Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Does Body Armor Have to do with Language Training?

I'm at the mid point of language training - 5 months down, 5 months to go. I was telling someone recently how I had to give a 10 minute presentation in Nepali on the American educational system, and I realized that sounds pretty impressive. So how come it doesn't feel impressive? Progress is hard to recognize when you're focused on what you still can't do.

A couple weeks ago, I met with a language training consultant. I took a bunch of personality tests with questions like: I think wearing medieval armor would be fun, true or false? Two years ago I might have answered true, but after a year of wearing 20 pounds of bullet-proof armor in Baghdad, I have a different perspective. The results of the tests were predictable - ISTJ, likes organized learning, etc.

Frankly, the meeting with the language consultant wasn't terribly helpful. The language test process came up and I shared how a lucky guess got me an extra half point in reading comprehension. She defended the practice, and I interpreted her response to mean that the test doesn't measure reading comprehension, but rather intelligence (aptitude). Interesting.