Cross-cultural decision making skills have been recognized to be increasingly vital to military and defense operations (Johnson &Friedland, 2009). The day-to-day operations of international military forces, in their interaction with different cultures as they work overseas, require intercultural competence to make decisions that are both appropriate and culturally sensitive (Johnson & Friedland, 2009). Cross cultural competency (3C) is accomplished through three unique steps: Cultural self-awareness, suspension of judgments and biases, and the development of skills that fit within domains of a new culture (Selmeski, 2009). Already, educational measures are being implemented by military colleges to promote 3C in military personnel for the sake of global operations (Selmeski, 2009; Abbe, Gulick & Herman, 2007). Knowledge of a foreign language is already considered a critical means of accomplishing the third step of developing skills fitting within the domains of a new culture (Abbe, Gulick & Herman, 2007).
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) is considered the principle institution for foreign language instruction in the Department of Defense (DOD). DLIFLC is the Defense Department’s primary foreign language center of excellence since 1947 (Valceanu, John 2001). It offers resident courses at the Presidio of Monterey in 23 languages that accommodate approximately 3,500 Soldiers, five days a week, seven hours per day. Courses last between 24 and 61weeks, depending on the difficulty of the language.
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is taught within three Middle East schools and considered by DOD as one of the eight critical languages for US national security. There are 98% of the Instructors who are native speakers. Aside from classroom instruction, the faculty also writes course materials in the Curriculum Development Division, designs the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), and conducts Oral proficiency Test (OPI) at the end of each course (Defense Language Institute 2011). Students must pass a series of examinations that test their listening, speaking, reading and writing proficiency in the languages they are pursuing (Valceanu, John 2001).
To further advance student knowledge and fluency in a particular language, DLIFLC has designed an iso-immersion program at an off- site facility. Students spend from one to three days in an isolated environment, with their instructors, and are not allowed to speak English. This forces them to restructure their thinking and operate completely independently of their native language, creating a more realistic scenario for speaking in Arabic in a defense language context. The program consists of real-world exercises, from bargaining for food and clothing at a market place, to going through customs, or making hotel reservations. DLIFLC also sends a number of students on 30-day in-country immersions to Egypt and Jordan for further authentic, Arabic language training.
DLIFLC also sponsors Language Training Detachments (LTD) at multiple sites throughout the continental United States, where DLIFLC instructors teach language sustainment and enhancement courses; these are short-term courses with an accelerated schedule based on specific military requirements. However, when it comes to the 16 month basic course, one of the challenges is to maintain the students’ focus. They are young with many other interests and activities in which they would rather be doing than studying Arabic (Valceanu, John 2001).
Statement of the Problem
The problem is the scarcity of research on effective yet rapid new instructional strategies for learning Arabic language as a second language for American students. There are more studies investigating the complicated structure of the Arabic language while exploring the challenges of teaching Arabic (Strout, Erin 2006), and the aspects that might influence the learning environment in the classrooms; however there are few studies on how to prevail over those complications.
Researching an efficient Arabic language instructional and assessment methodology for American students, especially military personnel, will result in a qualified soldier linguist in less time than the current Defense Language Institute (DLI) 61 week course. The goal of discovering this method is a continuous effort for professional instructors at DLI and in the field of learning Arabic language in general. This sounds like a purpose or significance.
In general, few studies have introduced new applications of instructional methodology for delivering the Arabic language to American students. Taha-Thomure (2008) stated there remains an unprecedented interest in and awareness regarding the importance of developing and adopting new methodologies in the teaching of Arabic.
In order to fulfill part of the 3C competency principle, it is required that military personnel learn the appropriate skills to interact with natives of a foreign culture in military operations abroad.
Shiley’s (2007) in his study found the followings:
The U. S. military services rely on highly trained linguists to fill critical shortages in the foreign language intelligence fields to ensure sustainment of our Nation’s defense and security capabilities. Given the global issue of terrorism today, it is especially important that we increase our ability to produce military linguists who are highly skilled in listening, speaking, and reading second languages-especially Basic Modern Standard Arabic. (P. 18).
In addition, her study explored and investigated the relationship between personality, when operationalized at the facet level of measurement, and second language learning.
