Language Opportunities at USAFA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by UsafaMufasa, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. UsafaMufasa

    UsafaMufasa New Member

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    I am an appointee to the Class of 2019 and had some questions regarding the language programs at USAFA:

    1. How "good" are the language classes? I am interested in minoring in either German or Arabic and am curious how proficient at their languages are students who take the required credits for a minor in a language. I know that at my high school students who took all 4 levels of a language still could barely speak it, and would like to know if a similar situation exists for students minoring in a language at USAFA.

    2. If I minored in German or Arabic, what would be the likelihood that I could spend a summer or semester studying abroad? How competitive are the slots for this? What can I do to improve my chances of being selected for such a program?

    Of course, any additional information about language opportunities. Also, any cadets who have experience with minoring in a language or studying abroad, please share your experiences!

    Thanks!
    UsafaMufasa
     
  2. mikki

    mikki Member

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    I'm going to try to reach some cadets who studied abroad and get some answers for you. They just graduated, so most have already gone on vacation for their 60 days, but I will try to reach them.
     
  3. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    DS is minoring in Chinese. He studied abroad for a few weeks, got to go to China for a Cadet military exchange program during the school year, and received another 1 month scholarship to go to Hong Kong over the summer. He is going to take Chinese as a senior so that he can get even better at reading and writing Chinese. If you have a knack for the language and you put in a lot of effort, you can get very proficient.

    See http://www.usafa.edu/df/dff/dfip/index.cfm "...including Cadet Summer Language Immersion Program (CSLIP), Cadet Semester Exchange Abroad Program (CSEAP), Cadet Semester Study Abroad Program (CSSAP), and Foreign Academy Visit (FAV) Program, as well as the Cultural Immersion Program (CIP) supported by the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation and USAFA’s Class of ’81 Endowment. Interested faculty and cadets should look for the call for applications, which is published each fall."
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  4. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    Not sure if this is a good basis or not, but I learned more in one semester of a language course here than I learned in three years of language courses in high school.
     
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  5. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    Do you think it is a bad idea to take such a common language as Spanish? Would it be to better to take a language that is more in demand from the AF, even with no prior experience in it? Is it even possible to minor in a language which you have no experience in beforehand? Also, what kind of things are required in order to be able to travel and learn the language?
     
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  6. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    No, I don't think it's a bad idea! It all depends on what you want to do and what you feel comfortable learning. USAFA will take into account your previous language experience, but ultimately, they will place you into whatever language they want to place you into. If your academic scores in high school are high, the odds are that they will place you into a "strategic language" such as Japanese, Chinese, Russian, or Arabic. All of the other languages exist, but if you are placed into one of these strategic languages, I think it's pretty difficult to get switched into a non-strategic language. It is very possible to minor in a language with which you have no experience! I was placed into Japanese with absolutely zero experience after taking 3 years of Spanish in high school, and I was planning on minoring in it until recently! There're two opportunities to travel and learn the language: CSLIP and exchange. CSLIP is Cadet Summer Learning Immersion Program (I think, not 100% sure that's what it stands for, but it's something related to that) where you go to the country of your language during the summer for three weeks and immerse yourself in the culture. Everything is paid for. The exchange program is where you go and spend an entire semester at a school in your country. For Japan, you would spend a semester at the National Defense Academy if you were studying a techie major, or at a civilian university if you were studying a fuzzy major. Once again, everything is paid for. The requirements aren't too stringent, I believe you have to interview for both and just be proficient in the language. I know exchanges happen the first semester of your junior year, and I think CSLIP might be the summer going into junior year. Another question you have to ask yourself is: What are you going to do in the AF with the language you learn? That could potentially answer some questions about what language is good to take as well!
     
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  7. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    So you don't actually get a choice in the language you study then? They pick for you?​
     
  8. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

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    You give your preference but they ultimately pick for you. If you already have 2 years of studying German and somehow get French then you may be able to petition the Language Dept to change.
     
  9. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

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    Our son's (class of 2013) exchange semester was the fall of his senior year. He did language immersion the summer after his sophomore year and then worked at a foreign U. S. Embassy the summer after his junior year.
     
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  10. UsafaMufasa

    UsafaMufasa New Member

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    How do they account for someone having experience in another language that they didn't get from high school. Like if I grew up speaking a foreign language in another country and still remember parts of it?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  11. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    They will give you a proficiency test during 1st Beast. From there, they decide if it makes sense to continue in the language you already know or put you into a strategic language class. I suspect a lot of people already know Spanish, so I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority get put into another language.

    My DD took 4 years of Spanish immersion in high school (luckily taught by a woman from Spain who would put students in the corner if they spoke any English in class! :eek:) DD placed out of all 3 mandatory language classes. They didn't put her into another language which is what I would have expected. It could be that she scored high enough that putting her into another language didn't make sense at that point?

    She's minoring in Spanish and plans on traveling to Costa Rica or Spain next summer as part of CSLIP.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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  12. Renegado

    Renegado Member

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    Baileydb, sent you a PM.
     
