CAILS (Central Asian Interactive Listening Series) was part of an initiative led by Professor Uli Schamiloglu, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, to expand the U.S. national capacity in critical Turkic languages of Central Asia. The project aimed to provide cross-language training for students of languages in this region of growing global geopolitical importance and strategic significance for the United States.
CAILS is housed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Language Institute. It was supported in 2006-09 through a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education International Research and Studies Program.
The goal of the CAILS project was to develop and disseminate a series twenty online lessons designed to enable students with an intermediate level of proficiency in a Central Asian Turkic language to achieve advanced-level listening comprehension in Kazak or Uzbek. The lessons are freely available online for educational use by individuals and institutions around the world.
The CAILS lessons are content-based, focusing on topics related to Uzbek and Kazak history, politics, religion, culture, education, economics, language, and social issues. The lessons are designed around excerpts from videotaped interviews conducted by CAILS Associate Director Talant Mawkanuli in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the U.S. with prominent scholars, government officials, politicians, students, and leaders in business.
The CAILS project builds on the success of similar projects in advanced-level listening comprehension at the UW-Madison led by Benjamin Rifkin, RAILS: Russian Interactive Listening Series, and the T4 Foreign Languages Project; and Magdalena Hauner, Utamaduni Online: An Advanced Level Course in Swahili Language and Culture, managed by Language Institute Associate Director Dianna Murphy. The CAILS project uses the Multimedia LessonBuilder and Annotator, multilingual multimedia authoring tools developed for the T4 Languages Project.