Military abbreviations

Military abbreviations – basic rules

Recently, I have worked at some military exercise prepared mainly by the Polish personnel. Although there were some American native speakers involved in the exercise preparation, some linguistic mistakes and minor errors could be found in the source documents. Even when I ignored some typos, there still were many occurrences of mistakes I could analyse from the point of view of linguist. That is how I collected interesting materials for my thesis on translation mistakes. Here are my observations on the usage of military abbreviations.

Soldiers love acronyms

The most striking feature of the texts I had opportunity to work on, was a poor handling of the abbreviations. It goes without saying that the military community loves abbreviations but few users can really manage to introduce them in a proper way. Here are the main sins of the military users of English.

Plural nouns in the abbreviations

First of all, the ubiquitous apostrophe tends to appear in any plural form of the nouns it abbreviates, e.g. “SOTG’s“. Since the apostrophe here does not indicate genetive relationship, all the author had to do was to omit the apostrophe. “SOTGS” is not the proper form either since it suggests that a letter “S” is a part of the expression being abbreviated, not the plural form indicator. To make the acronym comprehensible and unambiguous it should read “SOTGs.”

The proper article

Any abbreviation not standing for a proper name or the unique phenomenon should be preceded by the article matching the initial sound not the initial character. That is why such abbreviations as EOD, IED, etc. require “an” at the beginning. For the same reason such an abbreviation as UAV requires “a“.

Usage of capital letters

If we use only capital letters to create any abbreviation, at the same time we limit our chances to make the readers guess what expression we are trying to code. If you know two meanings of “POL” (Petrol Oil Lubricants vs. Pattern of Life), the abbreviation written as above, may convey both meanings. The context will decide what meaning should be the right one in a given situation. But if we write it as “PoL” we can eliminate the logistic context immediately, suggesting that “o” stands for a preposition, which makes “Pattern of Life” the only possible option here.

Thousands of acronyms and abbreviations make the soldier’s life hard enough. Do not make it harder by creating or just using existing abbreviations in a careless manner. If you follow these simple rules, any document will be more clear, even to a rookie.

You can find thousands of military abbreviations and acronyms in one file here.

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NATO training centres

Education in NATO

Recently I have searched for some specific information on the NATO approach to education of the military personnel. NATO-founded and NATO-sponsored centres of education are nothing new in the history of the Alliance but the recent boom in the training facilities deserves special emphasis. With the multiple Centres of Excellence (COE), these already being operational and those in development, NATO sets up a new standard for international education of the military-related personnel. NATO decided to depart from the concept of NATO-founded and NATO-sponsored facilities and adopted the idea of nationally founded but NATO-accredited centres. Since it is a relatively new idea of the allies it is hard to find any summary or the assessment of the performance of the COEs.

In my search for a summary of educational effort within NATO I was unsuccessful to find any statistics in function of time which would gather all educational (and transformational) NATO effort in one simple chart, report, table, etc. That kind of summary was exactly what I needed for the paper I was working on. So I surfed through different official websites and gathered all information I needed in one table you can see below. Continue reading “NATO training centres” »

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Level 4 exam – marking considerations

STANAG exam requirements

As far as the exam requirements are concerned there is nothing surprising about the fact that your four basic linguistic skills will be tested. There is a fixed sequence of the skills tests. Reading goes as the first one, then listening follows, then writing and eventually speaking. In each part the examinee should show his/her proficiency in English, but how we are marked for our performance depends on the assessment criteria and the assessors’ evaluation. Fortunately, the assessment criteria are not a mistery any longer.

STANAG 6001 – marking system

The assessment criteria introduced to Polish examination boards are very simple and clear. For each part of the exam you can receive 20 points in total. Many people are familiar with that number of points to get, however, not many know that the total number of points you are awarded consists of four components (applicable to so called productive skills only). For each skill there are different components which are subject to evaluation during the exam.

For writing it will be :

1) grammatical range and accuracy – max. 6 points;
2) lexical range and accuracy – max. 6 points;
3) task achievements – max. 6 points;
4) organisation – max. 2 points.

For speaking it will be:

1) grammatical range and accuracy – max. 6 points;
2) vocabulary range and accuracy – max. 6 points;
3) presentation skills – max. 5 points;
4) interactive ability – max. 3 points.

