Online language training ups the ante on promotion points

| October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments
New software applications for mobile devices, like the iPad pictured above, are helping students at the DLI in Monterey, Calif. In addition, Soldiers worldwide can now earn promotion points by taking the online Headstart2 language learning program developed by DLI. (Courtesy Photo)

New software applications for mobile devices, like the iPad pictured above, are helping students at the DLI in Monterey, Calif. In addition, Soldiers worldwide can now earn promotion points by taking the online Headstart2 language learning program developed by DLI. (Courtesy Photo)

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Soldiers can now earn up to 16 promotion points for completing language instruction with the Headstart2 language training program.

Headstart2 software uses digitally animated characters involved in military scenarios to teach reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in any of 16 target languages.

Soldiers must register for an Army Training Requirements and Resources System account, or ATTRS, to earn points in any of those target languages.

“It gives a Soldier, a Marine, an Airman, a Sailor or a civilian — who doesn’t have background in the language — a fairly decent understanding of the culture, a basic understanding of the sound and script, and what we would describe as survival-level language,” said Col. Danial Pick, commandant, Defense Language Institute, or DLI.

Pick said the program teaches a “military-focused vocabulary,” designed with requirements from both the Army and the Marine Corps, to help Soldiers and Marines complete the types of missions they will be engaged in during deployments.

He said, specifically, focus is on conducting patrols, cordon and search, medical treatment, and “interrogatives and vocabulary that allow squads of Soldiers and Marines to ask critical survival-type questions in local populations, as well as (to) have an understanding of culture.”

Being able to engage effectively with local populations, Pick said, enables Soldiers and Marines to “identify and isolate enemy elements in a population and more effectively deliver aid and development to friendly forces.”

The language program takes between 80 and 100 hours of self-directed study. The language programs can be downloaded or accessed online through the DLI website or through service-specific portals, like Army Knowledge Online. Soldiers without access to a high-speed network can also order the disks directly from DLI.

The 16 languages include Iraqi Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Urdu, Persian Farsi, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese European, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Uzbek, Kurmanji, Swahili and Portuguese Brazilian.

Soldiers who complete the Headstart2 program in these languages can get up to 16 promotion points.

“When a Soldier completes Headstart2, he or she gets credit in ATRRS, which not only tells the unit commander, at a glance, who has or has not completed pre-deployment language and culture training, but it also gives that young Soldier credit in terms of promotion points,” Pick said.

Between June 2010 and June 2011, some 33,000 individuals used the Dari language program to train for deployment to Afghanistan.

Category: Army News Service, News, Training

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