Defence has around 850 personnel tested and current in over 40 languages to NATO Functional level and above.
Beyond this, there are many others who have latent language proficiency, covering over 100 languages, but who are as yet untested or not current.
Last year, some 400 MOD personnel were assessed in 35 different languages by the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ awarding organisation, the IoL Educational Trust. Candidates are either Defence Centre for Languages and Culture students learning a language to go to a specific job (about 30%) or independent candidates (about 70%); these are military personnel with language skills acquired, for example, through earlier academic study, or as a native or heritage speaker.
The ability to speak a foreign language opens up numerous opportunities during a military career, across various posts at different rank levels; this enables Defence to meet its current commitments, as well as providing a pool of personnel with language skills for contingency, capable of supporting emerging operational requirements.
Two MOD personnel were recently recognised at the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ annual Awards Evening at the Law Society in London. Awards were presented by their Royal Patron, HRH Prince Michael of Kent:
• The first award was for an independent candidate showing sustained commitment to language learning. A career as a linguist spanning 25 years, the candidate also speaks no less than 13 languages at expert level.
• The second award was for the DCLC students showing the most significant achievement during the academic year. The candidate showed commendable enthusiasm and passion, as well as being proficient in Spanish and Italian, an excellent model fellow student.