How to Maintain Your Language Skills and Keep Your Clearance

Career Advice

Whether you are a linguist, a language-enabled analyst, or just someone with a clearance who wants to expand their language skills, there are many ways to maintain your language ability without having to explain numerous foreign contacts to your facility security officer.  The resources below are some of the best I have found in my pursuit of language learning over the past 5 years.

  • The Defense Language Institute’s Global Language Online Support System
    • This DLI resource is completely open to the public.  Level 0+ to Level 4+ in hundreds of languages.  Practice tests, cultural resources and much more.
  • Joint Language University
    • Open to all federal and Department of Defense employees, JLU also has some guest access.  It’s a great resource with a wide range of reading, listening and cultural resources.
  • Transparent Language
    • Transparent Language, a paid online language tool, offers a completely free service and online platform for language learning exclusively for military and federal employees.
  • Memrise
    • Memrise is a great flashcard app which has pre-loaded flashcard sets for hundreds of languages and levels.  It is a great resource because you don’t have to do the leg work of creating flashcard sets.  Some sets even have native speakers saying the words.
  • YouTube
    • Not just for viral videos, YouTube offers an unlimited amount of resources, podcasts, cultural videos and native language video resources. Just make sure the videos have quite a few views, and stay with major outlets.
  • News Apps
    • News apps on your phone like BBC Farsi or Arabic for example, are great ways to read the news and stay on top of international events in a foreign language.  Be sure to stay with mainstream news sources. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of being on propaganda and foreign IP addresses that do not get much traffic.
  • Amazon/Netflix
    • Amazon has a ton of great, inexpensive CDs, videos and other resources.  Also, Amazon Video and Netflix have a wide range of resources and programs in foreign languages. 
  • Foreigncy.us
    • Foreigncy serves intermediate-to-advanced language learners. It focuses on the practical aspects of language learning that are in demand by employers, preparing you to use your language skills in a professional setting. One of the benefits is Foreigncy is you don’t just get the opportunity to practice your proficiency, you also expand your cultural awareness.
  • AceMyLanguage
    • One of the best ways to up your Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) score.  The site includes hundreds of pages of reading and listening passages and questions, with corresponding audio files on a CD companion.  

Garrett is Persian Farsi Analyst for CACI in the DC Metro area. He runs two mentorship websites to help military members in the intel and language career fields.

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