"Language classes always feel so alive! You get to interact with people and learn about your classmates instead of sitting and being talked at. I feel like everything I learn in a language class, I bring home with me and it becomes a part of my life."
Major(s) and Certificate(s): Linguistics, African Languages and Literature
Graduation Year: 2015
Language(s): German, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish & Zulu
What motivated you to study this/these languages?
I studied Spanish from fourth grade all the way through my senior year of high school and additionally studied German for two years in high school. I decided to study both of them at UW-Madison, though I only took one more semester of Spanish because I realized that there are Spanish courses almost everywhere and I felt I should take advantage of the Less Commonly Taught Languages that we have available at the UW.
I studied Serbo-Croatian because my best friend from high school’s dad is from Croatia and I was interested in learning a Slavic language that wasn’t Russian.
As for Zulu, I was originally planning to study Swahili, but the first semester was full. I checked out the other African languages offered here and decided to take Zulu because it is grammatically similar to Swahili and I thought it would be fun to take a click language.
How have these languages enriched your life?
Zulu has enriched my life in so many ways. Francis, my first year Zulu teacher, gave my daughter a Zulu name. We thought it was beautiful, so now she has a Zulu middle name. In addition, studying Zulu helped me to realize what it is that I want to do with my life, which is to collect recordings of endangered Bantu languages and work on Proto-Bantu.
Serbo-Croatian really made me realize how little I knew about the world and caused me to become more globally and politically aware. I also learned some beautiful poetry and met some really amazing people.
German and Spanish have opened up so many books, videos, and songs to me. They showed me a new way to express myself and have made my friendships with certain people closer.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
Language classes always feel so alive! You get to interact with people and learn about your classmates instead of sitting and being talked at. I feel like everything I learn in a language class, I bring home with me and it becomes a part of my life.
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
Indlovukazi – a Zulu word that means both female elephant and human queen.