By Mohcine Chaouni Benabdallah, Canadian Forces Language School –
Few experiences expand your mind and your career opportunities as much as learning a new language. The rich heritage of bilingualism in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) gives members the opportunity to practice their second language every day. However, sometimes they may need an extra boost with language skills, or even need to learn a foreign language for operational requirements. Indeed, CAF operations in foreign countries require training in local customs and dialects, and much of that preparation comes from the Canadian Forces Language School (CFLS).
CFLS supports military training by providing Second and Foreign Language (FL) training to CAF members, helping them acquire the language skills they need to pass language tests, learn language trades like translation and transcription, and be at full operational effectiveness in foreign countries. Military Attaché positions and other staff-related functions abroad have high levels of required proficiency in relevant languages to help fulfil the CAF’s operational needs, graduates of the FL program find themselves better equipped to deal with challenges from Military Attaché assignments, from exchange postings around the world, to operational commands in Canada.
There are three types of FL training, each tailored to the requirements of the CAF and the needs of the member, with training curricula based on the principles of the communicative approach.
- The first type is General FL training. This approach focuses on the development of ability in all skills, with emphasis on listening, speaking and reading. The trainees undergo intensive, full-time instruction, learning the language quickly.
- Supporting these are specialty courses, which develop student abilities in all language skills, but focus on those skills required for specific positions or special duties and operations. This includes positions like translation and transcription, which require not only general language skills but also specializations in how to work in that language.
- Finally, CFLS also offers refresher courses. CAF members can attend these sessions to work towards the improvement of a language ability that has diminished through lack of use, or to maintain a previously attained proficiency level.
For each course, the course objectives depend upon the requirements of the operation, position or posting for which the training is required. They are also defined by the CAF organization responsible for each position requiring a FL ability, in consultation with the Canadian Defence Academy and the Individual Training and Education Establishment.
The FL program is crucial to maintaining good international relationships. Defence Attachés assist Canada’s ambassador in diplomatic tasks, and act as the representative of the CAF in interactions with the armed forces of the receiving country.
This post is also available in: Français (French)