Intelligence: February 10, 2005

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American intelligence organizations need more linguists, and it's been  decided that more money will help bring in enough willing and able trainees. Learning a foreign language is not easy, especially for Americans. Learning a language, that is very different from English, like Arabic or Chinese, is especially difficult. The cash incentive to learn comes in the form of an increase in the special pay given to military linguists who have mastered a foreign language that is much in demand. This foreign language proficiency pay will go from $300 a month to $1,000. In addition, payments (amounts not yet determined) will be paid to college students who study certain languages, and agree to work, for at least a few years, for government agencies that need them. In addition, $50 million is being spent to develop more efficient language teaching techniques, and use of some of these to create mini-courses to give troops headed for a foreign battlefield, some minimal foreign language ability. This effort includes the development of software based learning tools, and more of the PDA sized foreign language devices (type in an English phrase, and the PDA speaks it in the foreign language.) These translations devices have become very useful in Iraq and Afghanistan, and new ones, that respond to spoken commands by the user, are in the works. The government wants to encourage the development of this technology. 

Finally, after being reminded of this countless times, the military is getting serious about finding out what foreign languages people in uniform already can speak. Along with that, there will be more efforts to recruit foreign language speakers into the reserves. Along those lines, there is a proposal to allow any foreign language speaker in the United States to register with the government, so they can be called upon quickly to work as a paid translator. 

 


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