In 2002, before going to work at a university in Gangwondo, I interviewed for a job with a Korean military intelligence school just outside of Seoul. The university position had more vacation time and gangwon was more inviting but I was able to look around the school a little and see the texts they used. They were, I think, old US military ESL books- perhaps made to teach allied troops, I don’t know. They were relatively old, even for 2002, and I would have been expected to use more modern supplements.
At BoingBoing, there is a post about the military’s more modern language acquisition programs.
We may ask why the US sends troops abroad, but the fact is that we do send large numbers into a region about which they have little knowledge and almost no cultural connection. We then ask them to interact safely and efficiently with military and civilian natives. These interactions require varying levels of linguistic, cultural, and interpersonal background. As a foreign language educator, I am fascinated by the evolution of the training materials given to US soldiers and how cultural visual knowledge plays and increasingly important role.
I will be looking for more from guest blogger Dr. Michael Shaughnessy on language learning.