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Go For It: Part 2b - The DLAB
Go For It
Part 2b: The DLAB
If you pass the DLAB, you may learn a
foreign language at the prestigous Defense Language Institute
Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).
September 3, 2003
Overview I won't reveal my real name. Just call me "Jerry." This
is part 2b of my run-through of experiences with the enlistment process.
Here I'll talk about taking the DLAB.
Most people will take just the ASVAB.
You need to schedule the DLAB before you get to your MEPS (Military
Entrance Processing Station). You may take the test only if you're
trying to get a MOS/AFSC/Rating that specifically requires language
training, such as a linguist, cryptology or a signals intelligence
MOS. Your recruiter will help you determine if you need to and can
take the DLAB.
The DLAB is by far the strangest test I have ever taken. Most people
react similarly. I can't disclose too much about it, one of the reasons
being that it is all about a completely fictional language. It starts
simply and progressively builds in complexity, and by the end you
are combining several different rules that must be remembered.
If you are going to take the DLAB, here are my suggestions:
KNOW YOUR ENGLISH. If you understand one language well,
chances are you can apply that understanding to learning a new
KNOW YOUR GRAMMAR. A similar point to the above. I would
emphasize that knowing sentences and how to manipulate them easily
is VERY important. For example, "The chicken came before the egg"
and "Before the egg came the chicken" are two sentences with the
exact same meaning, but with the words in a different order. The
ability to rearrange words within a sentence is important on the
KNOW HOW TO LISTEN. Actually, I would rate this as the
MOST important skill, as much of the test is given on tape. You
can improve your listening by:
Listening to music - particularly jazz or classical. Pick
out an instrument and follow it.
Listening intensely to different people's voices. Try to
follow not the words they say, but the pitches you hear. Can
you draw squiggly lines indicating when their voice goes up
or down? If so, that's good!
Listening to other foreign languages. It's better to listen
to one you know nothing about! Do not try to interpret the
language, just try to distinguish the different sounds of
the language, i.e. accents, connections, syllables, etc.
BE SURE YOU ENJOY SOLVING PUZZLES. Puzzle-solving skill
is emphasized in the DLAB. You will be inferring a lot of information.
FINAL SUGGESTION: You need to be able to visualize
what you say and vocalize what you see. If you can, for example,
look at pictures and quickly come up with a brief caption or description
of what's going on, then you're on the right track. And if you
can imagine a picture of what's going on when you read or hear
something, that helps too.
Oh yes: DO NOT FALL BEHIND! There are plenty of questions on
the DLAB, and you WILL make mistakes. Don't worry, there
is room for mistake making. The questions come quickly, so keep
up to speed with the tape and clock no matter what, or else you're
This is part 2b in a series of articles. Other articles
in the series: