the DLPT or in the OPI. It's individuals have to have the desire to do it and if they don't they should not be SF.
hard to switch from the door-kicking mindset I suppose. Had a buddy came back from the 18F school. He was equally frustrated with the lack of interest to develop "intel skills" vs. door kicking skill.
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Old 04-11-2014, 21:54   #8
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IMHO, the chain of command has myopia when it comes to language qualifications. They talk a good game, but the dedication to gaining and maintaining the skill are not there.

First, our languages regularly change in most Groups. How many times do you want to spend the resources to train a guy to a 2/2 or a 3/3, and have to retrain him in another language, which he may not get at all?

Second, we are unwilling to take the time and resources to properly train the SF soldier in the pipeline. If you want a 3/3, accept that a large majority of your students, who happen to be otherwise great at their SF jobs, are never going to get there. You could get 100 3/3s in an SFG, if they spent most of their time doing language training, or you took a chance and brought in native speakers who might otherwise be terrible SF soldiers. If you want a 3/3 on the team, and you cannot find a native, be prepared to send the guy to DLI for as long as three years.

Time in the language class is time that your other skills are atrophying. You might need to be able to run that gun or start that IV more than you need language skills, at some point.

Next, we do not want to accept the regular absence from the unit to conduct the refresher training required to maintain the language skill.

Finally, the other SOF services have nowhere near the language requirements SF has, the number of advanced linguists, or the total number of troops who speak the language well enough to get by on the street and teach a class. No wonder SF deploys twice as much to other countries as most other SOF, who will wind up with a translator requirement to do anything, and no one on the team able to get a hotel room or order dinner in a restaurant.

If SOCOM wants to make this a priority, it is going to cost a damn sight more than this estimate, in both cash and time, and there are going to have to be a lot of sacrifices and people standing up to say "No" because the guys need their language training BEFORE deploying.

Just my .02, YMMV.

TR
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Old 04-12-2014, 06:16   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reaper View Post
IMHO, the chain of command has myopia when it comes to language qualifications. They talk a good game, but the dedication to gaining and maintaining the skill are not there.

First, our languages regularly change in most Groups. How many times do you want to spend the resources to train a guy to a 2/2 or a 3/3, and have to retrain him in another language, which he may not get at all?

Second, we are unwilling to take the time and resources to properly train the SF soldier in the pipeline. If you want a 3/3, accept that a large majority of your students, who happen to be otherwise great at their SF jobs, are never going to get there. You could get 100 3/3s in an SFG, if they spent most of their time doing language training, or you took a chance and brought in native speakers who might otherwise be terrible SF soldiers. If you want a 3/3 on the team, and you cannot find a native, be prepared to send the guy to DLI for as long as three years.

Time in the language class is time that your other skills are atrophying. You might need to be able to run that gun or start that IV more than you need language skills, at some point.

Next, we do not want to accept the regular absence from the unit to conduct the refresher training required to maintain the language skill.

Finally, the other SOF services have nowhere near the language requirements SF has, the number of advanced linguists, or the total number of troops who speak the language well enough to get by on the street and teach a class. No wonder SF deploys twice as much to other countries as most other SOF, who will wind up with a translator requirement to do anything, and no one on the team able to get a hotel room or order dinner in a restaurant.

If SOCOM wants to make this a priority, it is going to cost a damn sight more than this estimate, in both cash and time, and there are going to have to be a lot of sacrifices and people standing up to say "No" because the guys need their language training BEFORE deploying.

Just my .02, YMMV.

TR
Would a Lodge Act 2.0 go some way in rectifying a language problem(as well as helping with additional capability)?

I assume the original Lodge Act was successful based only on anecdotes I've read about highly successful foreign born US Army SF often with multiple languages under their belt from Eastern European UW target countries.

I assume the utility/capability of Lodge Act 2.0 pers has potential to be a fair bit broader than native born US Army SF soldiers depending on the operational environment and at limited cost.

It's easy to see weaknesses in such an idea, particularly in terms of candidates from certain current/future UW target countries and how they can be properly vetted, but it's been done before(again I assume successfully with good bang for the buck).

As I understand it, the Lodge Act was put in place just before the Korean War, which I understand, bar the odd super-mega program such as B36/B52 and SuperCarriers was a financially constrained time for the guys carrying rifles at the coalface......a bit like today(lull in the conflict storm) maybe?
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:09   #10
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We used to say language was a matter of self-motivation.

1/1 (beginner) - can get fed using the target language.
2/2 (intermediate) - can get fed and drunk using the target language.
3/3 (expert) - can get fed, drunk, and laid using the target language.

And then there were the guys who always found a way to do all three and establish the necessary rapport to accomplish the mission with barely a 1/1 in their native American English.

Richard
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Old 04-15-2014, 16:22   #11
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Don't know if the PC still does it this way, but the Peace Corps Language Program used to be part of their "Pre-Service Training." They would send volunteers to the country they were going to serve in, and move them in with a family. While living with the family, Language and Cross-Cultural Facilitators, would teach them language and culture. The families are compensated, not necessarily with money, but continued participation in the program, or good deal, is dependent on the students the families host passing the language test. This was motivation to speak the native language and "force" the volunteer to learn and not try and improve their own mastery of English. Typically, volunteers would live with the family 2 to 3 months, then test and swear in. This of course was followed up by living and working in the environment for the next 20 +/- months.

