Languages & the Army

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by NewCadetMommy, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. NewCadetMommy

    NewCadetMommy Member

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    Hello All,

    My DD is an incoming freshman and just completed SLI (summer language institute) in Arabic and received a 1 on her OPIc in a critical language, her professor told them to maybe expect a 0 or 0+. She is very happy with her results. My question is on another issue, as a language major she also have to take up a second language. She wants to be a civil affairs officer after she graduates, she had 4 years of Spanish in high school. We were discussing what her options were last night, I hear that is she takes Spanish, which is not a critical language for the Army, she would have to score a 4/4 for it to be recognized (credited, not sure of the correct for the Army). The school also teaches Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, German, French, Italian and Latin. I told her to speak to her ROO when school starts but I was wondering if anyone her has any knowledge of this subject area or is a former civilian affairs person. Her chief concern is she's not sure if the wants to study another language that is far removed from English, Arabic is called a Type 4 language ( the most unlike English) and requires a lot of time.

    Thanks in Advance.
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    No knowledge of civil affairs and not an expert on what's critical to Army. I don't think German or the Romance languages will be of much use to Army... dime a dozen, so to speak. Not to say they won't be of some use, but not critical. Latin is of use in it's own right (IMO), but not to the Army. Of the remaining languages, only Russian is an Indo-European that will have similarity to English. It's actually a phonetic language, and once you learn the alphabet and the pronunciation of the letters, you will actually see there are quite a few words that are closely related to English. Some knowledge of the Greek alphabet can be helpful in this endeavor.
     
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  3. madhttr

    madhttr AROTC Dad

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    DD has taken a year of Chinese in which she did well but found it incredibly difficult (memorization of characters/words completely unlike any Western language, words that can have different meanings depending on difficult pronunciations, etc.). She did an SLI in Russian, which made a lot of sense to her once she learned the alphabet. Just my opinion as a civilian, but seems like Chinese and Russian, along with Arabic are going to be in great demand one way or another for some time to come.
     
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  4. davejean90

    davejean90 Member

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    Take whatever language she wants. New Army LTs do not branch directly into Civil Affairs. Most Civil Affairs officers are reservists who have served in another branch while on active duty. There are a small number of active Civil Affairs officers, but they too are mostly Captain and above and have served up to 8 years in another branch. Point is that the language she takes will have little impact on what she does immediately after graduation. Also Civil Affairs officers can serve in any part of the world and will travel with interpreters, so knowing one or two specific languages may not be an asset. Now another functional area she may want to consider is Foreign Area Officer (FOA). These officers work in embassy's around the world and language skills are required. A few things about being a FOA. First of all you have to serve in your basic branch first which means you wouldn't transfer to a FAO until about 8 years into your career. Second, although previous language training is a plus, the Army will still send you to the language school to match you FAO specialty. So in summary, don't worry about what you think the Army may want. Just take what you want and need in order to graduate with good grades.
     
  5. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

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    ^This--especially the last sentence.

    There is no bigger advocate of foreign language learning than me. It is part of the whole person development, like sports, that in most cases doesn't have an immediate payoff other than it feels good. Also, like sports, it probably won't get you a job by itself. Remember, this is an immigrant nation. There are native speakers of every language on the planet right here in the US already--many of them eager to serve in the military.

    My DS commissioned in May 2015. Branched Signal (Communications). Active Duty Sept 2015. Duty Stationed in ME in Feb 2016 for 15 mos. Deployed again a few days ago.

    This is his language/college major/Army odyssey:

    -Completed HS German 4 as a Freshman. Was tutored by a family friend.
    -Rotary Exchange in Brazil Junior year. No previous Portuguese. Host family and school spoke no English
    -AP Spanish as a senior. No previous Spanish.
    -Rotary Exchange gap year in Taiwan. No previous Chinese. Host family and school spoke no English.
    -Goes to College. Majors in Chem E. Has open spot on schedule and takes one semester of Italian, because it sounds nice and he knows that he won't have to crack a book.
    -Does Project Go after Freshman year studying Russian in Kiev.
    -Changes major to Chemistry, because Chem E is too tedious and he has no electives. He wants more CS classes.
    -Senior year takes two semesters of Arabic.
    -Maintained a good GPA throughout.
    -Today he is a self-described Verizon guy for the Army.

    What he would tell you from his experience is that the Big Army really didn't care about any of that other than the GPA and recommendations from Cadre and PMS. When he showed up at Signal BOLC no one cared. When he showed up at his first duty station no one cared. He never missed a chance to speak Arabic with the kebab guy down at the souk or try to read the script on the walls of the Grand Mosque, but he was paid to be a Signal Officer--make sure the phones and computers work.

