Foreign language proficiency earns Airmen more money, free college credit

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alessandra N. Hurley
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airmen who know one or more foreign languages can apply for a pay raise of up to $ 1,000 a month, and can also earn free college credit.

As sited from Air Force Instruction 36-2605, Airmen who know a foreign language are entitled to a Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus in accordance with Department of Defense Instruction 7280.03.

"Here at Ellsworth there are about 27 Airmen enrolled in the FLPB program - with one Airman getting paid for two languages," said Becky L. Mays, 28th Force Support Squadron test control officer.

Ellsworth Airmen are getting paid a total of $8,700 per month for FLPB.

"We had a member stationed here, an Airman, who was getting the extra $1000- he spoke four different languages, including English," said Mrs. Mays.

Testing consists of taking the on-line test and an Oral Proficiency Interview, where the Airman speaks to someone on the phone using the foreign language.

Most of the languages are paid on a sliding scale depending on the proficiency level of the Airman, but some languages, such as Italian, will only be paid once the highest proficiency rating is earned.

To find out about the eligibility for FLPB, visit the Base Education Center, located in the Rushmore Center, and speak with Mrs. Mays.

Another added bonus which comes from knowing one or more foreign languages is the opportunity to earn college credit.

"There are quite a few languages that can qualify an Airman for college credit once the test is complete," said Mrs. Mays. "They are humanities credits and can be equivalent to as much as 15 credit hours."

For Airmen who don't know a foreign language or would like to brush up on their skills before the exam, there is another benefit offered to them.

There are language learning programs for home use, free for active duty Airmen and DoD civilian employees and available to dependents for a price, that Airmen can learn about at their base library.

"It only takes a few minutes to come into the library and fill out the registration for the language program," said Wanda Greene, 28th FSS Holbrook Library technician. "Then you can access it from the privacy of your personal computer at home."

Each base is only authorized a certain number of available accounts.

"You must log into the account at least once every two weeks or the account will be deactivated to make room for others who may be on a waiting list to access the site," said Ms. Greene.

Airmen can use the program while deployed but once they make a PCS to a new base, they will need to re-register at their next base.

"Once Airmen register at their base, they can log on from any computer," said Ms. Greene. "There is no software needed to load it up. All you have to do is go home after you come in to register and log on. There is a wide selection of languages to choose from- including Hebrew, Farsi, Mandarin and Dutch; along with Spanish, German, Italian and French."

Language-learning software is one example of the benefits waiting at a military member's fingertips.

"It's free, so take advantage of it," said Ms. Greene. "And with the wide range of languages available to select from, there is sure to be a language of interest for everyone."