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The Elephant in the Room: Some Reflections on Language and Culture Instruction

This article is a survey of some historical, cognitive, and cultural features of institutional—particularly government and military—language training, to examine and plot a faster and less effortful trip to proficiency. My thesis is that our own cultural and institutional climates play a crucial role in what our students can learn and who they can become. Our institutionalized culture—the way it determines our perception of the world, our group, and its members—may be more responsible for our training results than are the imagined and projected limitations of our students.