If you are reading this, then you’re probably getting ready to enroll in the Defense Language Institute (DLI). DLI is one of the toughest programs in the military. It will take a normal student and get them to be proficient in a foreign language in no time. You can probably imagine the amount of difficulty that exists in this program. So how do you prepare for such a school and pass the dreaded Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT)?
For starters, forget about your Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) test score. While your DLAB score was used to give the military an idea as to your probability of success in the DLI program, it does not guarantee anything. Many active duty member with high DLAB scores have failed and vice-versa.
To further this, make sure you leave your pride behind. There is no room for arrogance in the classroom. You must be humble and understand that regardless of your educational background, anyone can pass or fail DLI. If you go into this program with an eagerness to learn and no fear of making a mistake, you will be setup for success.
Some people would recommend that you start learning the language before you show up to DLI. However, this is a waste of time. Because DLI is an intense program, regardless of how much time you spend studying the language beforehand, your class will quickly catch up. While studying the language early might not help, you can start to prepare your mind for your potential language. When you first hear someone speak a different language, it only appears to be a jumble of sounds. You will typically have a hard time making a distinction between individual words. However if you spend enough time listening to the language, you will find that you can start to make out individual words and the language doesn’t sound so foreign. Gaining a familiarity to the language before you show up is possibly the most important thing you can do in preparation for DLI. You can do this by listening to music, or watching a movie.
You should also invest in the right tools. Most students would tell you that they recommend you buy an iPad or other tablet. You will need something to display your flash cards, take notes and practice listening to MP3’s. Most smart phones can do this but remember that you will be working on your flash cards for hours every day; might as well invest in a larger screen. While DLI gives you a laptop computer to use, this is clunky, old and slow. Nothing compares to the ability of a simplified touch screen tablet. Also, you will spend countless hours listening to videos, music, and voice recordings. Do yourself a favor and buy a set of top-notch headphones. Because you will be listening to foreign words, it is best to search for headphones with a good treble range.
Even though DLI is tough, there are many ways you can go about preparing for the course. With determination, a humble attitude and respect for the language, anyone can pass DLI. So prepare yourself and enjoy the benefits of learning a new language.