SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - People use the English language every day - to order a cup of coffee, to talk about the latest television show or news, or to provide instruction on a new piece of equipment.
Thanks to an award-winning language program, 97 percent of the Soldiers in the 732nd Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion can do all that and more in at least two languages.
The command language program (CLPM) at the 732nd MI Bn. was recently named the Army's 2008 Command Language Program of the Year, and it was recognized as a runner-up for the Department of Defense 2008 Command Language Program of the Year.
"It's a great honor to receive the award, but indicative of all ranks doing their jobs well," said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Nuno, CLPM manager, 732nd MI Bn.
Nuno's job is to make sure all the linguists in his unit are proficient in their languages. To do this, he uses every available means to evaluate Soldiers on their skill level and sends them to an appropriate course to improve and maintain skills.
Kevin Kyler, deputy S3, 732nd MI Bn., attributes the program's success to command involvement and support for out-of-the-box thinking and training.
"The diversity of the program is a huge factor," said Kyler. "It's not just a cookie-cutter approach to training and maintaining skills. We use a variety of approaches."
Those possibilities include opportunities such as taking Summer Language (SLANG) programs, making use of in-country immersions, and sending Soldiers to take advantage of programs at the International School, Monterey, Calif., the University of Hawaii, and at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Nuno also called forth his skilled linguists to administer a mentor program.
"Mentors such as Sgt. Sharon Teng have brought up linguists from sub-performance to proficient," Nuno said. "She has gone above and beyond what's expected of a mentor to build an entire language program."
Though Nuno is the CLPM current administrator, he takes no credit for the award.
"Honestly, I inherited the program from Sgt. 1st Class Janine Wolf, who left active duty to go into the National Guard in South Dakota," he said. "All the program implementation was in while she was in charge of the CLPM."
The Army judged the program on a variety of criteria. The unit was validated on command involvement, language council, compliance with regulations, database management, use of language resources, incentive and marked progress in CLPM, AND training and methodology. The unit also received an evaluation on how they do business.
The Army also took into account the accomplishments of the unit, which continues to support Pacific and national missions at all levels.
The 732nd received commendations from U.S. Army-Pacific and the Joint Information Operations Center commanders. Soldiers from the battalion translated for four high-level military VIPs. The unit additionally provided support for course development at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, for linguists in the career field.
The primary evaluation of linguists is the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), which is run and scheduled by the CLPM manager. The DLPT measures the reading and listening ability of a linguist, and the test is designed to gauge a person with no ability (0) to a person with a general professional proficiency (3).
"Ninety-seven percent of our Soldiers test at a (listening) 2 and (reading) 2 level, with 24 percent testing at a 3-3 level," Kyler said. "The reason for this is that 99 percent of the linguists received training annually, which led to the successes in the battalion."
The linguists are also stellar Soldiers. According to Nuno, in the past three years, three of the 500th MI Brigade NCOs of the Year and two of the last 500th MI Brigade Soldiers of the Year have been from the 732nd MI Bn.
"The three things that made this program successful were command involvement, Soldier motivation and a good training program," said Kyler.
"The linguists of the 732nd do their jobs very well and will hopefully do well for next year's competition," added Nuno.

Language proficiency
The Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) measures the reading and listening ability of a linguist. The test is designed to gauge a person with no ability (0) to a person with a general professional proficiency (3).
The ratings are:
0 No proficiency
0+ Memorized Proficiency
1 Elementary Proficiency
1+ Elementary Proficiency, Plus
2 Limited Working Proficiency
2+ Limited Working Proficiency, Plus
3 General Professional Proficiency
3+ General Professional Proficiency, Plus

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16