At the Language Training Center, participants live the language through a variety of experiences designed to be meaningful, authentic and relevant. Participants apply their technical knowledge of grammar and vocabulary in order to solve problems, create, analyze, discuss and connect with people in the target language. Learning experiences at Concordia emphasize the use of language to investigate, explain and reflect on cultural perspectives across content areas including history, science, philosophy, art and music.
Three to four hours per day are devoted to interpretation (reading and listening) of texts that deal with general topics of importance across the Department of Defense, including military, security, economics, politics, science and technology, geography, society and culture (2 hours of small group time is independent in virtual programs). Staff members typically work with all small groups of participants over the course of the program, providing for variety in exposure to topic areas, teaching styles and accents. Topics are explored through engaging texts of different genres, from opinion pieces and research, to social media posts, to podcasts and interviews that present diverse perceptions of and perspectives on current events.
In residential programs, the culinary arts team prepares a broad range of authentic dishes inspired by the cuisine of different regions and various communities that speak the target language. We eat family-style, providing ample opportunity to practice proper dining etiquette and the nuances of casual social interaction. The instructional team offers formal and informal prompts for mealtime conversation, or revisit topics and material from small learning group sessions.
Hands-on operational and cultural activities are offered for two-four hours daily (one to two hours daily in virtual programs), to allow participants to practice accomplishing practical tasks that they might be required to do in their jobs, such as relaying or interpreting messages in the target language, preparing a brief, interpreting cultural artifacts for site exploitation or accomplishing tasks in the target language as a team. Other hands-on activities require active interaction with cultural practices and products. Activities include simulations, such as attending a culturally-specific celebration or shopping in a simulated market. Other days students produce or consume cultural products, such as authentic music, arts and games. By discussing different preferences, impressions and associations with staff, participants develop a greater awareness of the culturally contingent nature of their own tastes and associations and an empathy and appreciation for those of the target culture.
All courses offer students opportunities to engage their own interest, background and creativity to research, plan and produce a presentation or item to share with the group, with support and guidance of staff. Some programs offer multiple project opportunities. All programs celebrate participant accomplishments at the end of the program by gathering to allow participants to present their work.