Bilingual officer cadets: a catalyst to Canadian training in Ukraine

By: Capt J.P. Coulombe, Public Affairs officer, Joint Task Force – Ukraine

Despite the fact that the Canadian Armed Forces have a handful of multilingual soldiers deployed as linguists on Operation UNIFIER, the troops face a very real challenge in their capacity building efforts: the barrier created by a third language.

Running many lines of efforts simultaneously is an ambitious endeavour. The language barrier between the mostly French-speaking soldiers of 2nd Canadian Division and their training audience adds a layer of complexity to the effort to pass on their knowledge and get the job done.

“Translation becomes a serious factor when you consider that every lesson and every instruction needs to be given twice, taking twice as long in an already condensed schedule,” explains the Training Company Commander, Major Pat Cantin.   “Many of our instructors have to formulate their own thoughts in their second language before it is translated to a third (Ukrainian). This means they have to be crystal clear if they want the information to reach the audience ‘intact.’”

Fortunately, the Ukrainian partners quickly understood the importance of having native speakers assist in the training delivery.  The issue was raised and a winning solution was put in place calling upon young Ukrainian officer cadets with English language abilities to help with the training.  So far, seventy-five cadets from the National Army Academy, the Air Force University and the Odessa Military Academy have…

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