Since 2012, NC State faculty have helped hundreds of United States special operations soldiers learn a new language.
The university’s Language Training Center, one of only a handful across the nation funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), is designed to help those soldiers grow their understanding of languages they’ll encounter in the field: Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese, among others.
Professor Ruth Gross, head of NC State’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, has been instrumental in the center’s operations since day one. Serving as the principal investigator for more than $6.7 million in external grant funding tied to the center, Gross has been responsible for the concept, development and execution of language acquisition and cultural integration programs in partnership with the its military partners.
For her service, the Department of the Army recently awarded Gross the Commander’s Award for Public Service. Army officials and language center staff surprised Gross with the award during a welcome-back reception for Humanities and Social Sciences faculty on Sept. 8.
“The Language Training Center is amazing in that it helps the military engage people in different ways,” Gross said. “What we’re doing is providing soldiers and officers with communicative skills and a greater cultural understanding.
“It suggests that certain divisions of the military are trying to choose logic and reasoning rather than tactical alternatives, and that’s a wonderful goal that we’re contributing to.”
The Language Training Center grew out of a program called Project GO, a similar language initiative for ROTC students launched in 2009. Project Gold’s success led to a $1.8 million DoD grant that launched the center in 2012.
Now in its fourth year of operation, NC State’s center serves a broad range of military units, including the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the North Carolina National Guard, Joint Special Operations Command, Military Information Support Operations Command and the Special Operations Forces Teletraining System.
Looking ahead, Gross said the center aims to capitalize on opportunities to further engage NC State faculty with teachers at Fort Bragg. For more information about the Language Training Center, go to ltc.chass.ncsu.edu.