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Tactical Iraqi - how learning a foreign language can be fun on a computer

Speaker  W. Lewis Johnson

Affiliation  University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute

Host  John Nordlinger

Duration  01:30:11

Date recorded  10 February 2006

Can learning a foreign language on a computer be fun!? You bet!

Dr. Johnson will be presenting on his innovative language tool Tactical Iraqi. It is game based on the Unreal engine and a language lab with state of the art AI, modeling and voice recognition. According to the Economist, when the US reentered Iraq only a few soldiers spoke Arabic. This tool has been shown to improve US military outreach efforts and hopefully will be provided to civilians as well.

Tactical Iraqi is a computer-based, self-paced, learning program that in about 80 hours teaches English-speaking people totally unfamiliar with Iraqi Arabic how to speak enough to accomplish tasks and missions in Arabic. Tactical Iraqi quickly teaches how to communicate effectively with Iraqis in daily situations by providing sufficient knowledge and confidence in both spoken Iraqi Arabic and cultural nuances like gestures that are vital aspects of building trust in communication. It minimizes learners' anxiety, embarrassment and confusion by letting them learn and practice at the computer at their own pace. Its game-like design keeps learners interested and motivated even after hours of intensive practice.

Tactical Iraqi consists of a combination of advanced technologies – including artificial intelligence, interactive-animation simulations based on computer games, and speech recognition – and advanced task-based educational methodologies. Tactical Iraqi provides a practical alternative for people who do not take resident courses, or who find conventional classroom language instruction to be boring and ineffective. These instructor-led and self-paced methods are usually reserved for active duty personnel with a high aptitude for language because they require substantial commitments of time. Tactical Iraqi is the second language in the Tactical Language and Culture Training Systems series produced by Tactical Language Training LLC in collaboration with the University of Southern California. The first language, Tactical Levantine, is currently under evaluation at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Tactical Iraqi is currently in use at Camp Pendleton, at the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, and at other military installations in the United States and in Iraq. Other languages, including Tactical Pashto, are currently under development.

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