    There is no doubt that his transfer by request and current deployment took his language skills into account, but first and foremost they needed a Signal Officer.

    Congratulations and best of luck to your DD.
     
  6. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    My older son commissioned into Aviation in 2012, after he completed flight school and arrived at his first unit in Hawaii the Army announced they were divesting his airframe. He looked into Civil Affairs.

    While a poster above is correct, one does not commission directly into Civil Affairs, the Time in Service is a bit off. Once the officer is 1LT promotable they can make their application for CA, they have a short window to do this, once they reach Captain the window is starting to close for them. As part of their application they will take the DLAB which will determine what language groups they can study.

    My son was accepted and scheduled the trip to Ft. Bragg for the Selection Course, about 9 out of the 20 in the class were accepted, it is competitive. Once they are selected they go to the SOF Captain's Career Course (Also very hard, there are always those that don't make it through) After the CCC they list the top three languages they would like to study, it is not a guarantee they will get one of the 3 they list.

    Son is now in the Language portion of the CA course. He had listed Russian as his top choice, he was given French. I know French is one of those Romance languages that Kinnem spoke of but it is considered important in SOF because it is widely used in Africa where there is a large CA presence. As it turned out another officer who received Russian had taken French all through high school and four years of college, her and my son asked to switch and the request was granted. They do try and pair a person to a language that they have experience in if possible so since your daughter has scored well in Arabic there is a good chance she could receive that language for the course.

    As a side note, son was selected for the Immersion program for Russian, he leaves for Latvia the beginning of September and will spend 6 weeks living with a Russian family and taking language classes during the week, no English, just Russian. He is excited and it should be a big boost to his Russian language skills.

    It does not matter what your daughter branches when she commissions, she can apply to CA from any branch. Once she is about to become 1LT promotable she can start talking to the CA people about going through the application process which will include a physical, DLAB, and security clearance.

    As far as a second language it's really up to her what she takes, but French is not a bad choice since the Arabic is such a hard language, adding something like Chinese or Korean would really be tough.

    One other thing, the Active Duty CA has grown over the last few years and they are continuing to take applicants for selection. My son is Active Duty CA.

    If you have any other questions send me a message and I'll answer what I can.
     
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  7. NewCadetMommy

    NewCadetMommy Member

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    Thanks everyone I passed the information on to my DD for her consideration.
     
  8. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    Do not underestimate the usefulness of Spanish in the military from a very practical side of things. Son had a lot of Spanish in high school and ended up with a minor in Spanish in college. Now having been on AD for 6 years he has found it very useful in daily dealings with his squadron's enlisted airmen and other officers. It is also useful in daily life since many of the places that he has been stationed have a large Hispanic population and Spanish is very prevalent.

    Stealth_81
     
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  9. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    To digress for a brief moment please, cb7893. So, was your son in AROTC in college, and if so, was he on scholarship? If so, was it difficult for him to get the Army's blessing to change his major from Chem E to Chemistry? Just curious, thanks for any response. My DS is starting AROTC as a freshman at VT in the Corps of Cadets in a couple of weeks as a General Engineering major. He was awarded a 4 year AROTC scholarship for Electrical Engineering. He cannot choose his major as EE until the end of his freshman year, and per the VT Engineering program department's rules is only guaranteed his first choice of major if he earns a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better his freshman year. Thank you again for any information you can provide.
     
  10. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

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    Yes. DS received a 4yr scholarship with a declared Chem E major. As I recall, he had some trepidation when requesting the change of majors because he was stepping down one tier and the change needed to be approved at a level higher above his PMS. He was also acutely aware that what may have been allowed one year, may not be allowed the next. There was a definite element of uncertainty which I'm sure still exists today. As a general rule, any Engineering major is Tier 1 and if the "E" is dropped, then so drops the Tier.

    In his particular case, he was maintaining a high GPA with an engineering course load and he had a high AFPT score. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it was a brilliant move by the Army. He replaced Chem E specific requirements of questionable utility to the Army, with coursework--CS and Arabic--which are directly applicable to what he is doing at this very moment.

    I can't stress enough that these Cadets/Mids need to be honest with themselves about what they love and what they are capable of. The GPA is the most important element of the OML regardless of major. It's hard to do well in courses one doesn't love.

    This is a topic that frequently comes up around finals time at the end of the first semester. You might try searching for threads dealing with the issue more recently.

    Congratulations and best of luck to DS! You can't imagine how proud you'll be of the finished product.
     
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