While I did very well in Political Science, after graduation I decided not to pursue advanced degrees in that field. Instead, I chose to join the US Army where candidates are required to do very well on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery), or else they are removed from consideration. Therefore, I was under a lot of pressure to excel at both tests. The ASVAB wasn't too difficult and I ended up getting a very high score on that exam which maintained my contract. But I wasn't too worried about the ASVAB... the exam I was most anxious about was the DLAB, which tests an individual's ability to learn a language. The DLAB was one of the strangest tests I've ever taken.The DLAB creates an imaginary language with a series of complex pronunciations, grammar rules, and endings. The test taker is required to translate sentences and audibly listen for changes in sentence structure. The hardest part is, this imaginary language doesn't really resemble any language I'm familiar with (it kind of sounds like Klingon), and there are numerous rules and exceptions which tend to overwhelm the student.

 

Nevertheless, I was a former student of Latin. My mind had been trained to decipher complex grammar rules and endings and to understand sentence structure (this helped me the most). In the end, I surprised even myself and started to catch onto this imaginary Klingon tongue and translate the various sentences without too many problems. While I was taking the exam, I realized that it wasn't my second and third language (I know both Portuguese and Spanish) that helped me, but my experience as a student of Latin at Utah State University that helped me to make it through this very challenging test. After I finished (with time to spare!), I went to my supervisor who gave me the results. As it turns out, I scored one of the highest scores he'd seen. In fact, I qualified myself to learn any language, no matter the difficulty, at the military's expense.

 

After taking the DLAB I couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I was that I took Latin as an undergraduate. Latin taught me so much, and I am amazed how a little background in that language continues to benefit me years later. But more and more I realize that it isn't just a knowledge of Latin itself, but the way in which I learned it. Latin not only taught me about grammar, sentence structure, and history, it taught me how to think analytically and how to pay attention to subtleties in language. And this aspect of my education was made possible through the rigorous teaching method you employ at Utah State.

Latin has done much for me in my career path and I'm certain that it will continue benefiting me for years to come. Whenever incoming freshmen ask me what college classes they should take, I ALWAYS tell them that it really doesn't matter as long as they take Latin. These freshmen are usually puzzled by my response, but I quickly inform them that Latin will teach them how to think analytically, and this is a priceless gift.



Well, as far as I'm concerned, Latin isn't a dead language at all. It is very much alive in my life, as it continues to benefit me over and over again.

 

-- a former student who wishes to remain nameless for national security reasons

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