Recent studies, such as Seraj (2010) have investigated varying teaching models to adjust and improve teachers' attitudes towards language instruction in a military setting, and correlations have been measured between teachers' preferences and some demographic variables.
American students historically found to have difficulty with the inanimate plural forms as well as pronominal suffixes and plural constructions (El-Nekishbendy, 1990). On the other hand, Arslanyilmaz( 2007) found that learning tasks in language acquisition promote task completion activities by engaging in authentic, pragmatic, contextual, and functional use of language.
New programs should be implemented to addressed the gaps in the language acquisition research literature that relate to understanding whether, and to what extent, Intensive short-term foreign language immersion programs stimulate the language learning process. Also, to what extent language immersion students begin to recognize growth in their second language development (Savage, 2010). Most important is to discover in what ways students begin to recognize those moments of clarity in their language learning and cultural understanding.
Cloud et al. (2000) argued that the use of only one language textbook or series is insufficient. They recommended that immersion and content-based teachers should consider a textbook as only one of many resources, supplementing it appropriately, in order to provide language instruction that meets the needs of second language learners in content-based classrooms. Thus, According to Lyster (2007), the works required of teachers increases exceptionally as they expand their use of resources. Furthermore, Teachers are required to develop alternative resources and creative ways of counterbalancing language and content throughout the curriculum which is a solution that is proving more and more effective, however the level of creativity expected of teachers, not all teachers can do so.
The question will remain unanswered on how to combine theories into reality that will enable teachers of the Arabic language to promote the oral proficiency skill in a rapid time while overcoming the identified challenges of the language. There remains an unprecedented interest in and awareness regarding the importance of developing, and adopting, new methodologies in the teaching of the Arabic language (Taha-Thomure, 2008).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to evaluate a combination of instructional methodologies/strategies beyond current practices for teaching Arabic language to military personnel attending the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California. The intent of such instruction is that students (military personnel) will improve their pass rates on the various examinations that test their listening, speaking, reading and writing proficiency in Arabic.
This study will seek to narrow the gap between the previously introduced methods and findings of learning the Arabic language as a second language. It hopes to introduce and portray how to implement and put in application a combination of instructional methodologies in order to accelerate and facilitate the learning of the Arabic as second language. Previous studies have only highlighted the instructional and learning difficulties that the majority of American students face while learning Arabic as a second language. These include the concepts of fluency, comprehension and vocabulary retention, which require a different pedagogical approach from English instruction.
The research objective is to identify those methodologies and explore how Arabic could be efficiently and effectively delivered while overcoming the difficulties in order to promote an enhanced level of oral proficiency in a short time in order to prepare competent linguist soldiers whom can communicate on the ground at the prospective culture.
The study hopes to disclose how to avoid the challenges that occur during the process of learning the language especially at the oral communication level or the speaking skill. It will introduce a new approach for Arabic learning resulting in more rapid and accurate language acquisition. The effectiveness of the “oral interaction positive corrective modeling” concept will be measured aligned with the current student oral proficiency performance at the DLI.
An increasing number of American college-level students seek degrees in the Arabic language or Middle Eastern studies. Other students of Arabic and the Middle Eastern culture include those from the United States government and the military. The DLI Curriculum Development Division designs the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), and conducts the required Oral Proficiency Test (OPI) at the completion of each course (Defense Language Institute 2011). Language training with the federal government and U. S. military further includes passing a series of examinations testing students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing proficiency in the language studied (Valceanu, 2001).
Q1: Can the Counseling Oral Interaction Positive Corrective Modeling be implemented to teach rapidly and successfully in order to enhance the competency of Oral proficiency of the Arabic language as a second language?
Q2: Can the incorporation of a process approach to writing , with the Counseling Oral Interaction Positive Corrective Modeling, advances and shorten the learning process of the Oral proficiency skill in teaching Arabic than the current Defense Language Institute (DLI) model?
Q3: What efforts were made to overcome the difficulties that enabled the students to continue using the writing process phase?
Q4: Can an OPI based curriculum overcome the difficulties and challenges found in previous research, which has revealed the learning issues American students face while learning Arabic?
