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DLAB, DLPT open doors for Airmen

Becky Mays, 28th Force Support Squadron test control officer, assists Airman 1st Class Danielle Gregg, 28th FSS commander support staff apprentice, with taking a Defense Language Aptitude Battery at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 19, 2013. As a way of assessing an Airman’s ability to speak, understand and learn new languages, the Air Force administers the Defense Language Proficiency Test and Defense Language Aptitude Battery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Becky Mays, 28th Force Support Squadron test control officer, assists Airman 1st Class Danielle Gregg, 28th FSS commander support staff apprentice, with taking a Defense Language Aptitude Battery at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 19, 2013. As a way of assessing an Airman’s ability to speak, understand and learn new languages, the Air Force administers the Defense Language Proficiency Test and Defense Language Aptitude Battery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Airmen serving in today's Air Force hale from many walks of life, with this diverse cross section of society often attracting and cultivating individuals who possess foreign language skills.

As a way of assessing an Airman's ability to speak, understand and learn new languages, the Air Force administers the Defense Language Proficiency Test and Defense Language Aptitude Battery.

"The DLAB tests consisting of a mock language designed to measure a person's language-learning potential," said Dawn Hemming-Rich, 28th Force Support Squadron education services officer. "The individual taking the test doesn't have to know any other language prior to taking it."

Hemming-Rich said that in addition to measuring an individual's potential to learn a new language, the DLAB is used to screen and select foreign language trainees and linguists.

"It is an online exam administered in one 90-minute block and consists of a reading and listening portion," Hemming-Rich said.

Becky Mays, 28th FSS test control officer, noted that the difference between the DLAB and DLPT is that the DLPT is designed for individuals who are already fluent in a specific language.

"Depending on how well Airmen test, they can receive a proficiency rating of 0+ 1, 1+, 2, 2+, or 3," Mays said. "For most languages, 3 is the highest rating, but other languages can be rated up to 5 -demonstrating a very keen and technical understanding of a language."

Mays said that there are a number of opportunities and incentives available to Airmen who take these tests including a foreign language proficiency bonus, college credit and special language-designated positions.

Senior Airman Tilli Ghale, 28th Medical Support Squadron Medical Readiness Unit deployment manager, who took the DLPT and is proficient in Hindi, Nepalese and Urdu, said that he receives $1000 every month in foreign language proficiency pay.

"I am very fortunate to receive extra pay for knowing several languages," Ghale added. "My language skills have benefited my family in so many ways. I urge all Airmen, especially those that already know an additional language, to take these tests and see what opportunities arise."

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