Defense Language Aptitude Battery
The Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) is a test used by the United States Department of Defense to test an individual's potential for learning a foreign language. It is used to determine who may pursue training as a military linguist. It consists of 126 multiple-choice questions, and the test is scored out of a possible 176 points. The first half of the test is audio, and the second half is written. As of 2009, the test is completely web-based. The test does not attempt to gauge a person's fluency in a given language, but rather to determine their ability to learn a language. To qualify to pursue training in a language, one needs a minimum score of 100. The Marines will waiver it to 90 for Cat I and Cat II languages, and the Navy will waiver it to a 95 for Cat I languages only. The Air Force does not currently offer a waiver. The languages are broken into tiers, based on their difficulty level for a native English speaker, as determined by the Defense Language Institute.
The DLAB is also used for the Australian Defence Force.
- Category I language: 95 or better
- Category II language: 100 or better
- Category III language: 105 or better
- Category IV language: 110 or better
The various categories also determine the course length of the basic course as taught at DLI, if taught at all.
The DLAB is typically administered to new and prospective recruits at the United States Military Entrance Processing Command sometime after the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is taken but before a final job category (NEC, MOS, AFSC) is determined. An individual may usually take the DLAB if they score high enough on the ASVAB for linguist training and are interested in doing so. The DLAB is also administered to ROTC cadets while they are still attending college. It is worth mentioning that DLAB scores are not directly indicative of one's ability to learn a language. While the test may remain an effective method of determining aptitude, one who scores a 130 will not necessarily be any better in the target language than one who scores a 100. Also worth mentioning is that the Army National Guard is able to waive a score of 90 into a Cat. IV language, though as in the example case, the student may struggle to keep up with the curriculum.
Military personnel interested in retraining into a linguist field typically also must pass the DLAB.
In few select cases, the DLAB requirement may be waived if proficiency in a foreign language is already demonstrated via the DLPT.
- ^ Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Catalog
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Catalog, Ch. 2: Academic Information, 26 July 2010, http://www.dliflc.edu/file.ashx?path=archive/documents/DLIFLC_Catalog_2009-2010.pdf, retrieved 2010-08-09 .
Topics in second language acquisition Learners Learner language Linguistic factorsLanguage transfer · Linguistic universals Individual variation Strategies SLA hypotheses In the classroomFocus on form · Input enhancement Aptitude tests
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