Arabic training for soldiers

Now this is interesting!

Virtual Camp Trains Soldiers in Arabic, and More

In a dusty valley in southern Lebanon, “Sgt. John Smith” of the Special Forces scans the scene in front of him. Ahead is a village known as Talle. His immediate mission: to find out who the local headman is and make his way to that house.

All discussions with the villagers will have to be conducted in Arabic, and Sergeant Smith must comport himself with the utmost awareness of local customs so as not to arouse hostility. If successful, he will be paving the way for the rest of his unit to begin reconstruction work in the village.

Sergeant Smith is not a real soldier, but the leading character in a video game being developed at the University of Southern California’s School of Engineering as a tool for teaching soldiers to speak Arabic. Both the game’s environment and the characters who populate it have a high degree of realism, in an effort to simulate the kinds of situations troops will face in the Middle East. Talle is modeled on an actual Lebanese village, while the game’s characters are driven by artificial-intelligence software that enables them to behave autonomously and react realistically to Sergeant Smith.

Source [The New York Times]

By Natasha Tynes

I’m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.