U.S. troops aren’t the only ones increasing their proficiency in the Dari language before deploying to Afghanistan. Danish army 1st Lt. Soren Vase is among several international students, including three of his countrymen, taking classes at the Defense Language Institute.
“It is believed that Dari will be more useful in the future and that is why they have started this new cooperation with [DLI’s] Dari department,” Vase said. “We can meet these challenges beforehand so we are not caught off guard. We have very limited Dari capacity right now.”
The four Danes are going through at a faster pace than normal because two of them are deploying in August. Vase and the fourth Danish soldier will deploy in February, and they are trying to stay at DLI for a longer period of time.
“This place focuses a lot on reading and listening,” he said. “Since we’re going to be speaking a lot, talking to people, we would like to have some more emphasis on speaking.”
Vase learned most of his English as a kid but mostly because of a heavy influence of movies and music from the United States and Great Britain, but it’s still a second language, which can be confusing sometimes trying to learn Dari with English as the only binding language between him and his instructors.
“Especially in translation if you have to find a certain expression, it might be difficult,” Vase said. “It takes that longer time for us or we might have to rewrite something that would be easier in our native language.”
Vase lauded the learning atmosphere at DLI, especially the integration of electronics such as SmartBoards, laptop computers and iPods.
“The cornerstone of this place is the computer and the network and the servers,” he said. “It’s basically where everything is.”
Adding, “Our teaching team has been very good at finding supplemental material for us, we could move on to something else. We talk a lot about current events and news.”