Q5: How can an Arabic Language teacher use theories and findings from prior research to ensure Military students improve their Oral proficiency in a shorter period of time?
These questions support the increasing requirement of the U. S. government and military for highly trained linguists to fill critical shortages in foreign language listening, speaking and reading modalities – especially basic modern standard Arabic (Shirley, 2007). Because of this critical need at the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, answers to these questions will provide a timely resource savings during a time of increasing budget constraints. Furthermore, successful resolution of these issues will contribute to the limited literature, currently existing in this field of Arabic language programs, and quality Arabic language instruction.
These questions were chosen for research because of the continual need to provide effective, quality language learning programs for the United States government and the Department of Defense in the timeliest and cost- effective manner. The outcomes of these research questions expect to prove that the 24 week course not only saves money for the government and military, but also provides a quality Arabic language program that better prepares the student for the cross cultural competencies needed in a defense language context. Further projected and anticipated outcomes of the study will improve America’s national security and transform government language training to meet 21st century requirements.
Definition of Key Terms
Defense Language Proficiency Test-V (DLPT-V). A foreign language proficiency test offered by the Defense Language Institute for the purposes of determining overall language proficiency of foreign languages by native English speakers working in defense contexts. The DLPT-V is the latest iteration of such a test, offering both multiple-choice and constructed response versions of the test (Defense Language Institute, 2012).
Educational Technology. This field has many varied definitions, but for the purposes of this study it refers to any type of technological resource or process that is used for the express purpose of learning and performance improvement. This extends to software and hardware, as well as Internet-based resources and activities that are used for learning (Lowenthal & Wilson, 2010).
Foreign Language (FL). A language that originates and is commonly used in a country not of the speaker's origin (Stern, 1983).
Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR). A scale of language proficiency, which is the default grading scale in Federal occupations for language skill or proficiency. The scale runs from a 1 (elementary proficiency) to a 5 (native/bilingual proficiency) (Herzog, 2012).
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). An interview-based standardized test used to determine functional speaking ability and language proficiency (Breiner-Sanders et al., 2000).
Task-based language learning (TBLL). A method of language instruction focused on using authentic language and the administration of tasks through the language in question. Components of TBLL include the pre-task, task cycle, and language focus; these strategies are meant to connect language learning with definitive actions to create a more practical learning environment (Willis, 1996).
Brief Review of the Literature
The Arabic language is a Semitic language, which is spoken by at least 330 million people around the world. The highest concentration of Arabic speakers live in the Middle East, wich extends from the Persian Gulf to the Pacific Ocean. The formal written language is called Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), so named because of the appropriation and evolution of new words and phrases that have been incorporated into the original language. This is the version of Arabic that is now commonly taught to native English speakers, particularly in major defense language courses (DLI, 2006). Due to the high military significance of nations in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, a working knowledge of MSA is necessary for effective interactions with nationals from those areas.
The Arabic language is intricately structured and derivational, and morphology plays an important role in its vocabulary and grammar. In MSA, short vowels are omitted to the level that Arabic letters are written without diacritic signs. This leads to an incredibly complex language with different derivations and morphology than Romantic languages such as English, making it incredibly difficult for English native speakers to learn. Dedicated language learning is necessary to imbue effective Arabic oral language proficiency in native English Speakers, which necessitates solving some of the inherent problems in existing language instruction.
2. Communicative Competencies
Communicative competencies comprise the basic, fundamental language skills needed to convey ideas and exchange information between individuals. These basic skills include the understanding of the times and contexts in which to speak, what to speak about and in what way - the fundamentals of language use (Kamiya, p. 65). This also includes cultural knowledge and interactional order, necessitating an understanding of cultural and social norms within the native culture in which the language is spoken. Second-language acquisition necessitates the instruction of communicative competencies in order to effectively learn how to use the language in a socially acceptable way.
Heath offers insights for use in the dissertation study for investigating any difficulties in the area of Americans learning Arabic. This study specifically addresses the learner and his/her creativity in Arabic communicative competence as it applies toward competently completing both the DLI course and the OPI (Heath, 1987).
