Foreign Language

Bobcat

New Member
Is there any advantage with admissions/WCS for more modern foreign language than the 2 years recommended when applying? For example, 2 years of Mandarin in middle school plus 4 years in high school, including AP Mandarin senior year? Also, would attending an almost month long language immersion program in China add anything to WCS?
 

candor

Member
I don't think it adds anything to WCS. A lot of people will probably tell you to take STEM classes instead (to prepare you for the rigor at the Academy), but I read on USAFA's website today that they still do look favorably on students who show the potential/ability to speak other modern languages fluently. Moreover, this may set you apart from other candidates in the sense that you have diversified yourself and immersed yourself in other cultures. Hope this helps.
 

5Day

Member
Although taking that much Manderin my not increase your WCS, it could be a differentiator that sets you apart from the other applicants. If somehow you can roll your fluency in Mandarin into your essay and it makes you stand out, it will definitely help.
 

5Day

Member
What if you spoke 4 different languages, will that mean anything at all?
Sure it can. But what do you do with that skill, how are you going to convey that information to the SA? If you can show how you have used that skill and/or how that will make you a superb officer in you essay or other part of the essay, that is what will make the real difference
 

Vitalzt

Member
On the application there was a language section that I explained everything in there, though it did not require me to explain how beneficial it will be for me to have those skills as an officer. I think what I can do with my skills should be determined by them, if it will be useful useful and it also depends on their needs.

Languages: Swahili, French, Arabic, and I will say i'm proficient in Russian and dutch not advanced. I have picked up other languages not internationally known.
 

ktnatalk

Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.
Languages: Swahili, French, Arabic, and I will say i'm proficient in Russian and dutch not advanced. I have picked up other languages not internationally known.
Pretty impressive! How good are you with these languages? They have real applications in the military today and my guess is you got some points in your application for them as well!
 

Vitalzt

Member
I am pretty good with the three and the dialects I know, but I struggle with Russian and Dutch because I don't have people to practice with. The only thing I use them for is to watch movies and TV shows. Many of this languages I didn't learn them school, I learned them from interacting with people, watching movies, shows, then I went on to books.
 
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wildblueyonder

USAFA '19
Is there any advantage with admissions/WCS for more modern foreign language than the 2 years recommended when applying? For example, 2 years of Mandarin in middle school plus 4 years in high school, including AP Mandarin senior year? Also, would attending an almost month long language immersion program in China add anything to WCS?
I don't know what USAFA's protocol is regarding foreign languages and the WCS, but I can promise you it definitely won't hurt and could even help a lot depending on the USAF's current language needs. The immersion program is an awesome opportunity, too, and I would 100% take advantage of it.

My situation was very similar to yours. I took four years of Mandarin in high school, and participated in three 2-3 week immersion programs (student instructor at one). I also joined a nonprofit Chinese tutoring organization in my senior year of HS. How much the language itself contributed to my application, I will never know for sure. However, I am very confident that the leadership opportunities I gained through the language contributed significantly.

Additionally, this type of prior language experience makes obtaining a minor much easier, especially if you took the language for all four years of high school. I was able to validate enough Chinese classes upon entering the Academy to allow me to earn my minor by the end of my 4* year. This was a huge benefit for me, as I might have had a difficult time fitting the classes into my schedule otherwise.

I have gotten to do some amazing things with Chinese since coming here, and am blown away by all the benefits it has yielded for my cadet career and officer development. Send me a PM once you get 5 posts if you want to discuss--I really enjoy talking about the language and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about USAFA's Chinese program.

Good luck! :thumb:
 

dervogel

Member
Is there any advantage with admissions/WCS for more modern foreign language than the 2 years recommended when applying? For example, 2 years of Mandarin in middle school plus 4 years in high school, including AP Mandarin senior year? Also, would attending an almost month long language immersion program in China add anything to WCS?
I'm a junior in the almost exact same situation as you. Will have taken 4 years of Mandarin in high school, including AP Mandarin next year. I also went on a month long language immersion trip in China this past summer. As far as adding to your WCS, I don't think it will. However, Chinese could put you at an advantage depending on how you convey it to admissions:

Maybe talk about the struggles of going into a foreign country with a completely different culture and talk about the initial struggles of speaking the language with locals, etc. Then talk about how you overcame the adversity and how the trip made you a better person, leader, etc. Just a thought.

Also, maybe talk about how you see your Chinese being used in the military. Maybe you want to go into intelligence or be a Foreign Area Officer. Being proficient in a language is extremely sought after in these jobs (if I'm not mistaken, I think it's a requirement for FAO's).
 

Jwill35

JWill35
Bobcat great question! I am currently in my 3rd year of Arabic. Ultimately your immersion and proficiency in Mandarin will not be the ticket to give you a winning WPS. I can't say it will get you in, but the Air Force and pretty much every government agency highly values individuals with "strategic" language skills. However, this is just one facet of the whole person. (simple in word, complicated in meaning) The experience is what you make of it. Every candidate has a different story and you can use it to set you apart.
 
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Bobcat

New Member
I don't know what USAFA's protocol is regarding foreign languages and the WCS, but I can promise you it definitely won't hurt and could even help a lot depending on the USAF's current language needs. The immersion program is an awesome opportunity, too, and I would 100% take advantage of it.

My situation was very similar to yours. I took four years of Mandarin in high school, and participated in three 2-3 week immersion programs (student instructor at one). I also joined a nonprofit Chinese tutoring organization in my senior year of HS. How much the language itself contributed to my application, I will never know for sure. However, I am very confident that the leadership opportunities I gained through the language contributed significantly.

Additionally, this type of prior language experience makes obtaining a minor much easier, especially if you took the language for all four years of high school. I was able to validate enough Chinese classes upon entering the Academy to allow me to earn my minor by the end of my 4* year. This was a huge benefit for me, as I might have had a difficult time fitting the classes into my schedule otherwise.

I have gotten to do some amazing things with Chinese since coming here, and am blown away by all the benefits it has yielded for my cadet career and officer development. Send me a PM once you get 5 posts if you want to discuss--I really enjoy talking about the language and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about USAFA's Chinese program.

Good luck! :thumb:
Thank you WildBlueYonder! Your response was very informative and encouraging! I will have my DS PM you. These forums are an amazing resource for candidates and parents. Thanks for continuing to contribute to them even after you were admitted!
 

NAAF

Member
Bobcat great question! I am currently in my 3rd year of Arabic. Ultimately your immersion and proficiency in Mandarin will not be the ticket to give you a winning WPS. I can't say it will get you in, but the Air Force and pretty much every government agency highly values individuals with "strategic" language skills. However, this is just one facet of the whole person. (simple in word, complicated in meaning) The experience is what you make of it. Every candidate has a different story and you can use it to set you apart.
Which languages are considered " strategic"? Thanks.
 

Tx2AFA

USAFA '23
These are the critical languages as cited by the U.S. DoS/DoD and I imagine speaking any one of them fluently would have a more profound impact on an application than a more common second language (Spanish, French, German, etc.):

Albanian, African Languages (all), Akan/Twi, Amharic, Arabic (all dialects), Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bahasa, Bambara, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian
Bulgarian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Gan, Georgian, Haitian, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Javanese, Kanarese Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Lingala, Macedonian, Malay, Malayalam, Mandarin, Moldovan, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telegu, Thai, Turkmen, Turkish, Uighur, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu.
 
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