There are a lot of different opportunities for translators in the United States Military. If you are a native speaker of a language other than English, then you are already largely trained to become a translator for the United States Military. You are given an opportunity to show what you are able to do, and if you need some additional work to qualify then you are given more assistance, otherwise, if you are an expert in a language other than English you can within a short amount of time be out in the field working with units on the front lines as an Interpreter.
The facility that provides additional training and also evaluates if a person is able to meet the military standard as a translator is the Defense Language Institute in California. They train students for many different languages in the world; they train not only military speakers, but also civilian, federal agency, and other specialized language speaking training needs. Some of the speakers trained at the Defense Language Institute work with our allies as liaison type officers. One of the most difficult languages to study is Arabic, and with the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq that is the language next to Persian that is sought most by the Military. It takes an extremely top student to study Arabic, it is literally nearly a year and a quarter program, the Arabic program takes 63 weeks to complete, and many students drop out it is so intense.
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But those that stick with it can do very well in the military, as they are highly prized military assets to assist our military properly and accurately communicate with the people which we serve. The Defense Language Institute is a conversational school, it teaches students by immersion they learn and converse in the language at all times while at the school. Hours are long and instruction is intense but the school has a high rate of success in their graduates. Arabic is not the only language taught there, but it is considered the hardest, it is a category six language.
There are easier, more elemental languages that are taught there. Students study intensely, and because they set high standards, one in three who study the category six languages wash out, and do not make it. Because of this about thirty percent are dis- enrolled and return to other duties.