Home - Centers and Institutes - Keck Humanities Center - W.M. Keck Center for Language Study
W.M. Keck Center for Language Study

Latest Posts

Language Student Interview Spotlight: Jenny Lundt ’19

By ninapalisano on March 18, 2019
Jenny in Nepal

What languages do you speak and/or study?

I have studied Arabic and Tibetan formally during my time at Colgate, and I’ve studied Spanish since high school and now speak it fluently. I also speak a bit of French learned in high school. I learned Portuguese informally in Brazil, but my Portuguese is pretty bad – I need to be going to Table of Babel to brush up!

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

I’m from Southern California, and I definitely had a lot more exposure to Spanish and Spanish speakers while I was learning that language – as opposed to Hamilton, where my use of Arabic is primarily contained to the classroom. The other main difference in language study here is that while I have a lot less actual class time than I had in high school, I’ve committed a much larger portion of my time in general to studying and speaking the languages that I’m learning.

What has been your favorite language class or professor on campus?

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Shaemma Essa, an Arabic instructor who is sadly not teaching at Colgate any more. She is finishing up her degree at McGill and I miss her every day!

Have you done any interesting research projects at Colgate?

I have done mini research projects on chess, radio, and sustainable building methods in Peru, Mexico, and Colombia. These experiences gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish in three different cultures and contexts. Using Spanish during those projects helped me to understand WAY more than I would have otherwise.

What else do you study besides languages? Do you see crossover between your fields of study?

My major is Peace and Conflict Studies – and absolutely! There are so many ties between language skills and peacemaking – and in being able to resolve conflicts and differences. The root of tolerance is understanding, which has to be reached by communication. I think they are connected in every way.

Have you received any scholarships or fellowships for language study?

I haven’t received any formal language scholarships from Colgate, but I received summer funding after my freshman year to travel to Amman, Jordan and practice my Arabic. I also received funding last summer to travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where I picked up some Indonesian.

Have you been able to study abroad? What was your experience like, and how did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

I studied abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal – and I absolutely loved my time in Nepal. The people I met there – from the people on my program and the staff, the instructors, and my language partners – made my experience so memorable. We learned so much about Tibetan and Himalayan cultures and experiences, traveled to beautiful places, pushed ourselves past our comfort zones, and made beautiful memories together. You can read more about my study abroad experience in this series: http://blogs.colgate.edu/bentonscholars/category/tbs-abroad

What recommendations would you have for someone who wants to learn the languages that you study?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The best way to learn a language is to lose all shame and self-consciousness, and just throw yourself into learning. If you approach it with hesitation and nervousness, you won’t actually be absorbing what you learn. Make your mistakes and laugh them off. You’ll be better off for it!

Why do you think studying languages is important?

Having the ability to connect with others – even on a basic level with “hellos” and “how are yous” – can transform your relationship with people and places. It leads to more cross-cultural understanding and tolerance and is tied inextricably to world peace. When we try to understand each other and build relationships, that’s where magic happens.

What impact do you see language study having on the rest of your life? Do you have any future plans that involve languages?

I plan to have an international career, although I’m not exactly sure of the field yet. I know that whatever I choose to do will involve language in some aspect, and it’s important for both my personal and career fulfillment to be able to communicate well. I recently received a Projects for Peace Fellowship, so I will be in Timor-Leste during the summer of 2019. I plan to improve both my Indonesian and my Portuguese while I’m there, as both languages are spoken on the island. Since my project under this fellowship is about peace and reconciliation, I think my knowledge of languages will be crucial.


Language Student Interview Spotlight: Renee Congdon ’20

By ninapalisano on February 18, 2019
Renee (right) with a group of international friends in Madrid, Spain

What languages do you speak/study?

I speak and study Spanish, and I speak Portuguese at an intermediate level.

Did you study languages before coming to Colgate?

