Department of Spanish and Portuguese

College of Letters & Science
HomeCaitlin M.

Caitlin M.

Major(s) and Certificate(s): 

French Major, Scandinavian Studies Major, Certificate in European Studies

Graduation Year: 
2013
Current city: 
Madison
Current state/province/country (if outside US): 
WI
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?: 

After graduation I moved to France, where I taught English to French high school students in Marseille through the TAPIF program. I currently live in Madison and work at Literacy Network, a non-profit that focuses on goal-based learning to teach reading, writing and speaking skills to adults in Madison and Dane County.

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

I've always enjoyed learning languages because of the mental challenge. I enjoy stepping into a different mindset, teasing out patterns and grammar puzzles.

How have these languages enriched your life?: 

Learning a new language opens up your life in a way that nothing else can. You learn to operate in a new linguistic and cultural environment. I used my language skills to travel and work abroad, but I also use my language skills everyday with community members here in Madison. I'm incredibly grateful that I can communicate with people from a variety of countries and backgrounds.

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

In my language classes I met a lot of new people and made some lifelong friends. The interactive format, where students practice speaking with each other, really allows for team building and a sense of community.

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

I studied abroad twice--in Umeå, Sweden, and in Québec, Canada. Immersion experiences not only allow for dramatic improvement in language skills, but also for great personal development. When you step into a new culture, you learn about yourself, your values. Each time I move away from the cultural pressures of the US, I discover positive ways to change, and I bring that home with me.

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

I've done my best to maintain my French and Swedish skills! They may have suffered a bit while I've been improving my Spanish. I use Spanish every day at work, and I've found that despite only taking two academic semesters, I can really get my point across if I don't worry too much about elegance.

What advice do you have for current language students?: 

Don't sweat the small stuff! Difficult pronunciation and grammar quirks will become habitual and easy if you relax and keep on communicating. It's okay to make mistakes-- in fact, most people will like you more for it. :)

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?: 
Stackars liten! (Swedish-- Poor little you!)