"My UW language classes were among my most enjoyable classes at the university. I loved having class four days a week, and although the 50 minutes was always fast-paced, you never felt overwhelmed."
Major(s) and Certificate(s): Communication Sciences & Disorders, Linguistics
Language(s): French & Italian
Graduation Year: 2015
Current Location: Boston, MA
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?
I am currently a first-year graduate student in a Speech-Language Pathology M.S. program at Northeastern University. My main interests are in voice disorders and accent training.
What motivated you to study this/these languages?
I was born in Paris and lived there for three years as a baby. My parents didn’t raise me bilingual, but I was motivated to start learning French again in high school and college. To learn any other language would have felt wrong! I took Italian largely due to my Italian ancestry. My dad is very into genealogy, and as a kid I helped him decipher Italian off of old microfilms. I am fortunate to able to obtain Italian citizenship through my great grandfather, and so I wanted to have a taste of the language at UW-Madison in case I decided to move there someday.
How have these languages enriched your life?
I’m fairly biased because of my education in linguistics, but once I had a basis in one foreign language, I became interested in learning a little of them all! Language learning makes me feel less cut off from the world. I’m definitely one of those people that try and talk in the official language of whatever country I’m visiting. Languages and linguistics have informed my career decisions immensely, and I am constantly using what I’ve learned in speech-language pathology.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
My UW language classes were among my most enjoyable classes at the university. I loved having class four days a week, and although the 50 minutes was always fast-paced, you never felt overwhelmed. The instructors genuinely wanted to share their language with you, and simply wanted to see you excited to learn. Having to interact with your classmates constantly was a major plus for me — I made a bunch of rad friends!!
How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?
I attended the Linguistics Society of America Summer Institute at the University of Michigan after my sophomore year in order to pursue a potential interest in computational linguistics. While that career path didn’t pan out, I met many awesome people from different backgrounds (who together likely spoke A LOT of different languages). I would recommend it to anyone — there are so many classes to choose from, and it’s a great way to explore your linguistic and language interests.
How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?
I try and keep my knowledge a little fresh with Duolingo, a language learning application. Also, I currently live with two French roommates who provide me nonstop exposure!
What advice do you have for current language students?
Every language has a structure to it, so try and look for patterns and rules in the languages you’re learning! An aspect of the language that appears random likely is not, and it can be fun to figure these things out, or ask your instructor for insight.
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
In bocca al lupo! (Italian) — Directly translated means “Into the wolf’s mouth!” and means “break a leg!” or “good luck!”