Foreign Language

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by CivilAirPatrolCadet, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. CivilAirPatrolCadet

    CivilAirPatrolCadet AFROTC Non-Tech Scholarship Recipient

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    I thought it would be helpful to have a recent thread on foreign languages. So just a couple of questions to start it...
    1. What language should our younger lurkers/posters take?
    2. How important is a foreign language in the application process?
    3. How much choice does one have regarding foreign languages once at USAFA?
    4. What language experiences have our current/past USAFA cadets had (what language did they choose/get placed in, what was it like, travels to country that used that language, etc)?
    5. Has anyone validated a language course at USAFA?
     
  2. CivilAirPatrolCadet

    CivilAirPatrolCadet AFROTC Non-Tech Scholarship Recipient

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    Just some quick info about my foreign language background: I am a second year dual enrollment student taking my third quarter of Spanish. I was also wondering, what are my chances of being able to take Spanish at the academy? Is there a placement test?
     
  3. Wyofalcon

    Wyofalcon Member

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    1. Any language is a great language to begin learning! However the military has a few "strategic languages" including Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Arabic and possibly a few others.
    2. The study of foreign language is a mandatory part of the application.
    3. Once at USAFA DS /DD will take a language aptitude test and based on those results will be placed in a language (no choice yourself) although I believe some of the questions on the test asked about how comfortable you would feel learning a more difficult (strategic) language. If I am remembering correctly you also have the chance to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish or German or you have any. All of these factors play into the language one is placed in.
    4. I took Spanish in high school and was selected to take Mandarin, since then I have left USAFA and studied Mandarin as a part of a church service mission in Taiwan, I am seeking readmission now. I hope to continue my studies in Mandarin at USAFA as I lived in Taiwan for 16 months.
    5. I know a handful of LDS returned missionaries who have been able to validate out of 100/200 or even 300 level courses. It's not impossible by any means. Just keep in mind that USAFA's validation policies for any course are relatively strict.
     
  4. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    The military, in general, has a bias towards Arabic and Chinese -- for obvious reasons. However, Usafa has significantly more language choices than the other SAs. My DD is a French minor. I believe minors are currently offered in: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. As for High School - complete three or four years in a single language to build some degree of proficiency. You will be placed in most classes according to tests taken during BCT.

    As for which language, that is up to you. Perhaps others can chime in here, but if you are looking towards a job where you would use a foreign language (e.g. intelligence) then you may want to stick with Arabic or Chinese. If you simply want to be proficient in a foreign language, then any of the offerings are fine. Note that there are also some limited exchange programs available for general study and at foreign academies as well. Go through the admissions site and the opportunities are spelled out.
     
  5. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    Keep in mind that you may be placed in a completely different language than the one you take in high school.
     
  6. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I saw this posted:

    "2. The study of foreign language is a mandatory part of the application."

    Uh...NO, it's not mandatory.

    From USAFA's own website:

    "These suggested courses cover all four years of high school and will give you a very solid academic record. Remember, these are only our suggestions — you might need to modify them for your own situation." And then they list "suggested" classes to include: "Two years of a foreign language."

    I have asked this question very directly to the admissions folks as I have been assisting a family in Australia; their son wants to attend USAFA (father works for a US company, was sent to Australia) and is doing fine academically however his school doesn't offer any foreign languages. The word from admissions was "it's suggested but not required."

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
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  7. serendipity

    serendipity Member

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    I also took three semesters of dual credit Spanish before coming to the Academy. There is a placement test, but taking the Spanish placement test does not remotely guarantee that you will be placed into Spanish. I validated one semester of Spanish with the test and then got placed into German because there were 700+ freshmen that wanted to take Spanish. The best advice I would give to you would be to do your best on the test, and on the question that says something about wanting to continue if you validate 2 semesters, put yes. I put no, so that's probably one of the reasons that I didn't get placed into Spanish.
     
  8. SkiesToConquer18

    SkiesToConquer18 Member

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    I was scheduled to take Spanish I as a freshmen despite what I thought was relatively good performance on the application placement exam. I went to the Spanish department head and had a conversation with him in Spanish. He then put me in Spanish II. Talking to course directors (not necessarily the department heads) have helped me validate a couple courses. Additionally, a few of my friends expressed their interests in minoring in a specific language and were able to switch after being assigned to other languages.
     

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