Loving Language Learning

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Bowman
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Multiple languages can be heard amongst the gentle sweep of turning pages and the scrape of pencils on paper. At the Aiso Library, it’s common to see students chattering away in all manner of languages found across the globe. Although the blend of tongues may be nothing more than a confusing barrage of international conversations for some, in the case of Airman 1st Class Omar Jazaerle it’s an exercise in memory.

As home to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, the Presidio of Monterey trains all linguists across the Department of Defense. Jazaerle is attending DLIFLC as a student within the 314th Training Squadron where he studies to become an airborne cryptologic linguist.

Linguist students begin their technical training at DLIFLC where they are put through an intensive language learning course before graduating and moving on to their next step of intelligence training at Goodfellow Air Force Base.

Although learning Korean is a new journey for Jazaerle, studying forging languages is not. “I already speak Arabic, French, Spanish, and English,” said Airman 1st Class Omar Jazaerle, 314th Training Squadron linguist student. “Although I was hoping to be assigned a language I already spoke in order to brush up on my skills, Korean has been a blessing in disguise for me because now I get to pick up a fifth language.”

After growing up in trilingual households in both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Jazaerle said his passion for learning languages continues to grow in the training environment. When asked what he liked most about the Korean language, Jazaelre launched into an excited speech about how the language’s structure functions, and how much he enjoys the strict pattern of speech.

Jazaerle began studying Korean as soon as he arrived at POM, even before he had officially started class.

“For the first 20 days, I was on details. It gave me a lot of time to familiarize myself with the environment, and get a head start on the classwork,” said Jazaerle, “I knew nothing about Korean before I got started, so I started familiarizing myself with the alphabet so that I could pronounce words, even if I didn’t know what I was saying yet.”

DLIFLC is one of the most mentally demanding training environments the DoD has to offer, training students from all branches in 15 different languages from across the globe. The Korean language course spans 64 weeks and takes students who have no experience with the language and transforms them into fluent speakers.

In order to ensure that students get proper exposure to their target language, the language courses move at an accelerated pace. “Every three days, we’re done with a chapter, and every three weeks we’re done with a unit,” said Jazaerle.

Of all the many challenges students face while in training, Jazaerle says time management is the most difficult.

“It was a little bit of a shock to get into, but then you get accustomed to it. It’s mainly all about time management,” says Jazaerle. “You can’t do everything, and you can’t fit everything into one time. You learn how to dedicate your time properly and stay focused on the mission, which is learning your language.”

Jazaerle balances his time between going to class, exercising at the gym, studying at home, and working to become a student leader within the 314th TRS.

Despite the stress of the training, Jazaerle says he feels incredibly fortunate to study at DLIFLC, feeling valued and respected by the instructors on base.

“I consider us to be lucky. Yes, there’s a lot of stress, but how many people do you know that can say they’re being paid to learn another language?” Jazaerle says, “When you listen to leadership talk about how important DLIFLC students are, it makes me feel like we’re needed. Completing this mission to serve my country is my motivation to continue.”

Along with his enthusiasm to become a linguist, for Jazarele, joining the Air Force is more important than the job itself.

“I always wanted to be in the military. I used to go to the American Embassy in Beirut and meet a lot of service members there. They were always very nice, disciplined, well-spoken, everything I’ve always wanted to be,” says Jazaerle. “Lebanon was not an easy place to grow up, but I always saw the way that the military carried themselves, the mentality they had, and always wanted to be a part of that.”

Jazaerle will continue to study Korean during his military career, constantly growing as a fluent speaker as he adds his assigned language to his growing list of languages. He says he plans to pass down his knowledge and experience by becoming an Airman leader within the 314th TRS until he graduates from DLIFLC and moves on to the next step of his training at Goodfellow AFB.