Foreign language and culture training

Salt USMC

Marine
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Thank you for taking the time for such a detailed response - it certainly gives me a better idea of what you faced in the field. If you don't mind me asking, what motivated you to spend your own money and time on a private language course? Not many seem to have taken that kind of initiative, but it seems to have been worthwhile. Just guessing, but it seems like you have some talent and interest for languages.
I originally started learning when I was interested in screening for MARSOC a while prior to that. I started out with the Rosetta Stone series, which (as @pardus mentioned) we used to get for free. It's usefulness was limited, to put it mildly. The best thing it did was to get me to "listen" to farsi and how words are formed and sentences constructed. Sort of. I don't think I encountered a sentence longer than about 5 words in the course, but at the very least it helped me identify where the verb was usually placed, how the subject was indicated, and a few other things. Once I found out about the afghan trainer deployment, I jumped headlong into language training.

And yes, I do have a knack for languages; technically I know 5 (English, German, Japanese, Farsi and Dari), but I only speak and read English and the last two with anything resembling comprehension. I can still read Japanese, for some reason...

Also, do you know of anyone that tried to learn Pashto? Dari is difficult enough, but Pashto has much more complicated grammar.
I know exactly one guy that tried....he didn't last very long. Pashto is stupidly hard and it's a very niche language. So taking the time to learn it is really a fool's errand.
 

xf4wso

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I originally started learning when I was interested in screening for MARSOC a while prior to that. I started out with the Rosetta Stone series, which (as @pardus mentioned) we used to get for free. It's usefulness was limited, to put it mildly. The best thing it did was to get me to "listen" to farsi and how words are formed and sentences constructed. Sort of. I don't think I encountered a sentence longer than about 5 words in the course, but at the very least it helped me identify where the verb was usually placed, how the subject was indicated, and a few other things. Once I found out about the afghan trainer deployment, I jumped headlong into language training.

And yes, I do have a knack for languages; technically I know 5 (English, German, Japanese, Farsi and Dari), but I only speak and read English and the last two with anything resembling comprehension. I can still read Japanese, for some reason...



I know exactly one guy that tried....he didn't last very long. Pashto is stupidly hard and it's a very niche language. So taking the time to learn it is really a fool's errand.
Thanks again for the response; I've never used Rosetta Stone, but I have found the Pimsleur courses good for listening practice and daily speech. The USO site has a link to free downloads of Phases I and II of both Dari and Pashto. If you have absolutely no background in the language, they could be difficult since there are practically no explanations of the grammar. In your case, though, they might prove useful if you plan on continuing in Dari. Have you ever considered a go at Arabic?

In a slightly earlier post Pardus gave cost as the reason for the limited availability of language training (which makes perfect bureaucratic sense;-)), and your previous response got me thinking. Didn't ability in Dari save Uncle Sam's money when you were able to tell that your interpreter didn't understand Dari very well? And, didn't being able to communicate with the Afghans and persuade them to take the other trainers more seriously make the training program more cost effective? Finally, and I may be stretching here, is it possible that being able to establish a greater rapport with your Afghan colleagues, in Dari, made a green on blue incident a little bit less likely? How do you put a price on that?

Anyway, thanks again for your posting and all the best in your future endeavors!
 

Etype

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Speaking MSA sounds much like speaking Shakespearean English. As for dialects, Egyptian is great - thanks to Egyptian films and TV series it is widely understood. Good luck with the Arabic studies (من تركيا)!
MSA is like Oxford English- Classical Arabic would probably be more like Shakespearean English. Egyptian is more like American English, most people who speak whatever dialect of Arabic are still familiar with it and can understand it. People from every English speaking country are exposed to American movies and the American way of talking (we also pronounce all of our letters properly), most Arabic speakers are exposed to Egyptian media the same way (and they pronounce MOST of their letters properly).
 

Crusader74

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MSA is like Oxford English- Classical Arabic would probably be more like Shakespearean English. Egyptian is more like American English, most people who speak whatever dialect of Arabic are still familiar with it and can understand it. People from every English speaking country are exposed to American movies and the American way of talking (we also pronounce all of our letters properly), most Arabic speakers are exposed to Egyptian media the same way (and they pronounce MOST of their letters properly).

I've since axed the MSA and am focusing on Egyptian.. I haven't done anything of value in a while due my college semester starting again.. (Political economy):wall:

For anyone interested, here are two word doc files & a work book .. Enjoy!
 

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Ladder Guy

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Apr 5, 2013
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Fayetteville
Thanks for the DOC's above. I am going through the whole MSA vs Egyptian Arabic now.
Going to be fun to take the OPI in one and speak in another.
Pashto was difficult enough. Oh well
 

Etype

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I've since axed the MSA and am focusing on Egyptian...
I am going through the whole MSA vs Egyptian Arabic now.
I wouldn't get to wrapped up in the MSA vs. dialect...
Every Arabic speaker understands MSA. MSA is the equivalent of the English you learned (hopefully) in school- you know what is right, but you choose to speak colloquially.

I try my best to speak MSA because I sometimes go to 3 or 4 different Arabic speaking countries in a year, so it does me no good to pick up dialects- but everyone still knows I learned from Egyptians and that I've spent time in Iraq.

Look at it this way- a shrimper from Louisiana understands an English professor when he talks- but the English professor may not understand him.
 

Crusader74

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I wouldn't get to wrapped up in the MSA vs. dialect...
Every Arabic speaker understands MSA. MSA is the equivalent of the English you learned (hopefully) in school- you know what is right, but you choose to speak colloquially.

I try my best to speak MSA because I sometimes go to 3 or 4 different Arabic speaking countries in a year, so it does me no good to pick up dialects- but everyone still knows I learned from Egyptians and that I've spent time in Iraq.

Look at it this way- a shrimper from Louisiana understands an English professor when he talks- but the English professor may not understand him.

Thanks for the tip. Most of my resources are مصري but I'll try to stay away from slang.
 
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