  13. mikki

    mikki Member

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    I'm going to try to reach some cadets who studied abroad and get some answers for you. They just graduated, so most have already gone on vacation for their 60 days, but I will try to reach them.

    Here is some information that I just received from a cadet that graduated this year, and spent a semester abroad. I will cut and paste what he sent me. I hope this helps.
    He also told me that if you have more questions, that I can privately give you his information to contact him. Any other questions, just let me know.
    ************************************************************
    1. The quality of the language courses probably depends on the language in question. I have a Russian minor from USAFA, and I can firmly say that I learned a lot here. On a whole, quality for all languages is higher than high school. Keep in mind that some languages like Arabic for example have an academic version and a "street" version. It was difficult for people from USAFA to speak Arabic to local citizens when they visited Morocco for a 3 week program.

    2. The slots for semester abroad are more competitive than a summer program because of sheer numbers alone. The Academy can afford to send maybe 3x the people for a summer program. To have a strong application, one must have high academic scores, military scores, and fitness scores. You will learn about all of these pretty quickly and what they all entail. In all, USAFA wants to send cadets that will be good representatives of the school and this country.
     
  14. UsafaMufasa

    UsafaMufasa New Member

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    I appreciate you contacting those graduates, mikki. Thank you everyone for the info


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  15. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    As always (and you should ALL know this by now), the needs of the AF trump your need to study German, or Arabic, or Spanish or whatever. You may indicate a preference. Good luck with that.

    My one son was given the option of Chinese or Portuguese and chose the latter since he didn't think he wanted to deal with symbols instead of letters. He went to Brazil, Portugal, and a few other places, and is considered fluent after knowing nothing of Portugal except for the Children of Fatima.

    The other guy took the proffered Spanish and was fine with it.
     
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  16. Daughnworks

    Daughnworks Member

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    Another language dilemma. I have a rising high school senior candidate at summer seminar right now. He is not particularly fond of language classes but keeps getting placed in language classes, probably, because of how he tests. Last summer and this summer, he won scholarship through NSA's, STARTALK program to study Mandarin as a desirable/strategic language. Therefore, by the time he begins his senior year, he will have 12 univ. hours of credit in Mandarin. We also do business in China so he gets to talk to our employees there and practice on occasion. This is beyond the Spanish and German (scored 30th in the state on a national exam and passed) of high school. He did this originally so he could be done with language requirements for college and double major for any regular univ. Of course, we all know, USAFA is no regular univ.
    Coincidentally, his roommate for Mandarin this summer is also with him at USAFA summer seminar this week. Both of them tried the same track.
    Is testing for proficiency mandatory? Can he be considered "finished" if he has 12 hours already? Primary concern is that he will lose proficiency in Mandarin over the course of his senior year and will not be tested until "Beast", which is really a full year later. OR should he just sleep with Rosetta Stone playing in his earbuds because there is no way USAFA will allow him to skate and a counselor at USAFA (if he is honored enough to attend) will snatch him and put him in a Mandarin class?
    Or should he just "embrace the suck" and pick up a year of Russian for Senior year?
     
  17. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    He will be tested at BCT.

    If he WANTS to study Russian for a year, or Mandarin, or Swahili, go for it.

    Is he trying to get out of studying a language? Because I think the general rule has been that if one is proficient in two languages, there is no reason why he can't be proficient in three. And what you may be considering "proficient" may not be USAFA's definition at all.
     
  18. Daughnworks

    Daughnworks Member

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    Totally agree with you that USAFA definition of proficient may vary because someone's LIFE may depend on it! I think he's trying to get out of it which, I can't imagine, would be allowed. On the other hand, I do understand skill in any language dissipates without usage. I think several of these kids on the same track with the NSA program are becoming frustrated as realization dawns all the time put in during long summer intensives may be all for naught or they might not get as much credit as originally anticipated. Of course, it probably never occurs to a 17 year old that they need to retain the skill. They were under the impression they would be done by end of this summer. Now, I believe many of them would have made alternate summer plans. I would advise other parents to NOT do the NSA programs and have your kid spend valuable summer time on another pursuit.
    Thank you to "fencer mom", I've read many of your posts and they are most helpful.
     
  19. rkv

    rkv Member

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    Related to this thread, I have a few questions.

    (1) Does the USAFA recognize the need to keep language skills alive? So if you test out of required courses in a language can you still take something like one upper level course a year in that language to maintain ones proficiency?

    He is hoping to major in an engineering discipline but minor in Russian. However, he would like to do a semester abroad. Given what we have gleaned France might be his preference for CSEAP or CSSAP.

    (2) Could one qualify for CSEAP or CSSAP in France if you were not majoring or minoring in French?

    (3) Are there any negatives from the standpoint of ones participation in the Cadet wing to participating in CSEAP or CSSAP?
     
  20. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    I can answer #1 - My DD placed out of all of her Spanish classes in her Freshman year and would have been placed into a class with juniors and seniors. They don't allow that & replaced foreign language with other core classes. She's now taking advanced Spanish classes (only needs 4 to minor) and applied for study abroad.
     
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