Language course.

Grey man

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Earning that green beret isn’t just a gateway to roll in the sand and mud. I thought I’d share with some of you potential commandos something rather niche! Something you may not have ever considered.
7 years ago, almost to the day I completed the 9 month Pashto language course run by the Defence Education Centre in Wiltshire.

When anyone in the Tri-services needs to learn a foreign language they can be loaded onto a course of varying length and difficulty. The longest being 18 months!
I had the pleasure of 9 months and you can’t get away from the amount of work you will have to put in. You have to be dedicated and motivated. Monday to Friday we were in class from 0830-1630 plus 2/3 hours homework for 9 months. There’s no easy option.

We started by learning the general greetings and the sort of vocabulary you’ll need for every day life. This then developed into complex conversational structures. To be successful in the course you must be able to listen to it, read it, write it and say it. So you must approach the language in this four pronged method. You can’t learn a language in isolation. You must learn the culture of those who speak it. Large swathes of the course focused on cultural studies and conversations with native speakers.

Yet again, I’d never of had the opportunity to have such excellent instruction for free had it not been for joining the Corps! There are plenty of doors to knock on once you are in. You can genuinely become obsessed with self improvement once you are in. 8 years on and I am still almost fluent in Pashto. So rest assured- a military career can reward those who are motivated. Go looking for opportunities once your in.
 
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c4libre

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What sort of opportunites are available to you if you learn another language in the corps? Are there any languages in particular you would say are the most important to learn?
 

Johnny_Anonie

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What sort of opportunites are available to you if you learn another language in the corps? Are there any languages in particular you would say are the most important to learn?
Language courses are dependent upon current requirement. Ultimately the needs of the services will always outweigh the individual's preference. Core languages are those for which an operational requirement has been established- you can probably hazard an educated guess at what this may be.


Great post though!
 

Grey man

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What sort of opportunites are available to you if you learn another language in the corps? Are there any languages in particular you would say are the most important to learn?
Language training is tied to role.

The course is academically difficult and - with some lasting as long as 18 months long - very expensive and a considerable time away from your unit. It would be a waste not to restrict places to those who have specific job to go to. Nevertheless- opportunities to do things you’d never expect all exist in the Corps & wider forces!
 
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Grey man

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An interesting point is that any service personnel with existing language capabilities within the Naval Service can get preferential allocation when courses are available. In order to develop the Royal Navy’s ability to support International Defence Engagement Strategy it is essential to capture linguistic ability on recruit application. The information will be used as a baseline to give people opportunity for further training, improve capability managmement and enable competency mapping. So if anyone reading this already has a formal qualification in a foreign language it could lead to you getting a place on a defence language course- which makes you very deployable. Your language skills could be the gateway to an interesting career.
 

Pegasus9

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Good stuff Grey Man. I passed up the same opportunity whilst serving with 9 Parachute Sqn RE, having scored 90% on the MLAT. I had not long got to the unit having spent a year in a classroom doing Phase 3 training and was given the choice of going to Kenya to shoot guns or spend another year in the classroom learning Pashto. Naturally I chose the former.

Looking back I wish someone had given me better advice, it was definitely a missed opportunity, and could have led to a much more interesting and rewarding role on Herrick 13!
 

Grey man

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Good stuff Grey Man. I passed up the same opportunity whilst serving with 9 Parachute Sqn RE, having scored 90% on the MLAT. I had not long got to the unit having spent a year in a classroom doing Phase 3 training and was given the choice of going to Kenya to shoot guns or spend another year in the classroom learning Pashto. Naturally I chose the former.

Looking back I wish someone had given me better advice, it was definitely a missed opportunity, and could have led to a much more interesting and rewarding role on Herrick 13!
Or you could of just ended up landing a role as a CulAd, the dice can fall in many different ways. Being able to communicate effectively out there without the immediate need to rely heavily on a terp was game changing though. If it was meant to be you would of been on the course. The battlegroup deploying identifies the deploying units educational requirements- from pongo RLC to SF and everyone in between (including language and cultural awareness) and co-ordinate accordingly. Much of the time the need for a competent linguist is a case of voluntold and not volunteer! :D
This is to be no later than 12 months prior to deployment. A decent language qual can help with retention, especially up to SNCO level. But horses for courses. Where were you on H13? I was on H14 in NES (S).
 

Chelonian

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Much of the time the need for a competent linguist is a case of voluntold and not volunteer! :D
Anecdotally, all three services supposedly were frantically scratching about for personnel with Spanish language skills in the build up to Op Corporate in 1982.

