About to Work/Live Abroad? Take the Modern Language Aptitude Test

Find Out How Quickly You Can Master Foreign Languages and How to encounter Modern Language Aptitude Test?

Do you know what modern language aptitude test, MLAT™, is for?

If anytime soon you see yourself working and/or residing in a country where the locals speak a different language, do delay having those passports stamped --- until you’ve taken the Modern Language Aptitude Test. This test can help you determine whether or not you’ll find it a breeze to master a foreign language, or you have learning difficulties/disabilities related to language acquisition. Given how important it is to communicate well, especially while adjusting to unfamiliar territory, taking the time to take an aptitude test on language learning will definitely be worth your while.

An Overview of the Modern Language Aptitude Test

The Modern Language Aptitude Test, commonly abbreviated as MLAT™, was developed originally as a tool the Armed Forces can use to find people with language learning potential. The tool has since been used across various contexts, and at present is owned by a non-profit organization called Second Language Testing Foundation, Inc. The MLAT™ may be taken by both children and adults alike. The protocol includes a tape recording of instructions; this is in order to standardize the content, delivery and timing of directions given to examiners.

A person’s MLAT™ score is generally considered as valid for a period of 5 years, although special circumstances (e.g. test-taker’s fatigue, environmental disruption) may justify a re-take.

Test Questions

The MLAT™ is made up of five sections, each one measuring a specific proficiency related to acquiring new language.

In Number Learning, test-takers have to learn one and two digit numbers using a new language. The test begins by the administrator explaining how one digit numbers are said in the new language, e.g. “ba” can stand for the number one, while “baba” means two. Afterwards, the instructor would teach how to create two digit numbers. For instance, if the word twenty is to be expressed as “tu,” then the numbers 21 and 22 is to be expressed as “tu-ba” and “tu-baba” respectively. The test proper begins with the administrator presenting numbers in the new language, while the examiner writes down its Roman numeral translation.

Phonetic Script, on the other hand, requires examiners to differentiate among words that may look the same but sound different, e.g. “cot” and “cut.” The proctor begins by familiarizing the examiner with the phonetic symbols associated with each sound. In the test proper, the examinee has to write down the phonetic symbol for the sound he or she hears from the examiner.

The third section of MLAT™, called Spelling Clues, is a time-pressured exercise. English words are presented in written form to the examiner, all of which are spelled incorrectly --- they are spelled according to how they sound. The task of the examiner is to select the meaning of the misspelled word for a list of choices.

Part 4 “Words in Sentences” requires a bit of inductive reasoning. In this part, examinees must carefully analyze sentences in order to surface the syntax it follows. Afterwards, examiners must be able to apply these syntax rules into new sentences by way of analogy.

The last part, Paired Associates, is a memory test. Examiners are given two minutes to memorize a set of 24 “foreign” words and their meaning in English. Afterwards they have to answer multiple choice questions related to the meaning of the words included in the list.

The Truth about Learning New Languages

Learning new languages can be a challenge. If you’ve ever had to learn a foreign language in college, you already know the task isn’t as simple as it seems.

To begin with, not all languages follow the same rules of syntax. Some languages, for example, have standard verb forms for all subjects, while other languages have specific verb forms for single, plural, male, female, animate and inanimate subjects. There are also times when phonemes common to the language you’re learning don’t even exist in your native tongue! The further a new language is --- structurally and phonetically --- from one’s own native speech, the more difficult it is to grasp. Hence, it’s easier for a German speaker to learn Danish, than for him or her to learn English.

Which is not to say that learning a new language is impossible! In fact, studies show that even adults can understand and speak as many languages as he or she wants to learn --- if only given time, effort and motivation. This is good news for those whose profession or lifestyle demands constant new language learning. And with the Modern Language Aptitude Test, you won’t have to wonder; you can measure your aptitude for new language learning.


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