Department of Spanish and Portuguese

College of Letters & Science
HomeGretchen K.

Gretchen K.

Major(s) and Certificate(s): 

Spanish, K-12 Education

Graduation Year: 
1999
Current city: 
Boulder
Current state/province/country (if outside US): 
Colorado
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?: 

I was a Spanish teacher in the Madison, WI suburbs (Middleton, Waunakee and Verona) for 15 years, and recently moved to Boulder, CO. In Boulder I have enjoyed making the change to being a substitute teacher and private Spanish tutor for many middle and high school students.

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

I enjoyed meeting the foreign exchange students at my high school in Wisconsin, and wanted to learn a language that was so useful and prominent in the US. I wanted to help others share in my passion for speaking Spanish and always saw myself becoming a teacher, so it was a great combination of my passions.

How have these languages enriched your life?: 

I enjoy being able to travel and speak in the native language, and it always impresses the locals in Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, etc. that the blonde girl is fluent in Spanish!
I also enjoy being able to help local native Spanish-speaking students in the Boulder Valley School District understand their core class content (I was a "Native Language Tutor" in 2017 at Boulder High), as well as help native English speakers deepen their understanding of Spanish.

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

Spanish classes were always more interesting (and challenging - in a fun way) to me, and I looked forward to them!

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?: 

One of the best and most memorable experiences of my 4 years at UW-Madison was studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico. I participated in that study abroad program two summers in a row! I was able to improve my Spanish skills while living with a local family, as well as take advantage of local classes that counted towards my Spanish major.

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

Since graduation I would say I have "maintained" my Spanish skills. It's hard to improve (or even maintain) your language skills while living in a English speaking country. You have to find your own outlets for using Spanish (ideally at work, so you can do it every day), and it's a challenge but one worth doing.

What advice do you have for current language students?: 

Study Spanish, and keep learning and immersing yourself whenever possible! At least once a year you need to take a Spanish-ONLY vacation (not with English-speaking family ideally) and immerse yourself for the whole time. There's no substitution for using Spanish in a "real" way to maintain (or achieve) fluency!

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?: 
palomitas = popcorn