While English has become the language of international business, science, politics, and the Internet, it is not the language in which most of the world thinks. Chinese, Arabic, Bahasa, Farsi, and others are “critical to our country.” The countries where these are spoken are enormously different from the U.S. Therefore, it is especially important that people in the U.S. obtain a better understanding of how the people in those countries think, what they want, and how they live. You can’t do any of those things without developing language and intercultural skills.
And, if you study one seriously, you will accumulate knowledge that is exceptionally valuable, and that few other people in the U.S. are likely to have. Critical language skills are so highly valued in various government agencies that the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) was developed as a US government inter-agency effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying these languages.
The rewards for critical language fluency are great. Officers in the military receive incentive pay for fluency in these languages. In addition, critical language ability can open new job opportunities within the government or business, new opportunities for leadership, and great personal benefits. For those who do not plan to seek a commission in the military, there are still compelling benefits to critical language skills.
Professions such as law, diplomacy, and business all have a tremendous need for highly skilled professionals who can successfully interact with China, the Middle East, and other parts of the world where critical languages are spoken. Foreign language proficiency will greatly enhance one’s career potential, and lead to significant new opportunities. International corporations are learning that competition is arising in certain countries where critical languages and English are spoken by a vast majority of skilled workers.
Critical language skills also add to a cadet’s leadership potential and provide a strategic tool to a cadet’s ability to interact successfully in multiple global environments.
Finally, study of a critical language will add a new and compelling aspect to a cadet’s academic life. In addition to majors that require a foreign language, such as International Studies, these language skills are also valued in technical majors, such as engineering, science, and architecture.