Old 12-19-2014, 17:45   #1
Bechorg
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Thoughts on language

I just got done with my second French DLPT in which I declined in score from a 2+/2 to a...wait for it... 2+/1+. That means I get paid zilch for the next six months in hopes I can get the listening back up. I am that guy that checked the block on the last test and got complacent. Don't be me.

Don't let your language slip. I thought I was good and didn't put in any extra studying outside of school, and my listening score reflected that. Guys complain about the methodology of the test, whatever man, your score is a direct reflection of the effort that you put into it.

As far as I know going forward to get a 1/1 NCOER you will need a 1+/1+. Promotions will soon be tied to your language score. This means that you need to put in optimal effort during the Q and establish a strong base that you can improve upon, not maintain, throughout your career.

3/3 is achievable, and 3 in my class of 8 got there this year. The Groups are now putting money into their language lab and annual language training for everyone, and you need to take advantage of that and bring home some extra cheddar for mama to spend at the mall. In my opinion this is a welcome change and getting back to the roots in this way is a great step into the future. We are supposed to be language and cultural experts in our regions. 1/1 is a pitiful standard to set, but they had to start somewhere.

I will make an estimation that in five years, with the current slowed op tempo and focus on language, the average score for an SF operator will be 2/2. The change will only be brought on by it being tied to promotions and available time to commit to it. So I suggest you get ahead of the curve and put in the time!
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Old 12-19-2014, 18:01   #2
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Going to disagree with you brother. I recently changed from French to Russian as my Clang after 7months and a 6wk LET I was able to score a 2/2 on the OPI and in the 1+/2 range on the TORFL while on my LET. I took the DLPT days before my OPI and 1 week after my LET and I spent damn near every possible moment studying and preparing for my test and guess what I got on the DLPT 1/0+, the other 3 guys who also got 2/2 on the OPI scored 1/1, 0/0 or 0+/0. The DLPT is a test geared toward intel guys and translators if it was geared toward SF then it would be listening and speaking hmmm sounds like the OPI, which we only get FLIP pay for.
I will say it will be nice to see language become a priority again but only if they fully give us the resources to succeed at them, until then 1/1 will be a pain to maintain for guys that don't deploy to there target language countries. Because French did me so much good in Afghanistan
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Old 12-19-2014, 19:34   #3
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I did the same thing after not using Arabic for 3 years.

Our language school has DLPT related classes that are geared for that test. Most of the guys do the OPI, but I am just not as good at speaking as I am reading and listening. As you know you have to train for the DLPT from the start because it is a completely different method. IMO the pay is backwards, I would much rather employ someone who can speak in the language than someone who can only listen and read it. In my group at least I can say it is once again a priority with at least 4 weeks a year dedicated to being in class.

I still see nonsensical mixed language teams that seem brought together for no reason at all (French/Russian/Arabic) on the same team. They need to do a one time mix up of each group and realign the teams with languages, and then align deployments with those teams. Sure it would hurt for a year or so, but in the long run it would be best for the force. Maybe a SGM can fill me in on why assignments are done the way they are.

If I were an Ambassador in the Congo I would have much more confidence in a team with a good level of French across the board. We continue to set guys up for huge obstacles when they don't speak a lick of the native language. Until those things are set up, I don't really see guys getting too motivated.

Last edited by Bechorg; 12-19-2014 at 19:44.
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Old 12-19-2014, 19:57   #4
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A major problem is that language requirements change.

Prior to 9/11, I do not think we even taught Pashto or Dari. Probably not a lot of Chinese, either.

Lots of Russian and Eastern European language training though. The first teams into Northern Afghanistan did not speak the language and finally had to speak Russian (which they were not trained for, but a couple of guys had been in Russian slots before) with the Alliance as that was the only language they had in common.

Do we change soldier's languages to meet the emerging requirements, or keep older, less necessary languages on the books?

How many guys can we get to learn a new language to a 2/2 standard every five years? Some will never learn an additional language beyond their native tongue to that standard, no matter what the investment.

And who can say what the needs will be in ten years?

Makes me glad to have been a 7th Group guy who spoke Spanish.

TR
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Old 12-19-2014, 21:11   #5
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Makes me glad to have been a 7th Group guy who spoke Spanish. TR
Me too!

Language is painful. Dedicated Special Forces Soldiers will recognize that language competence is as important as weapons and MOS skills and they'll invest the effort required to become proficient in their assigned language. Those guys will reap the rewards further down the road. Opportunities for fun, travel and adventure will abound as capabilities currently being developed mature. The ones who don't get on board will suffer because assignments, schools, promotions, and bonuses will be linked to test scores. It will be tough because there's nothing fair about who gets CAT I and who gets CAT IV, about who benefits from a CAT I language spoken in friendly tropical paradises and who gets stuck with a language only spoken in a country they'll never get to visit short of wartime deployment so they can never benefit from immersion opportunities, etc. etc. Add that not every SFG(A) dedicates the same effort to their language program (leadership issue!) and expectations (shaped by the current training model designed to get a 1/1 on the OPI) are unrealistic, it's no wonder frustrations are overwhelming whatever minimal enthusiasm exists. Add that the Regimental program which is designed and funded to SUSTAIN the 1/1 for the CLANG assigned/taught in SWCS is now being forced to provide initial acquisition training for new languages (using sub-standard contracted instructors on a grossly abbreviated schedule [12 weeks to teach a CAT IV from 0 to 1/1? GET F***ING REAL!]). I could go on for pages. All it would do is piss me off and frustrate you guys. Besides - I would run out of bourbon before I finished. The only good thing is we have a phenomenal team running the Regimental Language Program. (Those of you waiting for language pay should check your pay stubs in a month or so for validation!) They've gotten admin contractors into all the language labs and they're doing their best to ensure the contracts servicing your requirements are the best we can get given the f'ed up contracting system. A lot of things have to change for it to get better and - bluntly - it will NEVER be perfect. Too many hotspots (that are always changing), each with its own language, not enough SF Soldiers to cover everything, and never enough time to train them in the appropriate language when a new crisis explodes. Oh well - enough pissing and moaning for one post.
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Old 12-20-2014, 13:46   #6
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Me too!