The Peace Corps Volunteers at the swearing in I attended in Tanzania had some impressive language skills, and we're talking Swahili, not French.

Of course unless we are going to go back towards a more "real" regional alignment and active engagement plan in each AOR for each Group, investing in the start up capability is a waste of time and money.
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Old 04-16-2014, 22:13   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flagg View Post
Would a Lodge Act 2.0 go some way in rectifying a language problem(as well as helping with additional capability)?

I assume the original Lodge Act was successful based only on anecdotes I've read about highly successful foreign born US Army SF often with multiple languages under their belt from Eastern European UW target countries.

I assume the utility/capability of Lodge Act 2.0 pers has potential to be a fair bit broader than native born US Army SF soldiers depending on the operational environment and at limited cost.

It's easy to see weaknesses in such an idea, particularly in terms of candidates from certain current/future UW target countries and how they can be properly vetted, but it's been done before(again I assume successfully with good bang for the buck).

As I understand it, the Lodge Act was put in place just before the Korean War, which I understand, bar the odd super-mega program such as B36/B52 and SuperCarriers was a financially constrained time for the guys carrying rifles at the coalface......a bit like today(lull in the conflict storm) maybe?
There is a "Lodge Act 2.0" already. It's called the MAVNI program. IIRC, 1SFG(A) benefit much from the additional capability and one of the volunteer, a Nepalese, even went on and became 18D. I told him he got gurkha blood in him. The other groups did not get much out of it IMHOO
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Old Yesterday, 19:56   #13
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Originally Posted by The Reaper View Post
IMHO, the chain of command has myopia when it comes to language qualifications. They talk a good game, but the dedication to gaining and maintaining the skill are not there.

First, our languages regularly change in most Groups. How many times do you want to spend the resources to train a guy to a 2/2 or a 3/3, and have to retrain him in another language, which he may not get at all?

Second, we are unwilling to take the time and resources to properly train the SF soldier in the pipeline. If you want a 3/3, accept that a large majority of your students, who happen to be otherwise great at their SF jobs, are never going to get there. You could get 100 3/3s in an SFG, if they spent most of their time doing language training, or you took a chance and brought in native speakers who might otherwise be terrible SF soldiers. If you want a 3/3 on the team, and you cannot find a native, be prepared to send the guy to DLI for as long as three years.

Time in the language class is time that your other skills are atrophying. You might need to be able to run that gun or start that IV more than you need language skills, at some point.

Next, we do not want to accept the regular absence from the unit to conduct the refresher training required to maintain the language skill.

Finally, the other SOF services have nowhere near the language requirements SF has, the number of advanced linguists, or the total number of troops who speak the language well enough to get by on the street and teach a class. No wonder SF deploys twice as much to other countries as most other SOF, who will wind up with a translator requirement to do anything, and no one on the team able to get a hotel room or order dinner in a restaurant.

If SOCOM wants to make this a priority, it is going to cost a damn sight more than this estimate, in both cash and time, and there are going to have to be a lot of sacrifices and people standing up to say "No" because the guys need their language training BEFORE deploying.

Just my .02, YMMV.

TR
You are a man of experience.

My first language was Turkish had a 1/1 for awhile then.....

Group decided we all needed to speak Arabic and handed us disks and books to deploy with then.....Iraq ended

Next Group decided my new language would be German since Turkish was no longer critical to the Group.......

Then we started going to Africa in greater numbers and Group decided the Bn needed to know French

Funny I can still score a 1/1 in Turkish and what I learned in 6 mos at the school house I still mostly know. I wonder what it could have been speaking at if I had been able to stay with my original language without having to learn another. I have not gotten better than a 1+/1+ any any particular language.

The issue is we should have been treating our language just like P.T. or shooting if it was that important. A daily training ritual as part of the normal day instead we get a 2-4 week cram session annually and then get threatened that if we do not have a 1/1 minimum we will no longer be competitive for promotion. Reenlistment bonuses may also be affected to name the few of the pressures to maintain or gain proficiency in a language that is changing often.
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Old Yesterday, 23:58   #14
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Originally Posted by frostfire View Post
There is a "Lodge Act 2.0" already. It's called the MAVNI program. IIRC, 1SFG(A) benefit much from the additional capability and one of the volunteer, a Nepalese, even went on and became 18D. I told him he got gurkha blood in him. The other groups did not get much out of it IMHOO
Cheers!

I did not know that.

Looks like 700+ so far scooped up and still active with a limit on 1500 per year....according to Google.

VERY cool....I can seen this as a real competitive advantage as long as it works as advertised.
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Old Today, 07:59   #15
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Quote:
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----as long as it works as advertised.
It doesn't. Success rates (measured in "Soldier" metrics) are very low. It's a cultural issue - some cultures make phenomenal Soldiers (Nepal today; Eastern Europe during Lodge Act period), others are the antithesis of a Soldier. Unfortunately the cultures we are recruiting from to meet our current LREC requirements fall in the latter category. Nuff said.
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