North Georgia College and State University is the place to be in Georgia if you want to become fluent in Chinese or Arabic. You can also learn Korean and Russian. Susanna Capelouto reports, the language training there is made possible in part by the Department of Defense
Brock Bjornson is a cadet at North Georgia’s Senior Military Schoool. He is moves his finger from right to left as he deciphers the sounds of the letters he’s been learning for 2 months now.
"There’s 3 vowels in Arabic, but most vowels come from these diacritic marks which change everything. Every letter sounds different according to what diacritic is on it. Overall it’s very difficult language, but you do it schway schway, a little bit at time."
Brock jornson is actually spending a lot of time learning Arabic about 8 hours a day if you count the tutoring and cultural sessions. He is one of 14 students now learning this intensive program. Next to him in class is his buddy Max Buchanan- McGrath.
“The only classes that we have are Arabic and Military Science.”
In one year these students will go through 4 years of college Arabic. They’re already entering the intermediate level says their teacher Abdislam Elfarri.
"Most of my students are doing very good and if they keep doing the same thing in another year they will be very good in Arabic. The object is not only to read and to write, but you we go further than that. You can listen to the news and understand speeches and read like references and everything"
North Georgia commissions about 75 officers a year and the U.S. Army is looking for more soldiers fluent in languages that are considered Strategic. North Georgia already had an intensive Chinese program. That’s one reason the school this year got a 1.2 million dollar contract from the Department of Defense to beef up it’s language programs for all students. The schools Dean of Arts and Letters says Chris Jespersen says the classes are popular.
"We've got over 100 students enrolled in all levels of Chinese, we have got 46 in Arabic, we have a full class of Korean and then the other one is Russian"
Such classes would have been of Value to
Cornell Michael Pyott. He’s had 3 combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and now runs the Military college.
"It would have been an enormous benefit to have some language training. so Iwould have been more comfortable as I got over there. But becasuae of the timing I had an interpreter and i had to learn to work with an interpreter."
A deployment to the middle east is a strong motivator to learn a language and it’s culture. Christopher Baxer is 21 and an marine reserve. He’s paying his own way through the year long Arabic program.
Did a tour in Iraq and after that I kind of realize that I wanted to branch out and get more known in the culture and the history of the region and try to understand it better… Hopefully get a job.
He’d like to go into diplomacy. For Cadet Brock Bjornsen, the motivation to learn Arabic is more immediate he will deploy to Kuwait next Summer. . .
"This is something that will directly effect our lives".
He's not too worried. He’s more excited about trying out all the Arabic he’s been working so hard to learn. For GPB news, I’m Susanna Capelouto.