[Originally published by Royal Danish Defence College]

Within the framework of NORDEFCO language cooperation, an inaugural seminar, will be held on the 14th-15th of June 2016, for teaching professionals from across the Nordic countries involved in what is commonly known as LSP – Languages for Specific Purposes. The seminar will be hosted by the Institute for Languages and Culture, Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC) in Copenhagen.

The keynote speaker is Elizabeth A. Thomson from the Centre for Defence Research at the Australian Defence College in Canberra. Thomson is a leading researcher within socio-linguistics and intercultural communication in a military context and has co-authored and edited one of the few professional publications on the importance of foreign languages in the military, Languages in Uniform (2015).

Four Nordic defence colleges represented
In addition to Thomson, each of the participating countries, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, will present national studies related to the seminar topic, which centres around the role of needs analysis in foreign language teaching for military purposes.

Networking is important

Allan Juhl Kristensen, Head of English and Language Testing at the Institute for Languages and Culture, notes that even though the conference theme is interesting in itself, it is equally important that language teachers and managers get an opportunity to forge links with colleagues who also specialise in language teaching for military professionals. The language departments within the Nordic armed forces are generally small at the national level but through professional discussion and exchanges, we can glean valuable knowledge and insights from colleagues and institutions that are comparable to our own and find themselves in similar circumstances, he continues.

On a practical level, Nordic networks create opportunities to exchange teaching materials, guest lectures or act as external examiners, collaborate on research and development projects and the writing of articles or simply have someone to call if a problem presents itself. For all these reasons, setting up and nurturing Nordic networks is important - a form, one might say, of inexpensive smart defence. 

Well-established Nordic collaboration
- As far as English language testing goes in accordance with NATO STANAG 6001, collaboration within the NORDEFCO framework is already well-established, Kristensen explains – It is the national POCs for testing who have initiated the seminar at the RDDC and they hope that if it proves successful it will become a biannual fixture with participation from the Baltic countries as well.