Alptekin (2002) discusses the notion of communicative competence that suggests native-speaker competence is the metric by which communicative competence is decided. In addition, he argues that this particular norm creates an unrealistic and utopian model for language learning that makes it impossible for SLA to be considered complete or sufficient. Native speakership is said to be a myth of linguistics, and infers that the native-speaker's culture is the mainstream, as is its language. Considering language in this way is said to be constrictive and unhelpful for those learning second languages, and as a result new notions of communicative competence are required. In order to achieve communicative competence for language teaching, the following would have to be adhered: creating successful bilinguals that celebrate knowledge between cultures, and offering both domestic and international contexts as settings where non-native languages are used in instruction. This creates a more tolerable and reachable means of achieving communicative competency (Alptekin, 2002).
3. Importance of Language Teaching as it Relates to Culture
In a military context, defense language instruction is an important tool to understand and interact with individuals and groups in foreign cultures. Language anthropology is a crucial part of studying contemporary cultures; in both native and non-native cultures, second language acquisition allows for a greater understanding of global cultures, permitting deeper immersion and more effective interactions with foreign language speakers. As the Middle East is an area with high military pertinence and sensitive cultural tensions, effective Arabic language instruction will provide officers with cultural sensitivities and greater understanding of diplomatic use of defense language.
Jones, D., Shen, W., Granoien, N., Herzog, M., and Weinstein, C. (2005) demonstrate the need for live Arabic speakers in a military context due to the inadequacy found in most Arabic machine translation units. Educated native-English speakers were given versions of a Defense Language Proficiency Test for Arabic which were run through machine translation units, and asked to read them. The accuracy of these MT units was enough to pass Level 2 performance, but not Level 3. With this in mind, it is clear that machine translation is still not preferable to live, thinking and Level 3-proficiency Arabic speakers for defense language contexts; this further underscores the need for effective language learning in the DLI and other locations (Jones et al., 2005).
Albert (2001) discusses language anthropology in terms of using language to study a contemporary culture - in this instance, using contemporary France as an example. Discursive practices found in evidence can help to enlighten students on how a culture or nation-state is created - examining its language shows the linkage between the way language is practiced, how this language is perceived by others, and what it says about their sociopolitical contexts. In this way, a learner can learn more about the nature of a society by examining language anthropology (Albert, 2001).
Custar (2011) examines the effects of English Language Learners (ELL) in American high schools to demonstrate the link between oral proficiency and academic achievement in SLA. There is a significant achievement gap to be found between those ELLs with poor oral proficiency and those who are native speakers or have high oral proficiency, demonstrating the need for fluency in a language, even an L2 language, to communicate and perform well academically. Furthermore, the competencies that are learned through SLA may create skills that improve academic achievement; either way, Custar (2011)’s research discovered a positive association between oral language proficiency and academic achievement.
4. Age Variables
One of the most prescient problems in Arabic language learning is the age of the student undergoing instruction. Depending on the age and type of student (military/civilian), there are a number of unique stressors that are present (Morreale, 2011). Furthermore, the age of the student is important in determining proficiency of their first language, which plays a substantial role in the efficacy of second language acquisition and instruction. A happy medium must be found between students mature enough to handle the stresses of Arabic language instruction and young enough to display the enthusiasm for the material (Morreale, 2011).
Al-Dali presents applications for the dissertation in reviewing if the age of the U.S. student learning Arabic has a factor in identifying problems in the training process particularly in the design of the DLI shorter course. Al-Dali also points to the fact that the competency of the first language should have consideration in teaching any second language toward competencies upon finishing the second language study. This point opens valid implications for teaching Americans Arabic and his/her competencies in English (Al-Dali, 1996).
Morreale (2011) demonstrates the particular stressors and anxieties present in non-military personnel, focusing on university students studying abroad. The importance of immersion in foreign culture is emphasized, as study abroad students are shown to have less stress and anxiety in the language learning process than those who have not experienced immersion in a target culture. The experience of foreign culture immersion as a language learning tool is shown to dramatically improve motivation in SA participants, as they are able to more easily place vocabulary and grammar in proper societal and cultural contexts (Morreale, 2011).
