Chinese language connects linguist, local school children

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski/Released)

An Air Force Linguist from the 55th Electronic Combat Group found a unique way to stay proficient in his language of practice by helping local school children study.

Tech Sgt. Jonathan Roe, 55th ECG Chinese linguist, has been visiting the International School of Tucson to assist first through third-graders study the Chinese language since January. 

The school aims to teach foreign languages and traditional elementary academics at an early age.

“It’s a full-immersion environment, since the kids are fluent in Chinese, we don’t speak any English while we’re here,” Roe said.

The 55th ECG linguist teamed up with Hsin-Fen Chang, International School of Tucson Chinese language teacher, to give the children a quality learning environment.

“If Jon is here, he can help them with reading and he can answer any questions they have,” Chang said.

Roe volunteers at the school one day per week, three hours per day.

“I think if there’s anyone who likes the visits more than me, it’s the kids,” Roe said. “They’re the only people who are happier about it than I am.”

During his visits, Roe seems to inspire a competent atmosphere among the students according to Chang.

“When they see him, since he understands the language, it makes them happy when they can show off what they know,” Chang said. “He acknowledges their achievements by giving them very positive feedback and they enjoy having him here to help.”

Helping the school students has proven to be beneficial in multiple aspects.

“All of the time that I’ve spent here has gone to good use,” Roe said. “Not only am I keeping up with my language and using it so I don’t lose it, I know the kids are going to remember this and they’re going to go great places with the language.”