AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

LEAP Scholars Strengthen Language Skills with New eMersion Training Course

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team
  • AFCLC

The Air Force Culture and Language Center launched a new initiative to maximize language development and training opportunities for members of the Language Enabled Airman Program. This new course, known as an eMersion, combines online eMentor sessions with Language Intensive Training Event immersions.

This initiative coincides with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr.’s challenge given in Action Order A to “transform the way we learn across all facets of USAF education and training curricula … to reflect a renewed emphasis on competition and warfighting.”

“The eMersion course is a huge enhancement which blends eMentor online sessions with a LITE. It’s exciting to see Scholars now get the benefit of both training methods taken successively,” AFCLC’s Language Sustainment Program Manager Gloria Milner said. “Things they learn in the eMentor sessions will prepare them to get the most out of the LITE, then they’ll return to that same instructor after the LITE to discuss their experience. We’ll be using this method primarily for our developmental students who need that boost in their language skills.”

The eMersion course is targeted toward LEAP Scholars who are currently at a 1 to 2+ level in their language skills. AFCLC recruits and selects Scholars for eMersion courses based on the Scholars’ LITE availability and past training experience.

This course concept is designed to build skills in interoperability for future utilization in language assignments. It also helps LEAP Scholars develop the next level of vocabulary in the target language, achieve the next level of language proficiency, and receive hands-on experiential learning. Upon completion of the course, Scholars will receive credit for both an eMentor course and a LITE.

French LEAP Scholar Capt. Krista Bible recently completed the first iteration of the eMersion course. 

“I completed a few weeks of eMentor courses where we covered cultural concepts as preparatory work before the immersion. While I was on the immersion, I did language classes for two weeks. After returning from the immersion, I completed a final set of eMentor courses to bring together everything I’d learned and experienced in a final project,” Bible said.

Through this course, she was able to improve her language skills in preparation for her next assignment in France. 

“It’s been many years since I’ve been to France, so it was good to be back immersed in-country, speaking the language, learning more about the culture, and improving my language skills before arriving at my next assignment,” she said.

For Bible, this course differed from the standard eMentor course training method because the learning objectives were focused on concepts for utilization during the immersion. This challenged her to get out of her comfort zone and learn new concepts. 

“I’ve completed several eMentor Special Project Courses where you pick your topic, research it, and then do a presentation. The eMersion started with knowledge of culture in a different way than the previous eMentor courses I’ve taken, and it was related to aspects that help prep you for the immersion. During an eMentor SPC, the Scholar directs what they want to focus on. The eMersion, however, is more guided by the instructor on what cultural knowledge we need to prepare for the immersion,” Bible said. “Having that prep course helps get your mind in the right place before arriving in country.”

Japanese LEAP Scholar 1st Lt Julie McCrory also completed an eMersion course and had the opportunity to participate in her first LITE in Tokyo during this course. She participated in a 4-week eMentor course to prepare her for the LITE and completed the final two weeks of the course once she returned from her immersive language training in Tokyo. 

“The entire experience was really rewarding, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow my language proficiency,” McCrory said. “I had an experienced instructor who had taught all levels of proficiency, so she was able to cater to my proficiency level as well as the other student who I was taking the course with. They were also able to work the eMentor class schedule around my time zone in Hawaii.”

The eMersion course helped McCrory strengthen her language skills by covering difficult and complex topics. From this course, McCrory increased her listening score by one point; reading score by three points; and speaking, writing and overall eMentor score by one point in each category since her last eMentor course.

“My weakest skillset is the speaking portion, so I feel like the eMersion really helped with that. I can read, self-study, and listen in Japanese, but the speaking portion was very helpful because I don’t have many people I can practice Japanese with on a daily basis,” she said. “I feel like I learned and gained a lot through this new experience.”

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