Fischer’s study provides relevant examination and conclusions for the dissertation research toward a rapid Arab language program for Americans. Fischer’s study group derived from the DLI program at the Presidio at Monterey and clearly aligns with the dissertation intent toward the same type of DLI group. His findings determined factors for consideration in the dissertation study directed at the means for conducting the DLI and OPI exam face-to-face compared to the distance modalities in determining the success of the testing face-to-face and on the telephone compared to face-to-face versus the desk top computer (Fischer, 2004).
Americans are not the only culture to have trouble learning Arabic. Sicard (2001) examines an experiment taken in Montpelier to teach Arabic in local secondary schools. These efforts were also put in place to bring language learning to younger children, and to offer greater social integration between Arabic speaking students and native French speakers. The pupils, due to their enthusiasm, as well as the increasing demand for Arabic language instruction, are encouraged to continue the Arabic language learning initiatives. This helps to create the correlation of youth having a great enthusiasm for learning new languages, and the community support such initiatives can receive (Sicard, 2001).
In a military context, learning Arabic is particularly important. Nichols (2010) describes the desire for formal Arabic language instruction found in very high numbers in Iraq War veterans. In essence, narrative research strongly indicates that cultural and linguistic experiences in Iraq are determined by those who are there in a military situation to be quite important to their successful interaction and operations there. Those encountering Arabic language speakers without proper instruction often wish to learn more about the language later, in order to provide further enlightenment as to Arabic cultural and language norms (Nichols, 2010). If this type of instruction is applied to military personnel before their deployments, more positive and productive cultural interactions (as well as effective military operations) can be attained.
5. Accessibility of Universal Grammar
Universal grammar refers to the applicability of common grammatical and vocabulary terms and trends in different languages. The concept is used frequently to refer to the ability for language learners to tap into commonalities between native and foreign language. UG is then used to gain a better understanding of the second language. Curricula and second language instruction must tap into this universal grammar to create an effective gateway for native English speakers to effectively learn Arabic. A strong focus on both grammar and vocabulary instruction in SLA courses is conducive to improving universal grammar in students (Al-Qadi, 1991).
Al-Banyon’s research into universal grammar acquisition among adult English speakers learning Arabic is less likely than among the younger learners. In his study, “The Accessibility of Universal Grammar in Language Acquisition: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective” the results of his study directly provide considerations for application in the dissertation research, particularly, since Al-Banyon determines the adult American (English speaker) has less access to the universal grammar in language acquisition that prompts the likelihood of the learner facing conditional issues in the “functional computation of components in the bilingual brain/mind (Al-Banyon, 1996)”.
In his study, Al-Qadi (1991) research findings revealed that second language teaching/learning programs often focus only up on the grammar leaving the acquisition of vocabulary at an unsatisfactory level. This failure of language programs to give the learner prompts for acquiring more vocabulary words is a valuable operant for consideration in the dissertation focus to design a shorter, yet comprehensive Arabic language study for American learners (Al-Qadi, 1991). The need for vocabulary acquisition in post-secondary level language learning courses, and that web-based components to SLA learning can be equally effective at imparting vocabulary acquisition, oral proficiency development and other attributes of SLA onto students has been established (Isenberg, 2010).
White (1985) discusses a 'logical' problem involved with second language acquisition that allows for the possibility of universal grammar. Second language learners face a problem when needing to determine every single complexity of adult grammar in their second language of choice. However, White argues that there are certain innate principles that orient the learner to the extent where they may excel at SLA. Once these principles are learned, as part of universal grammar, research suggests that they acquire complex knowledge of the second language that exceeds the input they have received. Teaching implications for this framework involves putting in more than just positive input to an L2 student in order to pick up on universal grammar; the complexity of the specific L2 grammar must be identified before finding ways to connect it with the L1 grammar (White, 1985).
6. Problems Teaching Arabic to American Students
In order to have effective Arabic language instruction, the current trends in the field must be determined. The existing issues with Arabic language learning among American students, both military and civilian, must be improved upon in order to create more effective defense language curricula. The major problems found in most Arabic instruction include a lack of motivation, lack of engagement with the material, anxiety and stress, among others (Smith, 2009; Uddin, 2009; Elkhafaifi, 2005). These issues, both with student personality and instruction type, exclude students of some study styles and limit the success rate of defense language courses.
