SOG Airman leaps into AF language program
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- At the age of 17 when he and his family immigrated to the United States from Republic of Korea, he put all his focus on learning his second language, English.
Now, years later as a staff sergeant with the 353rd Special Operations Group, he has been selected to take part in a program that will help him sharpen his native language skills.
Staff Sgt. Jung Jun, a financial analyst, was one of 73 enlisted members accepted Nov. 8 for the Language Enabled Airman Program.
LEAP is an Air Force program, open to both officers and enlisted, used to increase the number of language proficient Airmen within the Air Force. LEAP participants can be used worldwide for their language and culture skills during both exercise and real world missions.
"With this program, I will be able to take more advanced training," said Jun. "It will help me improve my language skills, so the Air Force can put me where they need me. It's good for me and the Air Force too."
Although his first language is Korean and he speaks Korean daily to his family, Sergeant Jun knows that in order to become more useful for the Air Force, he needs to improve his translation skills.
"When I was stationed in Korea, I would volunteer to translate when we had community leaders come out to the base," said Sergeant Jun. "I would be asked to translate their speeches. It was easy to translate day to day conversation, but it was much harder to translate technical terms right on the spot."
In order to help Sergeant Jun improve and maintain his language skills, he will be required to take monthly and annual training through LEAP.
Although the training required by the program can vary from language to language, the typical training requirements are three to five hours of weekly online instruction with a professional language instructor and a four- to six-week Language Intensive Training Event every three to four years.
The program, which recently opened up to enlisted members, is not a reclassification for his job in the Air Force, so Sergeant Jun will have to complete this training and still fulfill his everyday duties in finance.
In 2013, two LEAP selection boards will be held for both enlisted and officers. According to the Air Force Culture Language Center website, applicants are chosen based on the need for their language, defense language proficiency test scores, overall academic portfolio, officer or enlisted performance reports and commander's recommendation.
For more information about LEAP, go to www.culture.af.mil.