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Afghan Pilots Learn English at New School

By Staff Sgt. Robert Wollenberg, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 14, 2008 – The Afghan National Army Air Corps here has opened a new school to teach English to Afghan pilots and other Afghan military professionals.

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Penni Shanahan, English Language Training Team leader, talks with instructor Glen Driggars (center) and student Lt. Jamal Udin, of the Afghan National Army Air Corps, in the hall of the language training facility at Kabul Air Base, Afghanistan. Shanahan and Driggars work for International Logistics Solutions, which is under contract to teach English to soldiers of the Afghan National Army Air Corps on behalf of the Combined Air Power Transition Force of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Fifty students are enrolled in classes designed for beginners without English skills and for more advanced students to improve their proficiency.

Students are given a test to determine where they should be placed in the curriculum. To be a pilot, a student must test above 80. As the international aviation language, English is a requirement for all international pilots.

“They have to score an 80, and that’s very difficult,” said Penni Shanahan, English Language Training Team leader. “If we can, we take one or two students with us (to lunch), so they can hear Americans speaking English.”

The students have assignments every night. They also use audio tapes and are required to speak English when in the schoolhouse.

“We’re having great, great results,” Shanahan said. “The students who are pilots are in the top class, and they are scoring 60s and 70s, so we’re almost there. And we’re not even halfway done, so that’s encouraging.”

To encourage the students, the faculty has ordered English dictionaries that will be loaned to each new student upon acceptance into the course. Laptops also are being ordered to help Afghans with their English studies.

The faculty works for International Logistics Solutions, a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin. Each teacher holds a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and has lived overseas. There are currently five teachers, two more are on their way, and more are being planned for.

“I was approached and asked if I’d be willing to come to Afghanistan and teach a group of pilots English so they could communicate with the tower,” Shanahan said. “And I’ve worked for American Airlines before doing that, so I said, ‘Sure.’

“It’s so much fun; it’s a blast,” she added. “These guys are so motivated and so excited about what’s happening in Afghanistan, how things are getting better, and they want things better. They want a future for their children.”

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Wollenberg serves with Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan
Combined Joint Task Force 82
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Click photo for screen-resolution imagePenni Shanahan, English Language Training Team leader, talks to students and staff in the language training facility at Kabul Air Base, Afghanistan. Shanahan works for International Logistics Solutions, which is under contract to teach English to soldiers of the Afghan National Army Air Corps. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA sign to students in the hall of the English language training facility in Kabul, Afghanistan, emphasizes the importance of the English language training course. International Logistics Solutions is contracted to teach English to soldiers of the Afghan National Army Air Corps on behalf of the Combined Air Power Transition Force of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAfghan Lt. Col. Anwar Odin (left) and Maj. Sulaiman study English with Paul West at the language training facility on Kabul Air Base, Afghanistan. West teaches English to soldiers of the Afghan National Army Air Corps for International Logistics Solutions, on behalf of the Combined Air Power Transition Force of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePaul West makes a point to Afghan Lt. Col. Anwar Odin (with pencil) at the language training facility on Kabul Air Base, Afghanistan. West teaches English to soldiers of the Afghan National Army Air Corps for International Logistics Solutions, on behalf of the Combined Air Power Transition Force of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageInstructor Glen Driggars (right) tutors student Lt. Jamal Udin of the Afghan National Army Air Corps at the language training facility at Kabul Air Base. Driggars works for International Logistics Solutions, which is under contract to teach English to Afghan soldiers of the ANAAC on behalf of the Combined Air Power Transition Force of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek, USN   
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