Kansas University is now one of nine universities in the nation to be recognized by the Department of Defense as a Language Training Center.
The Institute for International Education, funded by the Department of Defense, recently gave KU $775,000 to teach languages to military personnel at two area facilities.
Through the grant, approximately 10 KU instructors will provide language training to officers at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and to U.S. Marines at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Army Special Forces officers at Fort Leavenworth will receive maintenance courses in Arabic, French, Spanish, Korean and German, while instructors will provide foundation courses in Japanese, Russian, French, German and Spanish to the Marines at Fort Leonard Wood.
Randy Masten, the assistant director of KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs, is one of the principal investigators of the Language Training Center Program.
“This is a really great opportunity for KU,” Masten said. “The ability to work with these military institutions and teach languages is something that we’ve got the depth and breadth of knowledge to do here at the university.”
Before applying for the grant, Masten said the university reached out to several facilities in the area to see who might be interested in the program.
Mike Denning, director of KU’s Office of Professional Military Graduate Education, said it was important for the university that the language instruction “meet the same requirements that we provide at KU.” The soldiers will receive college credit for the courses.
“The instructors will try to put it in the context of the military, that the officers will be utilizing,” he said. “But as far as the fundamental language and culture, it is a traditional class.”
For today’s soldiers, multilingualism is becoming an increasingly necessary skill, Denning said.
“At any given time, you’ve got American military forces operating alongside other military forces,” he said. “It’s critical that we understand not only the language but also the culture of the countries that we’re operating in.”