The Linguist

The Linguist 57,2 – April/May 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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in unusual circumstances. "There were two steelworks in the town I'm from in north Wales," he explains. "My dad was a crane- driver in one and he got made redundant. He got quite a lot of money. But by the end of the week, he'd got a job in the other steelworks – so, after being out of work for about four days, we were sorted." They celebrated with a holiday to Spain. "On my council estate in those days, that was unheard of!" he adds. "My dad went to WH Smiths to buy a Berlitz 'teach yourself Spanish' course. He stuck it out for a day before getting annoyed and throwing it on the coffee table," Bagnall laughs. "I was nine. I said, 'Can I have it, dad?'." And so it began. "I started working through the course but I wasn't convinced that I could repeat this 'random' collection of sounds and people in Spain would understand me. Do you know what? They did! I'd go up to someone in Spain and deliver this jumble of words and they knew I wanted a strawberry ice-cream! I realised that by learning languages, someone else's world opened up to me and I could communicate. I was hooked." Bagnall went on to gain an A in O-level Spanish by the age of 14, also studying French and Welsh before dropping the latter for German. "I had to choose; I couldn't do both, and I thought, 'If I'm going to have a career in languages, German is going to serve me better.' I knew, even then, that languages were what I wanted to do." A military life Discovering, aged 16, that it was possible to have a career as a linguist within the Armed Forces was like seeing the pieces of a jigsaw fall into place. Before working in the steelworks, Bagnall's father had been in the military, "and that had always seemed cool to me". Bagnall was sporty too; good at rugby and athletics, keen to spend time outdoors. "One day, while I was doing my A levels, I happened to walk past the Armed Forces Careers Office in Wrexham and I saw an advertisement in the window for linguists. I thought, 'no way!', so I went in, had a chat about it." He learnt that the MOD needs people with foreign language skills to meet both peacetime and operational requirements around the world. "I knew I'd found my path and I've never looked back." The career itself is varied. Language training includes elements of interpreter and translation training, as well as skills in listening, reading, speaking and writing. Language assessments for the MOD have been delivered by the Institute's Educational Trust (IoLET) since July 2016, and Bagnall has already sat two. Because of the military context, he is also trained to carry weapons and defend himself in the field. "It's about providing support to wider operations. In order to do that, you have to be able to do what everyone else can do," he explains. "With the Navy, I have boarded other vessels to speak to people in Arabic and Farsi. I've APRIL/MAY The Linguist 11 d Bagnall tells Jessica Moore Navy has been his dream job ing talk MOD assessments The MOD Language Assessment Board (MODLAB) is the assessment scheme in place to assess the foreign language proficiency of UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel. The Institute's Educational Trust (IoLET) has been working with the MOD to deliver these assessments since July 2016. During the academic year 2016/17, around 400 MOD personnel were assessed in 35 languages. Some are course candidates finishing their language training; others are independent candidates seeking verification of language skills or returning for requalification. At the annual IoLET Awards event in November 2017, two MOD Awards were presented for the first time. WO1 David Bagnall won the award for the independent candidate who gained a MODLAB qualification in 2016/17 and had made the most significant sustained commitment to language learning. The winner will typically be someone who has maintained a high level of proficiency over a number of years, possibly in more than one foreign language. Spr Alexander Bosco won the award for the candidate from the Defence Centre for Languages and Culture who had made the most significant achievement during training in 2016/17. The winner will typically be a candidate who has achieved a notable level of proficiency, made the most progress or shown the greatest commitment to language learning. The key features of the MODLAB assessments include adherence to proficiency levels as defined in the NATO STANAG framework for languages; assessing skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) separately; providing multi-level assessments measuring skills levels from Survival to Expert; and 'jagged' profiling to reflect strengths in different skills. FEATURES

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