VOA Learning English Lesson 4

A Military Education at West Point

Today we answer a question from a listener in Brazil who wants to know about the United States Military Academy at West Point.

West Point is a college for future Army officers. It has more than four thousand students. The students are called cadets. The school is located about eighty kilometers north of New York City.

West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States. General George Washington built a fort there during the Revolutionary War. The aim was to protect the Hudson River from the British soldiers. He moved his headquarters to West Point in seventeen seventy-nine in the middle of the war.

In eighteen hundred and two, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation to establish the military academy at West Point.

The education centered on civil engineering. West Point graduates designed many roads, bridges, harbors and railways for the young nation.

Today, math and science are still a large part of the education. But cadets can choose from almost fifty areas of study.

If cadets major in the humanities, they must also take many classes in engineering.

Not all the young men and women at West Point are American. This year, fifty-eight are from other countries. As many as sixty cadets can be international students.

International students are nominated by their governments.

They must satisfy physical and educational requirements. They must also do well on the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

After graduation, they return home to serve in their nations armed forces. Other services besides the Army also accept foreign students at their academies.

Major Joe Sowers, a West Point public affairs officer, says information about the military academy is available through American embassies. He says the presence of international students at West Point serves a purpose for the Army.

Major Sowers says cultural understanding is important for a modern-day officer. He says the American cadets begin the process of understanding that the world is bigger than their hometown and West Point and the United States of America. He says it is important for the cadets to establish relationships with those who come from different backgrounds.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report. You can learn more about higher education in the United States from our Foreign Student Series at voaspecialenglish.com.

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