The Sergeants Speak: Identifying the Language Needs of the Royal Netherlands Army
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This study used a mixed-method approach to identify the English language needs of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the Royal Netherlands Army. Respondents for the Needs Analysis consisted of 62 former infantry NCOs and 11 subject matter experts (SMEs) for the design phases. A combination of both structured and unstructured interviews, along with a questionnaire, were used to collect data on language tasks. The results included their frequency and perceived difficulty; the language proficiency required and its context, combined with military vocabulary use. Twenty-six language tasks were identified in total. Participants in the research sample varied significantly in their retrospections. The context of their English language experience focused on military missions and multinational exercises. During these periods, the frequency of tasks was often high, and the communicative outcome was seen as critical for mission success. Most respondents reported that English is primarily essential in more senior NCO positions. SMEs determined that being able to read, listen to, and issue a standard NATO order on the B2 level are essential tasks in the initial training of NCOs. The results, combined with the wishes of SMEs, served as design principles for a task-based curriculum redesign. This study is intended as a model for future task-based needs analyses within the military domain.