According to Zouhir (2010), English-speaking students learning Arabic have difficulties with the phonics, syntax and with structuring words. Zouhir emphasizes that her study reveals “not enough” has been researched by educators about the issues that affect learning and teaching Arabic among American students. Her research aligns with the focus of the dissertation for identifying the problems for American students learning Arabic in determining/creating the faster time version of the DLI Arab language program (2010).
Smith (2009) describes the importance of motivation in long-term language achievement; native English speakers find the effort and the desire to persist in language learning to a greater extent than is minimally required of them in a university setting. Education programs, particularly involving L2 language learning, are shown to have greater efficacy when the primary source of motivation is changed over time and internally regulated by the learner along with long-term goals (Smith, 2009). This has the effect of creating more effective language learners, and must be emphasized in new language learning programs regardless of context.
Uddin (2009) examines the importance of role play and storytelling in the process of SLA; using such techniques such as these have been shown to be effective in creating greater competencies for SLA students. Role play helped their communicative skills, including vocabulary enhancement, and made students more fluent in indirect vocabulary. With the help of storytelling, the students had occasion to make full use of their vocabulary, creating the process of independent learning within the students with regards to their SLA learning. At the same time, this was shown to only be beneficial to intermediate and advanced-level learners; elementary-level learners did not have the basic vocabulary to participate effectively in role-playing and storytelling activities (Uddin, 2009).
Shirley (2007) studied the relationships between personality and SLA - while individual differences and learning are known to exist, this has been studied little in terms of learning the Arabic language in a defense context. Military students studying Basic Modern Standard Arabic at the DLIFLC were studied based on their personality traits and their proficiency learning BMSA; the NEO-PI-R domain level personality measures were used as a metric to quantify certain traits that could be linked to better or worse language proficiency. The results supported the notion that certain personalities were more suited to learning BMSA at the DLIFLC, allowing for the possibility of greater selection criteria for candidates to learn Arabic as an L2 language (Shirley, 2007). There have also been shown to be tremendous issues in creating standardized tests for Arabic language proficiency (Winke and Aquil, 2006).
Elkhafaifi (2005) discusses the role of anxiety and stress as a role in classroom performance in an Arabic language learning classroom. The presence of stress and anxiety is shown to have tremendous detrimental effects on the efficacy of language learning classes for native English speakers learning Arabic as a second language. Approximately 1,320 hours of intensive instruction in structured programs are required for notoriously difficult languages including Arabic; compared to 480 hours for learning French or Spanish, this makes Arabic a comparatively difficult language to learn for a native English speaker. Far too many students learning Arabic give up after approximately one year of study, frustrated at lacking communicative competence. Innovative methods to address these stressors and anxiety causes - stemming from the difficulty and reputation of the language - must be addressed in order to create more effective teaching methods (Elkhafaifi, 2005).
7. Efficacy of Preparatory Courses for Learning Languages
In order to address the problems found in most Arabic defense language instruction, preparatory courses of many different kinds have been developed. These initiatives demonstrate unique designs for defense language courses which seek to increase the oral language proficiency of students (St. Pierre III, 2008; Bustamante, 2009). Selection processes and scaffolding learning environments are also initiatives commonly used in defense language environments to determine adequate candidates for language instruction and offer well-constructed curricula toward that end (Hughes, 2010; Alm-Lequeux, 2001). These preparatory courses are also designed to address the common problems of motivation and confidence in foreign language learning; consequently, effectively conducted prep and pilot courses appear to be the most likely method for improving defense language instruction.
St. Pierre III explains the focus of his study specifically measures the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s (DLIFLC) Introduction to Language Studies (ILS), the language learning success through its preparatory course. The benefits of this study in support of the dissertation work gives validity to the focus of designing a DLI shorter Arab language program and provides critical implications for consideration to the efficacy of the proposed program (St. Pierre III, 2008).
Vakilifard (2008) denotes the need for expository text comprehension in second language acquisition - this is said to be one of the most influential components of understanding an L2 language and applying it in an effective manner to practical life. A concept map-based intervention was applied to a French second language learning course in order to improve their overall scores and gain greater comprehension of informative texts. However, this strategy proved ineffective in inferential comprehension (Vakilifard, 2008).