If you fail any of the productive components, you cannot pass the whole skill part of the exam. E.g. you can get 6 points for writing accuracy, 6 points for lexical range, but you failed in task achievement and you got two points for organisation. The total number of points is 14, theoretically it still  is the pass mark, but since you didn’t achieve the overarching goal of your task, you are not given the credit for your writing. To make things worse, to pass the components you are required to fit your performance into so called ‘top band‘ or ‘pass band‘. It means that in case of grammatical range and accuracy you have to obtain at least 4 points out of 6 available in the rating scale.

 Writing – rating scale:

Grammatical range and accuracy Lexical range and accuracy Task achievement Organisation
Top band

wide range of structures, including the use of complex structures;
complete accuracy achieved

6 points

wide range of lexical resources, including complex lexis;
complete accuracy and appropriacy

6 points

all seven elements fulfilled in a satisfactory manner;
full use of supporting evidence and convincing arguments

6 points

as in the pass band

2 points

Pass band

wide range of structures, including the use of complex structures;
a few problems with complex structures;
all other structures accurate

4 points

wide range of lexical resources, including complex lexis;
minor slips in complex lexis;
all other lexis accurate and appropriate

4 points

six elements fulfilled in a satisfactory manner;
adequate use of supporting evidence and convincing arguments

4 points

paragraphs/sections well-defined and concise;
text easy to follow

2 points

Fail band wide range of structures used, including the use of complex structures; noticeable problems with complex structures; all other structures accurate

2 points

lexical accuracy generally high; complex lexis either not attempted or, if attempted, showing noticeable inaccuracies and inappropriacies

2 points

no more than five elements fulfilled in a satisfactory manner; weak or irrelevant supporting evidence and unconvincing arguments used

2 points

paragraphs/sections present but either poorly defined or not concise; text difficult to follow at times

0 points

Bad fail band wide range of simple to middle level structures; no attempt at complex structures, or if attempted, mostly inaccurate

0 points

inaccuracies and inappropiacies even in middle-level lexis

0 points

several elements not attempted or done in an unsatisfactory manner; unsatisfactory use of supporting evidence; unconvincing arguments

0 points

as in the fail band

0 points

 Speaking – rating scale:

Grammatical range and accuracy
To be assessed throughout the whole exam
Vocabulary range and accuracy
To be assessed throughout the whole exam
Presentation skills
To be assessed in the second task only
Interactive ability
To be assessed in the third task only
Top band

all structures including complex structures fully accurate

6 points

wide range of vocabulary and complex lexis used accurately; no searching for words;
no avoidance strategy applied

6 points

presentation logical and clear;
very good organisation:
– clearly marked sections
– smooth transitions
– perfect time management;a native-like fluency with
natural hesitations

5 points

awareness of the partner’s arguments and fully communicative / co-operative response to them;
turn taking maintained and noticeable attempts to involve the partner in discussion (the interlocutor’s involvement is not necessary)

3 points

Pass band

all structures including complex structures used but minor slips or few mistakes may occur;
if mistakes appear
self-correction technique is applied

4 points

wide range of vocabulary though occasional groping
for words may be present;
gaps readily overcome with circumlocution;
minor slips repaired

4 points

presentation logical and clear;
good organisation:
– clearly-marked sections
– transitions not always
– minor defects in time

good fluency, hesitations to order ideas but not in search for lexis.

4 points

awareness and understanding of the partner’s arguments
though asking for clarification may appear;
turn taking mostly maintained though the interlocutor’s assistance may once be given in case one candidate dominates

2 points

Fail band no complex structures
attempted or attempted
mistakes in simple
structures may occur without selfcorrection

2 points

range of vocabulary
not adequate to cope with the topic;
groping for words
avoidance strategy
often used leading
to simplification of

2 points

occasional lack of logic and clarity;
organisation disturbed:
– not clearly marked
– rough transitions
– impaired time
management (e.g. parts
over-stretched or missing);fluency not maintained at times due to groping for

2 points

awareness and understanding of the partner’s arguments are limited;
unwillingness to ask for clarification is apparent;
turn taking mostly maintained though the interlocutor’s assistance is occasionally necessary if one candidate is constantly dominant or the other unwilling to speak

1 point

Bad fail band noticeable mistakes and/or noticeable simplification of the language used

0 points

noticeable misuse
of vocabulary

0 points

lack of logic and clarity;
bad organisation:
– no divisions into sections
– no transitions
– poor time management
(e.g. presentation not
finished);fluency not maintained
because of frequent groping for words.

