Those communication skills are just as valuable interacting with civilians as they are in high level military negotiations.
And now, there is a new tool at DLI that has nothing to do with language and everything to do with surviving in a combat zone.
Amid the peaceful and secure confines of Monterey's Defense Language Institute, there are the sounds of war.
"This is the c-cot or virtual convoy operations trainer. It's one more tool we have in our arsenal to produce warrior linguist," said virtual convoy instructor Sgt. First Class Charles Buman.
V-cot is an elaborate $1.4 million computer game that transports language students from the classroom to the streets of Baghdad.
"It's very realistic especially with the ability to just turn your head, you know you don't even have to turn the gunners station you can just turn your head and look over," said DLI student Creig Colson.
The training system is housed in a trailer at the Presidio of Monterey. There are five simulator stations, each with a driver and gunner. Each team represents a Humvee in a convoy traveling in a virtual war zone.
"Had enemy on the roof with RPG's personnel on the ground," said DLI student PFC Kia Wilson.
Knowing when not to engage is just as important as spotting a roadside bomb and communication is key.
"It gets hectic in here and it gets more hectic when you're doing real convoys," said DLI student Spec. Christopher Marchlewicz.
Pvt. William Bookman has been to Iraq. He is now learning Farsi at DLI.
"It just keeps it in mind that you're not just a college student at DLI, your still a soldier. Just because you're a linguist you can end up sitting behind a weapon just like anyone else," said Pvt. Bookman.
Regardless of the job in Iraq, being in a convoy is almost a given so each training session is recorded and critiqued.
The convoy trainer has a variety of scenarios and programs with different degrees of difficulty.
"They do the best they can with us and I'll do they can when I get over there," said Wilson.
The students know what they learn in this virtual world could save their life when the environment is real.