By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
Being deployed in another country can cause issues to arise, especially if a hostile group cannot understand your language. For one Echo Company Cadet, overcoming a language barrier is something she hopes to do in the future.
Kylie Broderick, a student at North Carolina State University, is an expert-level Arabic speaker who hopes to continue learning as much as possible about the language to be an asset to the Army. She said having a person who speaks Arabic is a necessity overseas.
“I know it as well as you can know it without going outside the country to get a fluency level that’s more native,” she said. “I have an interest in languages in general, but this is a marketable language, especially in the Army.”
Before considering joining ROTC, Broderick said she knew of the need for Arabic speakers in the Army and decided to pursue a career path that would best incorporate her skill. She said Arabic speakers, especially women, are needed to help with the disconnect between language and gender.
“As military men, you can’t talk to the women,” she said. “You need women Arabic speakers to talk with women in the villages.”
Staff Sgt. James Cook said a job as a linguist, like the one Broderick is pursuing, is highly desired due to the lack of people in that position. He said meeting someone with that skill set is not a common occurrence in the Army.
“Unless they desire to learn it or they are actually from a region that speaks Arabic, it’s pretty few and far between to meet someone who can actually speak it,” Cook said.
After beginning to learn Arabic six semesters ago, Broderick said she has become adept at reading and writing Arabic. She plans to strengthen her speaking skills even more by visiting an Arabic-speaking country next summer.
Spoken Arabic varies from formal Arabic, which is what people see with most Arabic writing, she said. By practicing the language with native speakers, Broderick can further sharpen her skills.
“It’s more about being out with the people and speaking the language with them,” she said. “That’s when you get real knowledge of the language.”
Deployed in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, Cook has seen firsthand the importance of having someone such as Broderick at one’s side. He said many problems have been avoided just because he had an Arabic speaker with he and his fellow Soldiers.
“There were a lot of times where we were able to deter the escalation from going any further than what it was just because we had someone there who could tell them, ‘Hey, that’s not what’s going on here,’ ” Cook said.
Broderick feels her job as a linguist for the Army will also be important from a peaceful standpoint. She said those with her job can help build bonds and maintain a tranquil presence.
“As we get away from wartime, we’re going to need to coordinate civilian efforts with our military because we’re still going to maintain a presence there,” she said. “The only way we can build trust within those countries that we are maintaining a military presence in is to speak the language of the people.”
Broderick said many doors, such as continuing trade efforts, can be opened and maintained by being able to speak the indigenous language of a certain country. She said there will always be small inconsistencies with speaking a foreign language due to differences in speaking at a native level, but that people should start making a conscious effort to reach out and connect to other countries through more than just words.
“It’s not just a language,” she said. “It’s cultural.”