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Easiest Critical Languages to Learn
#11
In my undergrad days I took a year of Italian.  I chose it simply because I like the sound of the language, the cadence, etc.  The course was specifically designed for written translation, being able to read Italian and translate it to English.  I got quite good at it then.  I could read an Italian newspaper with little difficulty and could, with some assistance, translate professional journal articles.  But I couldn't really have a conversation in Italian and I wasn't expected to in the course.  So I think there are different levels of fluency and different types of fluency as well.
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#12
(10-15-2021, 08:23 AM)sanantone Wrote: Some people have a tendency to overcomplicate things. This thread is about learning critical languages aka languages that are needed by the federal government and its contractors. Knowing how to ask where the beach is will not be enough for working proficiency. If you're interested in exploring Egypt without an interpreter, then this thread is not for you. Please stop throwing it off topic.

Honestly, I think it's a bit "dangerous" and unhelpful to publish these kinds of lists. It gives the impression that you can put in a couple of years of halfhearted study into Romanian or Czech or whatever and get a job with the government. That's not happening. Learning a language is HARD and, even with extensive study, you may not reach any reasonable level of fluency in less than a decade. 

The DLI numbers (and others) are heavily skewed by selection bias. The people going through the program have already been chosen on the basis of their personal aptitude. They'll do better than the average person simply because of that. Then, when people NOT going through DLI don't reach any measurable degree of fluency in Spanish even after 200 hours of study, they'll be disappointed and quit. But maybe they'd have gotten there after 300 or 400 hours. 

Anyone CAN learn a language. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same speed. Please don't pick your career path based on learning a specific language in a specific timeframe.
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#13
(10-16-2021, 02:07 AM)rachel83az Wrote:
(10-15-2021, 08:23 AM)sanantone Wrote: Some people have a tendency to overcomplicate things. This thread is about learning critical languages aka languages that are needed by the federal government and its contractors. Knowing how to ask where the beach is will not be enough for working proficiency. If you're interested in exploring Egypt without an interpreter, then this thread is not for you. Please stop throwing it off topic.

Honestly, I think it's a bit "dangerous" and unhelpful to publish these kinds of lists. It gives the impression that you can put in a couple of years of halfhearted study into Romanian or Czech or whatever and get a job with the government. That's not happening. Learning a language is HARD and, even with extensive study, you may not reach any reasonable level of fluency in less than a decade. 

The DLI numbers (and others) are heavily skewed by selection bias. The people going through the program have already been chosen on the basis of their personal aptitude. They'll do better than the average person simply because of that. Then, when people NOT going through DLI don't reach any measurable degree of fluency in Spanish even after 200 hours of study, they'll be disappointed and quit. But maybe they'd have gotten there after 300 or 400 hours. 

Anyone CAN learn a language. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same speed. Please don't pick your career path based on learning a specific language in a specific timeframe.
This is just anecdotal, but I wouldn't over inflate selection bias for the Foreign Service Institute figures. My parents were both in the Foreign Service and neither of them were particularly good at learning new languages. They both studied French prior to entering the Foreign Service, but neither of them used French while working there. My mom learned Spanish for the Foreign Service but failed her exam and had to repeat it before going on assignment to a Spanish-speaking country. My dad also did Spanish but struggled with it. Both of them studied Korean and passed, but they didn't learn fast and they weren't particularly good at it. Interestingly, my dad's strongest language was Japanese. But I don't think there is any way he or the Foreign Service would have known he had an aptitude for it until he started studying it.

In the foreign service, officers get assigned to new countries so frequently that having an aptitude in a particular language or language group provides minimal benefits. If they do come in with a particular aptitude, it's flexibility and a willingness to learn, which I think a lot of people on this forum have already.
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#14
(10-16-2021, 02:07 AM)rachel83az Wrote:
(10-15-2021, 08:23 AM)sanantone Wrote: Some people have a tendency to overcomplicate things. This thread is about learning critical languages aka languages that are needed by the federal government and its contractors. Knowing how to ask where the beach is will not be enough for working proficiency. If you're interested in exploring Egypt without an interpreter, then this thread is not for you. Please stop throwing it off topic.

Honestly, I think it's a bit "dangerous" and unhelpful to publish these kinds of lists. It gives the impression that you can put in a couple of years of halfhearted study into Romanian or Czech or whatever and get a job with the government. That's not happening. Learning a language is HARD and, even with extensive study, you may not reach any reasonable level of fluency in less than a decade. 

The DLI numbers (and others) are heavily skewed by selection bias. The people going through the program have already been chosen on the basis of their personal aptitude. They'll do better than the average person simply because of that. Then, when people NOT going through DLI don't reach any measurable degree of fluency in Spanish even after 200 hours of study, they'll be disappointed and quit. But maybe they'd have gotten there after 300 or 400 hours. 

Anyone CAN learn a language. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same speed. Please don't pick your career path based on learning a specific language in a specific timeframe.

I provided the link to the State Department webpage so people could read it. I suggest reading it fully before commenting. 

If you're going to apply for a Foreign Service Officer job, you're going to have to take an aptitude test whether your target position requires a foreign language or not. Knowing a foreign language just increases one's chances of being selected. The same applies to the FBI. A foreign language is not required to become a special agent with the FBI, but it increases one's chances of getting hired. You need to pass an aptitude test regardless. So, if your verbal intelligence is low, you're likely not going to pass the pre-employment assessments. Therefore, this thread is not relevant to you. When I say "you," I'm using it in a general sense.

Even though you are not required to know a foreign language to become an officer, proficiency in one or more languages will enhance your competitiveness for selection.

https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-s...-look-for/
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