In recognition of high-stakes assessments for which participants are training, two hours per day are devoted to the interpretation of authentic texts (reading and listening) at the 2+ and 3 levels. The assessments deal with topics over which participants’ technical language competency is likely to be tested after completion of the program. These include contemporary topics of general interest in the target culture regarding military, security, economics, politics, science and technology, geography, society and culture.
Participants apply the language assigned for independent interpretive practice to engage in discussions, debates and presentations related to current events and issues of relevance to communities where the target language is spoken. Each staff member works with all groups of participants on a rotating basis, providing for variety in exposure to topic areas, teaching styles and accents. The goal is for participants to reflect upon and engage productively with experiences, beliefs and opinions familiar to people in the region today. Topics are explored through a combination of texts of different genres, from news reporting to opinion pieces, to podcasts and interviews presenting perceptions and perspectives on current events.
During operational skills activities, participants will work together to solve problems and accomplish practical tasks, such as deciphering handwritten documents or fragmented recordings, translating official documents, interviewing applicants for a visa or creating a profile of an individual based on his or her personal effects. Other days, participants build their awareness of aesthetic preferences and values in cultural products and practices, as well as contemporary trends and fads of importance to communities that speak the target language, with a focus on social media literacy. Activities may include research into the development of a particular meme or Youtube channel trending in the target language or a feed from a popular platform such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram of social or political importance. Participants may be asked to research a form of music, art, literature or cuisine of importance to the target culture and produce a creative reflection on those products.