How the Australian Defence Force (ADF) uses the MLAT

Jumping Off the Plane

The Australian Defence Force uses the MLAT to determine members' ability to learn a foreign language. This will determine whether they are suitable for a posting to the ADF School of Languages. This is used for both recruits and current members.


The roles that are most commonly encouraged to learn foreign languages are intelligence, special forces and electronic warfare operators but the test is open to everyone and all kinds of corps/specializations have succeeded. Your results on the MLAT will fall into one of five categories:

Not suitable. This means you have not scored high enough on the MLAT to show that you can learn a language well enough within certain time restraints. A large percentage of people fall into this category. We believe this has a lot to do with just not being ready for the MLAT. It's a difficult test and people are not ready for the fast-paced pressure of some sections.

Category 1. This includes Spanish, French, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Afrikaans, Danish and Italian.

Category 2. This includes German, Indonesian, Malay and Romanian.

Category 3. This includes a total of 79 different languages. These can be grouped into central Asian, South Asian, South East Asian, Slavic, Mediterranean (non-romantic), and African.

Category 4. This includes just four languages which are the most difficult for English speakers to learn: Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

As you might expect, Asian and Arabic languages are highly valued by the ADF.

Pay increases

A language allowance is paid to encourage and assist members to maintain proficiency in an approved foreign language and for the performance of linguistic duties. How much extra you are paid depends on your level of proficiency in that language and the difficulty or value of that language to the ADF. There are various caveats to payment, but the basic information is as follows.


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As at Sep 2018, the allowances for ADF members are listed above.


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MLAT study has no affiliation with the ADF and the above information is general in nature. The figures above may have since become out of date and individuals should do their own research before making any decisions. Current rates are available here