Army Unit Learns Arabic with Videogame by Alelo

More than 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army's 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Irwin, near Los Angeles, will learn how to communicate in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Tactical Language & Culture Training Systems by Alelo.

The Tactical Iraqi and Tactical Pashto courses teach not only what to say in Iraqi Arabic and Pashto, but also how to say it and when to say it.

Trainees learn while playing PC-based, interactive, 3-D videogames that simulate social communications involving spoken dialogues and cultural protocols. Lessons focus on skills relevant to common, everyday situations and tasks. Cultural awareness covers non-verbal gestures and norms of politeness and etiquette that are most critical to communicate successfully.

The games have no shooting; trainees advance by correctly speaking to and behaving with the computer-generated animated characters. If the characters trust the trainee, they cooperate and provide the answers needed to advance. Otherwise, they become uncooperative and prevent the trainee from reaching the end and "winning."

Functional communication skills start within a few hours of play. From the first lesson, trainees listen to and speak in Arabic and Pashto using headset microphones, getting immediate feedback and guidance. Many rate the courses better than instructor-led classes.

The courses combine patent-pending technologies, including models of language, culture and learning; artificial-intelligence-based social and psychological simulations and Social Puppets Animations that guide the unscripted, autonomous behavior of the animated characters; and contextual, speaker-independent speech recognition models for non-native speakers.

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