Being a linguist in the Army is tough. Many of the commands do not take being a linguist seriously. I had one First Sergeant in one of my companies actually tell me that if Soldiers were not a linguist of a country where we were currently engaged in combat, they were not allowed to "waste" time during the day on language maintenance. Well, I'm here to tell you that is complete and utter CRAP. So I created this blog to help linguists "stick together" and pool our resources. Here are some resources I've used to maintain proficiency in my target language.
If you have questions, please feel free to visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
My number one go to resource is my iPhone/iPod Touch. It's always with me so it's a giant virtual stack of notecards. The app that I use to to create my flash cards is called Flashcards Deluxe. It sells for $3.99 on the App Store (you can find it here), which is cheap considering a box of notecards is about that much money. If your language requires a different keyboard layout, you can go into Settings > General > International > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard... to install your language.
Currently the iPhone supports the following languages: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukranian, Vietnamese. For Middle Eastern languages install the Arabic keyboard and long press the letters for variations.
Once your keyboard is installed you will now see a little globe-like icon to the left of your spacebar. Hitting that will swap back and forth between your default language and whatever you've installed. The great thing about the iPhone is native support for Middle Eastern languages. Android devices still do not have this feature, or the ability to type from right to left.
I highly suggest setting your Flashcard Apps to the Leitner Method if supported. Click here for more info about the Leitner Method.
If you're old-school or don't have access to an iPhone and want to stick with notecards, you can go the route of cutting up 3x5 cards, or you could buy these notecards by the box. You will see at the Defense Language Institute there are a set of cards that are the staple for students. They come in a yellow/white/black box and come with like 500 or 1000 at a time. I can't find a link for them online so if you have them or know who makes them please comment so I can add the link.
The average linguist needs to know approximately at least 2000 words with no hesitation to be a fluent linguist. So you can imagine how boxes of notecards can build up quite rapidly.
Defense Connect Online is similar to SOFTS but is ran by DLI and is for your every day linguist. They offer a higher range of classes, even classes designed to bring level 3/3 linguists to higher like 3+/3+. DCO can be found at https://www.dco.dod.mil/public/dsp/dco_login.cfm?banner=true
You need to have a computer that can run a webcam and has a decent internet connection, as the classes are virtual classrooms with actual instructors.
Please send me an email using the submit a comment link at the top of the page on the navigation bar from your AKO email and I will send you the contact information for DCO. She can tell you what classes are being offered and how to enroll.
UPDATE: Sadly, Word Champ has been taken offline and no longer fully works. This used to be my go-to language resource. First they upped it from being free to $25 a year, which was still a steal, and then they shut it down altogether. I'm guessing that they couldn't afford to keep it running.
This website is freaking amazing. Registration is free. Once you log in to the website and create your profile, you can choose "Web Reader" from the drop down menu. It will ask you what language and where you want to navigate to. Think of it as something similar to Google Translate. Instead of putting in paragraphs or pages of words and translating, however, when you hover over a word you don't know a popup shows with the definition (if it's available) and an audio clip of how to say the word (if available). You can also add words to flashcards and study the flashcards directly from your profile.
So for example what I do is log in, then go to Web Reader (you can also download the toolbar). Then I put in http://www.bbc.com/persian (the Iranian version of BBC) and it takes me to the main news page. Any time I don't know a word I can hover over it and it's like instantly looking the word up in the dictionary.
Word Champ can be found at http://www.wordchamp.com
The Defense Language Institute
DLI-FLC maintains a language resources page here: http://www.dliflc.edu/products.html
One particular page that I would like to point out there is called GLOSS. It's designed to help you prepare for the DLPT, and you can search for articles based on the proficiency level and type. GLOSS can be found here: http://gloss.dliflc.edu/
UPDATE: I've created a blog that has all of the reading articles from GLOSS posted for everyone in Persian-Farsi (for use with Word Champ):
The Special Operations Forces Teletraining System is a system designed to brush Special Forces units up on their language abilities via computer/webcam. The great thing about it is that SOF units don't always fill the slots, and if they have extra slots after registration you can get in. The bad part is many of their classes are for lower level students, like 0+/1/1+.
SOFTS can be found at: https://www.softsonline.org/
I have been to language refresher courses (they are usually 5 weeks long) at Ft. Meade, MD, Ft. Gordon, GA, and PLTCE in Garmisch, Germany. I will tell you that this is the best language training I've ever been to, and .... it's the CHEAPEST language training to go to for your unit's budget. The reason being is, the other language centers you have to stay in hotels, have rental cars, get meal money, etc. A language refresher trip can cost your unit upwards of 15-20 thousand dollars depending on the time of year per person. But PLTCE you stay in a barracks and eat in the chow hall and aren't authorized a rental car. Your unit only has to pay them $2500 (last I checked) plus airfare and minimal other expenses. It's by far the cheapest option. Many people don't know about this gem of a language center. The best part is, when you're not learning a language it's a perfect opportunity to tour Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Venice, you name it!
It's also known as the Marshall Center, and it's webpage can be found here: http://www.marshallcenter.org/mcpublicweb/
The only draw backs are, it doesn't offer EVERY language. Last I checked it offers Persian-Farsi, Dari, Pashtu, Russian, French, and some very odd rare languages. In addition, because of the relatively cheap cost, the gorgeous location, and everyone wanting to go there, you need to book far in advance.
Transparent Language - Rapid Rote
According to one blog contributor, the Defense Language Institute gives Rapid Rote for free to students, but in the event that you didn't get it, you can pay for it from the above website address. If anyone else has used it, please comment on exactly what it is all about and how it has helped you in the past.
I will continually update this page, but these are the main resources that I use.
Main Page | About This Page | Regulatory Guidance | Language Maintenance Resources | Major Changes Coming Eff. Feb 14! | History of Linguists | Becoming an Army Linguist | Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus | Re-classifying into 35P via DA 4187 | 35P MOS Requirements| Re-certification of DLPT While Deployed | Failing Your DLPT| Language Difficulty Categories / Minimum DLAB Scores | Foreign Language Codes | Acronyms | In Memory of Fallen Linguists | Ask a Question / Provide Site Feedback