Just speculation on my part but might RMR Trained Ranks discover themselves more likely to be mobilised if they possess language skills which are urgently required?
 

Rover

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Interestingly learnt Spanish and Arabic:cool: whilst in service having done both French and German at college,:confused: also throw in a Dutch language course.-banghead- On top of this mix in smatterings of Russian, Malay , Lingala and add various bits from various travels! -doctor--doctor--doctor-

At times I do not even understand myself!!-nailbiting--nailbiting-:(:(o_O
 

Decapitari_G

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An interesting point is that any service personnel with existing language capabilities within the Naval Service can get preferential allocation when courses are available. In order to develop the Royal Navy’s ability to support International Defence Engagement Strategy it is essential to capture linguistic ability on recruit application. The information will be used as a baseline to give people opportunity for further training, improve capability managmement and enable competency mapping. So if anyone reading this already has a formal qualification in a foreign language it could lead to you getting a place on a defence language course- which makes you very deployable. Your language skills could be the gateway to an interesting career.
By formal qualifications, would GCSEs count or are there select bodies that the Navy chooses?
 

Grey man

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The British have never revelled in language skills, Britain lacks the home grown linguists which most countries have. So this is definitely a topic worth pushing into people’s consciousness, particularly potential recruits.
All naval service personnel are to declare the civilian language skills they possess now. An audit is carried out to capture these skills. So GCSE’s definitely are included.
There is also talk of a fairly modest financial incentive to encourage regular NCOs of any service to acquire a language of current ongoing operations, and, of course, the hope is that a certain proportion of service people will turn out to be gifted in languages.

Obviously there is a hierarchy of language skills. They range from level 2 right up to 7.


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In summary- if you have any foreign language skills, make sure you include them in applications. It doesn’t matter if you sit within the level 2 or the level
7 bracket. Likewise if you are school and reading this, keep up your language education, you never know where it might lead.
 
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Decapitari_G

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So I am a native Italian speaker and also have a GCSE to prove this :D Throughout my application never was I asked and even when I got to CTC a few years back they didn't care nor ask either about my Italian language ability.
That said, this time around is this something I should tell them at PRMC or CTC? Also, would this skill be taken into account if let's say I was looking for a role in combat intel?
 

Grey man

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Once serving you can update this on JPA. You would of included it on application under the qualification section? If not- update your JPA as soon as, this is how the audit picks up the data.
 

Chelonian

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The British have never revelled in language skills, Britain lacks the home grown linguists which most countries have.
As an aside, in the earliest days of British troops in NI in 1969 an unruly public gathering was apparently confronted at a Belfast street junction by an Army platoon. The crowd was verbally warned that the gathering was unlawful and that they must immediately disperse.
To emphasise this a very large banner of the printed order was deployed, much to the crowd's bemusement. The only available banner was old stock from Aden and the order was printed in Yemeni-Arabic script.
 

Caversham

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When I was learning Spanish I upped the anti by asking for a session on swearing, particularly when driving. It has stood me good stead over the years, especially in places like Madrid!

Alan
 

Decapitari_G

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Once serving you can update this on JPA. You would of included it on application under the qualification section? If not- update your JPA as soon as, this is how the audit picks up the data.
Hi I got your message about whether I am serving but can't find it in the alerts but to answer your question, I am not serving. Looking to rejoin and have PRMC in a couple of weeks.
 

flippertyre

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Thank you for the very interesting thread, I wasn't aware of the opportunities to learn a language. Since leaving school I have learned Spanish, which I have been working in, and to a lesser extent, French. I would be very interested in being put through a language course and was wondering how far into one's career in the RM could one expect to be put through a language course. I have sent off my application for RMO for 2021 entry and I am trying to get a better idea of the prospects after RT - Any info would be really appreciated!
 

Advocado

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There isn't a great deal of opportunity to be honest mate. Particularly as an officer.

Back in the HERRICK era lads would often be loaded to the longer Pashto courses as there was an operational requirement for lads on the ground to know the language.

Whilst there are still jobs and taskings available in countries where the native language is Pashto or Arabic, there isn't the appetite to send lads on 18 month language courses for a few months away in the role.

By all means join the corps and take your MLAT test (language aptitude) but I think you'll struggle to get on a long language course at Shrivenham.
 

flippertyre

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Thanks for your reply.
Do you mean that as an officer there isn’t much opportunity to learn a language in general or was your reply specific to learning Pashto? I understand that any language learned would be operation specific, and so, doesn’t give much room for choice, but saying that I would definitely be motivated to learn a language.
 
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