Bustamante (2009) measured the effectiveness of TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) pilot courses for basic Spanish language learning. This has been shown to have a tremendous effect on motivation and confidence in results among students - the majority of students had a positive reception and increased comfort level with the pilot program, which involved reading out loud, standardized writing assessment involving spontaneous writing, and other diverse methods (Bustamante, 2009). This demonstrates the efficacy of an interdisciplinary, innovative program with high student involvement in L2 learning courses.
Currently, the US Air Force Academy employs a selection and placement policy in order to allocate the more "appropriate" students into either Chinese, Arabic or some other strategic or defense language. Their current policy models involve measuring first language ability, motivation variable, student choice, and other factors. These factors were evaluated in order to discern the predictive model that would get the students who have the highest aptitude for becoming effective learners of Arabic. The most important factor, it has been found, is motivation; L2 teaching initiatives must tap into motivation and create the most ideal environment for defense language learners (Hughes, 2010).
Alm-Lequeux (2001) demonstrates a scaffolded learning environment to teach indirect speech, using the Internet to increase cognitive readiness and create a more effective second-language acquisition program. Internet-based education like this is said to extend the user's contact with the language in question, as well as its culture - in order to meet the Zone of Proximal Development, a virtual community can be created that allows for further language learning and exposure. This model is shown to be effective in teaching indirect speech in SLA, following a Vygotskian approach (Alm-Lequeux, 2001).
It is absolutely necessary, in a globalized military, to teach cross cultural competency to those who will be interacting with others of a different culture (Abbe, Gulick & Herman, 2007). Increased interaction with Arabic cultures in military operations, for example the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, make it more pressing than ever to provide military personnel with the skills needed to successfully and peacefully interact with native Arabic speakers. The problem is many educators, linguists and scholars in the field of teaching Standard Arabic language need to continue to conduct research identifying specific difficulties Americans encounter throughout their learning of Arabic in the classroom (Duarte& Carmen 2008) while other studies explore the challenges of teaching Arabic (Strout & Erin 2006).
Investigating the Relationship between Creativity and Communicative Competence Strategies among Bilingual and Bi-dialectal Adolescents (TESOL)” offers insights for use in the dissertation study for investigating any difficulties in the area of Americans learning Arabic. “The Age Variable: An Investigation of English Acquisition Among Arabic-Speaking Intermediate-Level Students in the State of Kuwait” presents applications for the dissertation in reviewing if the age of the U.S. student learning Arabic was a factor in identifying problems in the training process particularly in the design of the DLI shorter course. Fischer’s “Comparing Face-To-Face and Distance Modalities in Conducting Arabic and Russian Speaking Proficiency Testing” study provides relevant examination and conclusions for the dissertation research toward a rapid Arab language program for Americans.
Al-Qadi’s research “Acquisition of English Derivational Morphology by Arab Speakers” findings reveal that second language teaching/learning programs often only focus on the grammar and leave the acquisition of vocabulary at an unsatisfactory level. Al-Banyon’s research into universal grammar acquisition among adult English speakers learning Arabic is less likely than among the younger learners. According to Zouhir, English-speaking students learning Arabic have difficulties with the phonics, syntax and with structuring words. St. Pierre III explains the focus of his study specifically measures the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s (DLIFLC) Introduction to Language Studies (ILS) the efficacy language learning success through its preparatory course.
Some of the primary issues discovered in the research involve problems with stress, anxiety and motivation - regardless of context; whether it is in a university or defense language setting, often language learners have difficulty handling the pressure associated with learning a second language. Their motivation decreases along with their confidence, and lower efficacy results in their learning. As a result, dramatic changes need to be made to existing curriculum, involving improved methods to increase motivation and lower anxiety/stress.
In a defense context, predictive models do help to target appropriate candidates for defense language learning, in languages like Chinese and Arabic. However, the responsibility falls to defense language instructors to create and apply a curriculum that fully engages the students and increases their oral proficiency and vocabulary. These activities must involve interdisciplinary and diverse activities that involve immersion in the target culture, along with web-based and role- playing elements. This would equip these students, soldiers and officers more adequately for life while deployed in Arabic-speaking countries, thus creating more effective mission outcomes and greater interaction with the host culture.