On Delivering Six New Mission-Critical Language Releases for Military Use

Rosetta Stone recently released six new language editions available for military and government use – Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Arabic (Iraq), Swahili, and Bahasa Indonesia. Stay tuned for more information about when these languages will be available for Personal Edition! Read on for a behind the scenes look at the process of making these new editions.

dubai training and studios 2010 030It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to work with men and women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Iraq, but that’s exactly what a group of Rosetta Stone producers, content experts, and audio engineers did this year. During concurrent development of Pashto, Dari, Indonesian, Swahili, Urdu, and Iraqi Arabic Version 3 courses, we traveled to two far-flung locations: three weeks of training our new language experts in Dubai and many more weeks of audio recording in Istanbul.

These languages offered unique challenges for us, requiring the kind of interesting decision making we typically face in the development of our language courses. For example, we worked with a number of Pashto language experts to develop guidelines for the script; since there isn’t a single national standard for the written language (even the spelling of the name of the language alone is debatable). Another challenge we faced involved extensive logistical savvy in order to select Dubai and Istanbul as suitable meeting points for people from this many countries.

In between these multiple hurdles, some of our most vivid memories are the stories we heard from language experts who joined us for this project. One of our Dari voice actors had fled Afghanistan after facing persecution for bravely creating a documentary about women’s lives under the Taliban. Our Urdu voice coach often shared tales of his glamorous life as a successful soap-opera star in Pakistan. Swahili voice actors shared their perspectives on life in Kenya, and Indonesian actors were eager to share their cultures and traditions.z

We had these intriguing conversations during our breaks between recording sessions, usually while we drank heavily sweetened Turkish tea out of small, delicate glasses, or ate some delicious Turkish kebab. In Dubai, our many hours of intensive training were punctuated by trips to a vibrant and bustling local market, or souk, and by an unforgettable desert safari. Upon return to the office, our colleagues would share the bounties of local delicacies they’d bartered for at length, and then we’d spend days enjoying sticky baklava and Turkish delight during our meetings and lunch breaks.

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Lorna Selley

Lorna Selley joined Rosetta Stone in 2006, and since then has managed multiple projects for the development of new Version 3 language courses. Before joining Rosetta Stone, Lorna completed a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and has always enjoyed travel and language learning.
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