The only good thing is we have a phenomenal team running the Regimental Language Program. (Those of you waiting for language pay should check your pay stubs in a month or so for validation!)
Well that will be amazing considering I am owed a years worth of back language pay. Sad to say this is the Norm for most of my BN at least. Better get that 1/1 or no schools for you, get that 1+/1+ or no excellence on your NCOER, but don't worry we will pay you sometime

Sorry for venting but I feel language is a huge portion of our job and would love to see more put into a program that truly could make you fluent and not just study for a test.
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Old 12-20-2014, 14:08   #7
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Well that will be amazing considering I am owed a years worth of back language pay. Sad to say this is the Norm for most of my BN at least. Better get that 1/1 or no schools for you, get that 1+/1+ or no excellence on your NCOER, but don't worry we will pay you sometime

Sorry for venting but I feel language is a huge portion of our job and would love to see more put into a program that truly could make you fluent and not just study for a test.
No - You are well within your rights to vent. I'm amazed at the amount of patience exhibited across the Regiment when it comes to language pay. The system is set up for intel weenies; everything we do in SF is an exception to policy/regulation and our growth w/increased emphasis on language is happening years faster than the Army/DoD can change to keep up. The leadership is aware of the problem - especially the ones who've led from the front and gotten their own test scores current - they're owed back pay too. Hopefully we've addressed the pay issue so that most of the backlog has been resolved. To do it we had to send a team of contractors to DFAS to sit next to the one LOLITS who handles our language pay and hand jam thousands of records. We're praying this won't be a quarterly bandaid but nobody familiar with the problem is holding their breath. What we are hoping is that most of you owed back pay will see it about the same time the CC bills for Christmas show up. (You won't get to touch it but the wives will be happier!)
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Old 12-20-2014, 17:05   #8
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I attended a civilian language school with two gentlemen from 5th Group who both had a considerable amount of team time. They did really well on the OPI afterwards from what I hear. Is this common for SF soldiers to attend such schools or do they usually get stuck in a miliary school?
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Old 12-20-2014, 17:51   #9
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I attended a civilian language school with two gentlemen from 5th Group who both had a considerable amount of team time. They did really well on the OPI afterwards from what I hear. Is this common for SF soldiers to attend such schools or do they usually get stuck in a military school?
Provided they meet prerequisites, there are a number of avenues for SF Soldiers to pursue advanced language training. They include military and civilian schooling and language immersion opportunities in friendly foreign countries.
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A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.

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Old 12-20-2014, 19:33   #10
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it took until july of 14 to get paid back to feb 13

The 1/1 for schools doesnt impact me any more - the next course I go to will be retirement transition. Anything else that the army would want me to go to...
...well, I'd blow the DLPT to gt a 0+ to keep the army from sending me to any of the courses that they would consider sending me to between now and retirement.

...thats right gents, get a 1/1 or else. We'll pay you when we get around to it you no langugae speaking shit bags

BTW - we reserve the right to change your CLANG as we see fit.
...went to Arabic?
fuck you, youre going to Africa were they speak french

...learned french so you could keep up?
ha... fuck you - we are sending you to a place in Haiti were they speak creole and spanish

...finally got your head around getting a 1/1 on two langugages?
well, FUCK you again, yoou need to learn pashtu or dari

...hahahahaha YOU DID WHAT? You're trying to learn Dari?
mother fuck you buddy, you are going to go to school to learn Russian


We treat the language program like Gunny Highway treated PT shirts
...and then wonder why we have problems with the program

Or who knows... maybe I am wrong
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Old 12-20-2014, 20:12   #11
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Host nation immersion works - better for some than others, though. I'll never forget DH going into a cheese shop and asking for 500g of sliced "cash register" instead of sliced cheese. But German was pretty easy for me - Thai, on the other hand, not so much. That whole intonation and pronunciation thing and all...

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Old 12-20-2014, 20:23   #12
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They sure expect alot from you guys in the language department. Is C3PO in charge?
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Old 12-20-2014, 20:33   #13
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They sure expect alot from you guys in the language department. Is C3PO in charge?
Are you looking for the Comedy Zone, or the exit?

TR
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Old 12-20-2014, 22:07   #14
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I really think Host nation immersion is key to really understanding language, with 3rd Group doing the language swap still it makes it very difficult to do that. I was lucky and my new language required a LET nothing like living it 24/7 with a host family. Cant see group footing the bill for every team guy going on a 6 week LET.

I recently was able to take a Russian Slang class at NCS and it was great training, currently looking at Middlebury for some advance language training
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Old 12-22-2014, 07:08   #15
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I really think Host nation immersion is key to really understanding language, with 3rd Group doing the language swap still it makes it very difficult to do that. I was lucky and my new language required a LET nothing like living it 24/7 with a host family. Cant see group footing the bill for every team guy going on a 6 week LET.

I recently was able to take a Russian Slang class at NCS and it was great training, currently looking at Middlebury for some advance language training
Well IMO it is good to see and hear that Groups, especially 3rd Group, is getting back into LET. Nothing better to learn a language than living and breathing it. One of my biggest issues with guys that were Pashto, Dari and Urdu language speakers. Being in AFG they should have done a lot better in their OPI.

Rebuilding Language skillsets will be a lot like rebuilding our UW Skills.
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