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Gheorghe Badia, deputy head of On-site Banking of the Supervision Division at the National Bank in Moldova, talks about how his confidence in speaking English improved during the past five weeks at the English Language Enhancement Course (ELEC) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies April 3. (Marshall Center photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn)

By Christine June
GCMC Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (April 3, 2018) – Fifteen participants from 10 countries have now entered a network of more than 12,500 security professionals from 153 nations after graduating from the English Language Enhancement Course (ELEC) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies April 3.

This English language course is a specially tailored five-week, resident program for participants who will be attending the Marshall Center’s Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC), which starts April 5.

“This is an absolutely unique language program, which combines language skills development with the authentic CTOC content,” said Peggy Garza, chair of the English Language Programs Department for the Marshall Center’s Partner Language Training Center Europe (PLTCE). She oversees the ELEC courses.

She said that ELEC instructors – Jim Hinze and Thomas Soule – provide an atmosphere where the participants are at ease and able to practice and improve their English communication skills.

“During the last five weeks, we have had an excellent opportunity to improve our English language skills,” said Gheorghe Badia, deputy head of On-site Banking of the Supervision Division at the National Bank in Moldova. “We also established a CTOC network and made real friends from different continents, and through our discussions, we learned about the challenges our countries are facing.”

The instructors tailor the curriculum and vocabulary needed by security professionals who fight organized crime, focusing on presentation skills, public speaking practice and discussion strategies.

“The ELEC course gave us the opportunity to figure out all the different aspects of countering transnational organized crime,” said Maj. Heni Ben Youssef, chief of the Intelligence and Investigation Section of the Ministry of Defense in Tunisia.

Garza said this course is designed to improve their English language skills, especially their ability to communicate at a professional level on security topics.

Through reading materials, presentations by CTOC faculty, classroom discussions and videos, participants became familiar with the terminology and subject matter used in countering organized crime. At the same time, they are improving their understanding of the nature of other security threats affecting the global community.

“The Marshall Center spends a lot of money to bring you here,” said Professor Joe Vann, CTOC program director, speaking during the graduation ceremony. “The reason we do it is because the governments of Germany and the United States think it’s important to equip you with the skills and capabilities that will make you better in your job.

“We want you to go home with the confidence and knowledge that you can succeed and deliver to your superiors, and ultimately to your country,” Vann said.

Before the graduation ceremony, Garza has a tradition of asking soon-to-be graduates what were the most important things they learned during the five weeks.

“A number of you said that you have more self-confidence when speaking English,” she shared with the graduates during the ceremony. “That’s important because having confidence in communicating in English is a major goal of what we wanted you to accomplish during our course.”

She also shared that many of the graduates also talked about making international connections across continents, and learning topics and vocabulary necessary for not only attending CTOC, but also for their daily work when they get back home.

The graduates hail from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, Côte d'Ivoire, Japan, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, Thailand, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Candidates nominated by their governments to attend CTOC are required to be fully proficient in the English language. Proficiency is tested via an English comprehension-level test administered at more than 120 U.S. embassies worldwide.

The Marshall Center's PLTCE developed this English intensive language enhancement course for CTOC candidates who are moderately proficient in English.

The course is designed to improve participants' oral communication and listening comprehension skills, while focusing on course-related terminology necessary for successful attendance in the CTOC resident course.

These graduates will be joining 77 other participants from an additional 40 countries in the CTOC course.

Held twice a year, the three-week Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) focuses on how transnational organized crime threatens the national security of countries.

Lectures and case studies are used to examine the major methods by which transnational criminal organizations engage in illegal activities.

These, along with seminar discussions, provide in-depth knowledge about the activities of drug cartels, terrorists and transnational criminal organizations with a goal of understanding the necessary strategic level approaches to combating these threats.

Seminar activities focus on methods to combat this threat through the development of CTOC strategies, whole-of-government, and inter-regional solutions.

“Don’t ever let your new English language skills get dormant because English is one of the true global languages,” Vann said. “More and more people are connecting through the English language, and there is more opportunity to share ideas, which is really important.

The English language will open doors for you,” Vann said.