Magazine article National Defense

Free Web-Based Foreign Language Courses Available to Soldiers

Magazine article National Defense

Free Web-Based Foreign Language Courses Available to Soldiers

Article excerpt

The Army signed a $4.2 million contract with Fairfield Language Technologies to offer computer-based Rosetta Stone language courses free of charge to Army Knowledge Online users.

"We looked at those areas and put together a program to improve language proficiency across the force. It was based on an operational need," said Brig. Gen. James M. Milano, the Army's director of training under G3.

Rosetta Stone offers full-immersion reading, writing, speaking and listening instruction in 26 languages, including strategic ones such as Arabic, Mandarin and Korean, said Milano.

The Air Force and other entities within the Defense Department have had positive experiences with Rosetta Stone, said Milano. The program integrated quickly with Army e-Learning, a program accessed through AKO that offers more than 2,200 commercial web-based courses ranging from information technology and business to leadership and personal development.

"Army e-Learning is our established methodology to provide software to the force," said Milano. "It provides a trusted interface, utilizes AKO to validate users. And it provides embedded training management capabilities, so the instructor can check on training."

This year, 196,000 users have completed courses through the program, according to Stan Davis, project officer for Army e-Learning. The program has licensed Rosetta Stone for 1.4 million people, he said.

The Rosetta Stone courses were scheduled to become available on Nov. 7 via Army e-Learning.

"Units preparing to deploy are anxious to use this tool as pre-deployment training," said Milano. It will give commanders the ability to polish a diamond that's getting ready to deploy by helping war-fighters establish basic proficiency in a language, he said.

"Once you know where you're going, for example, to Iraq, then the commander should have you go out, log onto AKO, and learn Farsi," said Col. Sharon Holmes, program manager of the Army's distributed learning system, which is responsible for building and deploying training systems such as Army e-Learning.

After units have deployed, Milano said, soldiers could use Rosetta Stone as a sustainment tool.

"We have online capabilities in theater--in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait," he said. …

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