Department of Spanish and Portuguese

College of Letters & Science
HomeFrances B.

Frances B.

Major(s) and Certificate(s): 

MA, Spanish and Latin American Literature

Graduation Year: 
1974
Current city: 
New York
Current state/province/country (if outside US): 
NY
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?: 

I lived in Mexico for a year, climbing every pyramid and teaching English. After moving to New York City, I taught Spanish for 4 years. Then, I returned to school for a doctorate in education at Columbia University and ended up teaching ESL at Columbia, where I've been for over 30 years. I speak Spanish daily here, as it's the second language of the city.

Language(s) : 
What motivated you to study this/these languages?: 

Early exposure. Starting at about age 8, I participated in demonstration classes at Middlebury College for would-be Spanish teachers.

How have these languages enriched your life?: 

Learning Spanish has led to a lifelong interest in culture and art. It's the enduring theme in both my personal and professional lives. I've been a tourist and a teacher-trainer in many places: Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan. My latest project is developing a "citizens' curriculum" for an NGO in central Mexico, one that connects Mexicans and Americans through language.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?: 

Because I was a graduate student, I took only language and literature classes.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?: 

As a New Yorker, I speak Spanish daily on the street, with merchants, friends and family.With family, I travel to Mexico several times a year. Lately, I've begun reading short stories and short novels in Spanish, chosen by a Mexican friend.

What advice do you have for current language students?: 

Always take a class while in school, then travel, read, and cultivate friendships with people of varied backgrounds.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?: 
Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.—Cervantes (Translation:"Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are."