0 points

ignoring or misunderstanding
the partner’s arguments or/and lack of appropriate response;
turn taking noticeably
no attempts to involve the partner in discussion (the
interlocutor’s assistance
frequently needed

0 points

Both tables – courtesy of Central Examination Board of the Polish MoD, “Model egzaminu z języka angielskiego”, Łódź, 2007

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STANAG 6001 reading level 3

STANAG 6001 reading test – level 3




You are going to read two texts. For questions 1 to 6 choose the answer (A, B or C), which fits best according to the texts.

Text One

ATK To Make Artillery Shell

The U.S. Army has awarded Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Edina, Minn., a $20 million development deal for its Precision Guidance Kit (PGK), an artillery shell out-fitted with precise, GPS-guided targeting capability. The award follows weeks of extensive testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., involving a shootoff between precision rounds offered by BAE systems and ATK. Continue reading “STANAG 6001 reading level 3” »

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Egzamin z angielskiego – poziom 4

Egzamin z angielskiego – poziom 4

Witam serdecznie entuzjastów języka angielskiego i od razu przekazuję ważną nowinę. W Łodzi, 18.12.2012r. odbędzie się egzamin eksternistyczny z języka angielskiego na poziomie SLP 4444 (SPJ 4444). To już niewiele czasu zostało aby oficjalnie zostać zgłoszonym do tego egzaminu, więc pamiętajcie aby Wasz pracodawca (organ kadrowy lub szkoleniowy) wysłał wyżej odpowiednie zgłoszenie drogą służbową. Zbiorcze zgłoszenia z rodzajów wojsk spływają wtedy do Łodzi do CKEJO MON. Zgłoszenia takie mogą wysłać jedynie upoważnione do tego podmioty, czyli:

  •  Wydział Kształcenia Językowego DWLąd dla Wojsk Lądowych, tel. 878 150;
  • Szefostwo Szkolenia Morskiego dla Marynarki Wojennej –  tel. 263 229;
  • Oddział Personalny Dowództwa Sił Powietrznych dla Sił Powietrznych – tel. 825 482;
  • Oddział Personalny dla IWSZ – tel. 416 449;
  • Oddział Szkolenia dla DWS – tel. 132 372.

Kandydaci, którzy zostali zakwalifikowani na egzamin dostaną informację zwrotną do organu zgłaszającego lub bezpośrednio do jednostki żołnierza (WLąd).

Egzamin z angielskiego – testy

Ponieważ jestem zaangażowany w ten egzamin, na stronie umieszczę do tego czasu materiały pomocnicze – testy, dodatkowe materiały, ćwiczenia. Czasu jest niewiele więc zachęcam do szybkiego studiowania. Odradzam podchodzenie do egzaminu z marszu. Jak każdy egzamin, ma on swój specyficzny układ, z którym trzeba się po prostu obyć.

Egzamin wojskowy z angielskiego – przygotowanie do egzaminu

Nie znamy i nie promujemy  jedynie słusznego sposobu przygotowania do egzaminu. Dysponujemy jednak dużym  doświadczeniem metodycznym i wiedzą z zakresu wojskowego słownictwa specjalistycznego. Jako nauczyciele angielskiego z wojskowym doświadczeniem zawodowym chętnie pomożemy w przygotowaniu do egzaminów resortowych.

Wojskowy angielski – lekcje przez Skype

Prowadzimy lekcje przez Skype w dogodnych godzinach i zawsze w formie dopasowanej do indywidualnych potrzeb i wymagań studenta. Ze względu na popularność takich zajęć, prosimy o wcześniejszą rezerwację terminu. Program przygotowujący do egzaminu resortowego, niezależnie od ilości lekcji, składa się w ok. 80% z zajęć z języka ogólnego i ok. 20% z zagadnień specjalistycznych (format egzaminu resortowego, słownictwo i zagadnienia wojskowe). Dane kontaktowe znajdą Państwo na stronie firmowej szkoły języka angielskiego w Warszawie.

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Back home – happy return

Hello everybody!

I’s been a long time since I posted anything here. It’s because of my personal engagement in many international military exercises and my vacations of course.

Since I’m back home, it’s time to get back to my passion that is foreign languages, English in particular. You can expect more STANAG 6001 tests to be published along with some more extensive materials and useful hints. Currently I’m working on adding some listening materials, which you may have noticed my site is lacking. Copyright issues of course – that’s the reason. As soon as I record my own samples I will upload them at your disposal.


Special thanks to Marc  for teaching me American football rules. I have never cared about that American game but now, since I learnt the rules, it seems more approachable and enjoyable to me. I’m telling you, man – we are TEAM AWESOME! Hope we will work together again.


TEAM AWESOME – the bald shift :-)

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