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What is a useful language to learn if I want to have a career in law enforcement?

Specifically, I'm considering a career in the FBI or CIA; however, answers about useful languages for working in local law enforcement would also be appreciated. Thanks! #law-enforcement #foreign-languages

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Subject: Career question for you


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George’s Answer

There are many useful languages for law enforcement. If you are considering your local police department or sheriff's office you should look at your community to see what languages are prevalent, Spanish is quite widespread throughout the country. If you are interested in the Intelligence Community or Federal Law Enforcement I can recommend that you look at the world to see what languages we might have a need for. Currently, Arabic, Chinese, Pashto and Central Asian languages are of interest as well as Russian and other Slavic Languages. It is also important to take note of your talents. Do you already speak a second language? If you do, it could be easier for you to learn another. I would also suggest that if you are interested in a particular agency that you contact them and ask what they need in the was of languages. I hope this helps you.


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Prophetess Twila M.’s Answer

Spanish is a very useful foreign language for any field.. However, before choosing a language know the needs of the hiring agency..

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Gary’s Answer

Hi Bethany!

Your choice of language would depend upon your career path. International law enforcement would focus on countries throughout Asia, Africa, Central and South America. The following list will give you examples of the law enforcement interest within certain regions of the world, the countries within those regions, and the common language spoken by each country (keep in mind that this is not a complete list, merely an example – in other words, just because a particular country may not be listed does not indicate that there is or is not an interest by international law enforcement. Also note that I have not listed European nations, when I have more time I’ll add them to the list):

Western Asia (anti-terrorism, human rights violations, foreign affairs)
Armenia – Armenian, Russian (East Slavic)
Bahrain – Arabic
Iran – Western Persian (Farsi)
Iraq – Arabic, Kurdish
Israel – Hebrew, Arabic
Jordan – Arabic
Kuwait – Arabic
Lebanon – Arabic
Oman – Arabic
Qatar – Arabic
Saudi Arabia – Arabic
Syria – Arabic
United Arab Emirates – Arabic
Yemen – Arabic

Southeast Asia (human trafficking, drug trafficking, foreign affairs)
Cambodia – Khmer
Indonesia – Bahasa Indonesia
Laos – Lao
Malaysia – Bahasa Melayu
Philippines – Filipino
Singapore – Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, English
Thailand – Thai

South Asia (anti-terrorism, human rights violations, foreign affairs)
Afghanistan – Pashto, Eastern Presian (Dari Persian)
Pakistan – Urdo
Sri Lanka – Sinhala

North Asia (foreign affairs, organized crime)
Russia – Russian (East Slavic)

East Asia (foreign affairs, human rights violations, organized crime)
China – Mandarin
Japan – Japanese
North Korea – Korean
South Korea – Korean
Taiwan – Mandarin

Central Asia (anti-terrorism, foreign affairs)
Kazakhstan – Kazakh
Tajikistan – Tajiki
Uzbekistan – Uzbek

Northern Africa (anti-terrorism, foreign affairs, human rights violations)
Egypt – Arabic
Libya – Arabic
Sudan – Arabic, Hausa

Eastern Africa (Foreign affairs, human rights violations, organized crime)
Ethiopia – Amharic, Oromo
Kenya – Kiswahili, English, Oromo
Mozambique – Portuguese, Shona
Rwanda – Rwanda, French, English
Somalia – Somali, Oromo
Uganda – English

South America (Drug trafficking, organized crime, foreign affairs)
Argentina - Spanish
Bolivia – Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Brazil – Portuguese
Columbia – Spanish
Chile – Spanish
Ecuador – Spanish
Peru – Spanish, Quechua
Venezuela – Spanish

Central America (Drug trafficking, organized crime, foreign affairs)
Costa Rica – Spanish
El Salvador – Spanish
Guatemala – Spanish, Amerindian
Mexico (actually North America) - Spanish
Nicaragua – Spanish
Panama- Spanish

National law enforcement would really focus on your geographic location. Almost every local and state law enforcement agency has an organized crime or drug task force division. Some of the more common organizations include the Italian mafia, Russian mafia, Yakuza, and the drug cartels of the Southern American countries. If you moved to the Southwest, it would be of great benefit to learn Spanish. Western United States would benefit from Japanese, Mandarin, Filipino, and Spanish. Eastern United States would benefit from Spanish, Italian, Russian, and French (towards Canadian border).

Also keep in mind that national and international law enforcement (more international) wants to see proficiency in a particular language. This may include going above and beyond by learning the various dialects of that particular region. This requires a great deal of practice and training; however, it will also set you above the rest. I almost forgot to mention another group which is highly sought after by law enforcement – cyber languages. If you can code, you’re gold (ok, just a bit corny, but it rhymed). Don’t get overwhelmed, follow your dreams, practice, practice, practice, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to – good luck!!!
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Richard’s Answer

What language is useful to learn for a career in law enforcement depends on several factors, e.g., (a) which agency you will be working for, (b) what you will be doing in that agency, and (c) what each agency needs and uses, and (d) what career aspirations you have in general. Although learning multiple languages is very beneficial in general for the brain. You may consider contacting various agencies that you're interested in and inquire what languages they can and do use. It's always best to go directly to the source to get the data.