ESL StoryThe 434th Field Artillery Brigade initiated their own English as a Second Language Virtual Training Team (ESL VTT) pilot program to help lower the number of Trainees needing to be sent to the Defense Language Institute (DLI). With COVID-19 spreading across the nation, many bases have cut their courses and class sizes, which is what happened at Lackland Air Force Base where the ESL course is held.Fort Sill has continued to receive trainees throughout the pandemic. According to Lt. Col Robin Vandeusen, battalion commander 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery in charge of implementation, the pilot program is meant to help the Army handle the increase of ESL Trainees in a COVID environment here at Fort Sill.“Fort Sill started ESL VTT to help ESL Trainees improve themselves by utilizing virtual means to attain English proficiency before starting BCT. The program is a joint effort between the 434th Field Artillery Brigade and elements of DLI at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas,” stated Vandeusen.The program started on Nov. 9, 2020, and can accommodate 40 Trainees. The program is looking to expand to at least 80 Trainees in the weeks to come. The program has graduated nine so far who were then be able to move on to BCT.“It is a little bit easier for us going through the computer and less stressful then being in a classroom,” said Pvt. Sobourou Adoglo, from Porto-novo, Benin, West Africa. The program is located at the Truman Education Center and is accessible virtually. “The reason the program is good because it is interactive. I can interact with the instructor and he makes me better,” added Pfc. Alvaro Moreno, from Cuba.The Brigade has high hopes for the future of this program and how it will better equip the ESL program. “We hope to expand the Army’s available options for helping to improve ESL Trainee English proficiency. We operate daily in a COVID environment,” Vandeusen said, continuing, “and it is helpful to have multiple options for how we can continue to train as conditions change.”