April 19, 2014 | Review Period

I Want to Take the Hi-LAB Test!

Maybe it can predict my language future. Or explain my past!

Yesterday afternoon I became mildly obsessed with the Hi-LAB—or High Level Language Aptitude Battery test—which I just read about in an interesting new article from language writer Michael Erard.

I want to take the Hi-LAB test. 

The Nautilus Website

The Nautilus Website

Erard, who is the author of a book about hyperpolyglottery called Babel No More, wrote the article, “Secret Military Test, Coming Soon to Your Spanish Class,” for the science magazine Nautilus.

Of the test he writes that “it was developed by University of Maryland researchers working on a government contract in order to predict a person’s ability to learn a language to a very high level. Since its release in 2012, the Hi-LAB has been rolled out to government agencies and military training schools and will eventually be available for civilians as well.”

Enticingly, he notes that details of the Hi-LAB were only recently made public—which makes me feel pretty cool indeed for knowing about it now.

Erard recounts how, in the wake of 9/11, and with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there was a need for people who knew languages such as Arabic, Dari, Pashto, and Urdu. And there weren’t those people.

The idea of the test is that it predicts who will be good at learning languages. I mean really good. Then you can teach them fast. And well. 

For military purposes, I guess a half-baked speaker who requires a lot of training to become half-baked is not going to do as much good as someone who eats foreign accents and idioms for breakfast.

In reading about some of the test components, I thought, oops, I do not think I would do very well. But that’s okay. For the sake of science, I am willing to risk discouraging feedback about my ultimate prospects.

Where is the sign-up sheet please?

Comments (2)

Bhavna Seth • Posted on Wed, May 14, 2014 - 3:39 pm EST

Real interested here as well! I have been terrible at picking up accents and languages- would be nice to know my objective lack of potential. I realise it really isn’t out on the interwebs for people to play with like quizlets- which is most unfortunate. How can one gain access? And what are some of the components you felt would make you do poorly?

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sat, January 10, 2015 - 3:13 am EST

Oops, Bhavna, this was a slow reply. I apologize. I wrote to them around the time you posted, but I’m afraid I haven’t heard back. Maybe I should try again!

Post a Comment