The ACMS kicked off its first ever Mongolian language program yesterday. Over the next 7.5 weeks four students will take a semi-intensive intermediate course in colloquial Mongolian. Each student received a fellowship ranging in size of $1,000-$3,000 plus waived tuition to participate in the program, which is part of a much larger ACMS initiative to improve Mongolian language training and to provide (eventually) accredited immersion courses for universities students.
Concurrent with the classes over the summer is a project to put the materials developed for the program up on a dedicated publicly accessible website. The ACMS has adopted an open courseware approach to the program in order to ensure that the materials reach their widest potential audience. More information about this aspect of the project will most likely be available in the fall.
Overall the program has a strong emphasis on the intermediate to advanced levels of training. The ACMS, as well as numerous Mongolian learners, has noticed that the largest proportion of materials available for learning Mongolian focus on the novice to beginner levels. In addition, there is a tendency in books that do focus on higher levels to miss numerous spoken forms of the language that do not necessarily find their way into the written form but are nonetheless extremely relevant in many contexts of conservation. Students who study Mongolian exclusively from the print materials available on the market often find themselves unprepared to effectively communicate when an opportunity finally arises to visit Mongolia. This program is intended to develop well rounded language users.