488th IS opens language-learning facility to tri-base Airmen, civilians

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 488th Intelligence Squadron recently opened its Language Learning Facility to Airmen and civilians in the tri-base area, in order to help others develop and learn language skills.

Until recently, the 488th IS at Royal Air Force Mildenhall used its Language Learning Center to specifically grow linguists within the 488th IS and the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron. However, in order to share the knowledge and expertise, their facility is now open to both military and civilians at RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell.

“Our staff are all professional linguists and mentors and well-versed in how to maintain and build language ability, or to acquire a new language,” said Trent Robertson, 488th IS Command Language Program and Language Learning Center program manager. “Our facility is dedicated to supporting the needs of language professionals, new learners and those interested in learning about world cultures.”

The LLC offers a variety of resources for language and culture including a broad selection of reference materials, subject-matter experts and a library of reference materials, literary resources, and foreign language DVDs.

The initial purpose of the Language Learning Facility was to support military linguists who need to do a certain amount of language maintenance each month to keep up to speed. The facility also houses the Command Language Program and a team who coordinates the administrative needs for linguists, such as scheduling tests and coordinating training events.

“We’re the only military facility in the tri-base area that’s dedicated to language learning,” explained Robertson. “For our military linguists, we have a full library and computer resources they can use, along with study areas and dedicated classrooms.”

The LLC also provides counseling on language study practices and answers questions on different cultures for new language learners. The facility enhances the ability to network, providing speakers of a foreign language the help and support needed to maintain their native language. 

“This is a great resource for people who have spent their lives trying to learn a language or perfecting their own languages,” Robertson remarked. “We have the resources and knowledge to show them how to maintain and build those language skills, and that’s something you really won’t find anywhere else in the region,” he said. “Culture is critical to understanding language, especially at the upper levels of proficiency where cultural and historical cues and contemporary ‘pop’ culture both heavily influence expressions, slang and the so-called ‘language on the street'."

The LLC team have an obvious passion for a multitude of languages, which they want to share with the tri-base populace. 

“I was stationed here years ago as a Dari linguist and I remember how wonderful it was to have a good command language program manager who took care of their people,” said Sophie Byrne, 488th IS CLPM. “This job allows me to make life just that much easier and better for the new generation of linguists. We have an amazing team at RAF Mildenhall and we all share the same goal and work incredibly well together.”

The learning center is located upstairs in Bldg 553 at RAF Mildenhall. Operating hours are Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and no appointment is required. Active-duty members are the main customers; however, adult dependents may use the facility when accompanied by their military sponsor. Civilian base ID cardholders assigned to either RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath or RAF Feltwell, may also use the facility.

The LLC also publishes a regular newsletter – “The Language Connection” – which those interested can sign up to have emailed to them. The publication started as a squadron newsletter and now goes out to three continents, reaching more than 70 units and organizations. 

For more information, call DSN 238-3024 or email 488.is.clpmoe@us.af.mil.