TRANSLATION PROBLEMS SERVE AMERICA POORLY ABROAD, ESPECIALLY in WAR ZONES-WHY ISN'T the GOVERNMENT PUMPING BILLIONS into TRAINING AMERICANS to SPEAK, READ AND TRANSLATE FOREIGN LANGUAGES, instead?
By Kevin Stoda, American teaching in Kuwait
I have been certified in teaching English, Spanish and German for nearly two decades. In the interim, I have taught foreign languages in Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the Unite Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. I have also worked in or volunteered in Honduras, Spain and Costa Rica. However, my original field of teacher training was history and the social sciences.
Meanwhile, I have also observed over the past three decades that America continues to be way behind the curve in terms of "global intelligence'.
By using the phrase "global intelligence", I am not just implying CIA-style or military intelligence. I am referring to all the range of common-sense-, geographic-, person-to-person-, and emotional intelligences which enable one to communicate well orally or in writing. Moreover, I am referring to the cultural, social, political, anthropologic, and ethnic intelligences needed to compete fairly and properly in a global market place, such as in China today.
Having spent a great portion of my adult life as an American ambassador abroad, I have often taken time to learn as much as I could about the language and culture where I have been working in. Therefore, I have some competence in reading Arabic and in speaking Japanese as well.
Believe me! Even if immersed in a different culture most of one's working day, one still has to work hard to acquire those linguistic and socio-cultural intelligences mentioned above.
However, American government officials, generals, and leaders in the American economy have never applied the time and resources necessary to acquire language competencies at an acceptable level-at least not since WWII.