News ItemsTraining Cross-Cultural Skills

Training Cross-Cultural Skills

Aptima and Diplomatic Language Services Extending Cross-Cultural Training Tool for Defense Language and National Security Education Office

Web-based tool combines Russian, Mandarin language skills with cross-cultural proficiency

Arlington, VA–December 12, 2016 – Aptima, Inc., the leading human-centered engineering company that applies expertise in the disciplines of how humans think, learn, and behave, announced today that it has received a $805,000 award from the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) to extend cultureReady Basics, a web-based cultural training tool for building cross-cultural proficiency in personnel engaged in cross-cultural situations.

Whether at home or overseas, it is critical for military and civilian personnel from the Department of Defense (DoD) and government to recognize and overcome cultural barriers in order to partner and work effectively with those from other cultures. To address this challenge, Aptima originally worked with DLNSEO to develop cultureReady Basics to introduce individuals to critical topics within the cross-cultural competence (3C) domain, providing tools to help improve future interactions. Under the current contract, Aptima has partnered with Diplomatic Language Services (DLS) to extend the trainer to develop language proficiency, initially focusing on Russian and Mandarin, and to include more culture-specific training for DoD personnel. Arabic and other language version are expected to be developed in the future.

“While the content of the original cultureReady Basics training was generic in nature and designed to provide a foundation for individuals in any cross-cultural interaction, the foreign language versions will be designed to include examples and scenarios specific to a particular culture, such as Russia,” said Dr. Krista Ratwani, Director of Aptima’s Advanced Cognitive Training Skills Division. “Whether for seasoned professionals looking to take a ‘deep dive’ into a culture or novices looking to develop new skills, the foreign language versions of cultureReady Basics will allow individuals to move at their own pace through the training, revisit concepts they may struggle with, and point them toward additional resources if they want to learn more.”

Housed on the DLNSEO website and taking roughly 90-minutes to complete, the training is organized around four general cultural competencies identified by DLNSEO: acquiring and applying culture-general knowledge; cultural learning through observation; demonstrating cultural self-awareness; and cultural perspective taking.

Based on the success of the cultureReady Basics tool, DLNSEO is now supporting the development of additional foreign-language versions, which will pair the culture-general competency approach of the initial training with culture-specific content and scenarios and advanced language support for the focal languages and cultures of interest.

To ensure real-world application of language and skills, the language scripts and narrations will be designed to conform to the 2+ -3 levels in listening and reading on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale, the gold standard for language proficiency in the U.S. federal government.

As the original developers of the existing cultureReady Basics tool, Aptima is supporting the development of new content and extending the tool to be accessible to foreign language populations other than English. DLS, which has extensive experience with large scale curriculum development projects for language, regional expertise and culture (LREC) training programs in more than twelve languages, is providing language translation and culture-specific expertise.

The cultureReady Basics project is funded by DLNSEO under Contract # H98210-16-C-0021. The original cultureReady Basics tool can be accessed at