Yes. Growing up I learned American Sign Language to communicate with my cousin, who is deaf. In high school I began to take Spanish classes, and also studied Swahili for about 6 months.

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

Language study at Colgate, for me, has been entirely literature-based. In high school I only ever took language/grammar courses, but since my first semester at Colgate I have been taking courses in Latin American and Spanish literature. This makes language study much more engaging and dynamic for me personally. 

What has been your favorite language class and/or professor on campus?

This is such a tough question. ROLA has such great professors. I think there’s a three-way tie here between Marta Pérez Carbonell, Ricardo Monsalve, and Fernando Plata. In particular, I really enjoyed Marta’s class on contemporary Spanish novels and her short stories class, as well as Ricardo’s seminar on Borges.   

What else do you study besides languages?

I’m currently working on minors in Linguistics and English. 

Do you see crossover between your fields of study?

Definitely. Linguistics is fascinating, and very relevant to Spanish studies, especially when looking at older texts in which you can actually see examples of the way the language has evolved. English, in also being a literature major, definitely crosses over and provides me with more points of reference for my Spanish literature studies. 

Have you received any scholarships or fellowships for language study?

Last summer I received a Lampert Language Fellowship to study Portuguese. I was able to take private lessons all throughout the summer, and then put the language skills I’d learned to the test in December, when I visited mainland Portugal and the Azores Islands. 

Where have you been able to study abroad?

I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad in Madrid, Spain during the Fall 2018 semester. The Madrid trip is a Colgate program run through the Spanish department in collaborating with CEU San Pablo, a private university in Madrid. Throughout the semester, we also travelled around Spain, visiting Toledo, Granada, Santiago de Compostela and lots of other towns.

What was your study abroad experience like? How did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

My study abroad experience was so wonderful. Speaking Spanish 24/7 was so helpful for my fluency and confidence, and being able to live in and explore Madrid was especially exciting after two years in Hamilton. My all time favorite part of my study abroad experience was, without a doubt, the people I met in Madrid. I got very close with a group of students from CEU, including some Spanish students as well as some international students from Peru and Colombia. We would often go out to eat together or spend hours hanging out at one of our apartments, chatting in Spanish and occasionally singing, dancing, and playing guitar, since lots of them happen to be musically inclined. Spending so much time with them was incredibly helpful for improving my accent and my casual conversational abilities. 

What recommendations would you give to someone who wanted to learn the language you study?

DO IT! Spanish is arguably one of the most useful (not to mention beautiful) languages you can learn, especially as someone living in North America. 

Why do you think studying languages is important?

It opens up an entire new population of the world to you. It also helps to expand your worldview in a very concrete, psychological way: if you subscribe to the theory of linguistic relativity, you understand that the language you speak limits, channels, and shapes your reality. When you learn a new language, you often change your interpretation of reality. Additionally, if you enjoy traveling, I think it’s crucial to speak another language besides English to enrich your experience. 

What impact do you see language study having on the rest of your life?

It will hopefully dictate and guide my entire career path! My current plan is to apply for doctoral programs in Spanish literature, and to hopefully eventually become a university professor. Additionally, I now have many close friends that I would’t have gotten to know if I didn’t speak Spanish. I see those friendships continuing – and new ones being created throughout the rest of my life – as a result of studying Spanish.


The Keck Center Presents: Spring 2019 International Short Film Series (Feb 12: “Love”)

By ninapalisano on February 11, 2019

The Keck Center is thrilled to host a themed short film series this semester! We’re kicking things off on Tuesday, February 12 at 6PM with Valentine-themed cinema and candy from around the world.

彼女と彼女の猫“She and Her Cat” (Japanese, 1999) 4:44 runtime 
A year in the life of a cat and his human.

Vale “Okay” (Spanish and English, 2015) 12:04 runtime
Celebrating life and saying “yes” to invitations – despite a language barrier.

Una notte ancora “One More Night” (Italian, 2012) 10:55 runtime
Two men navigate the painful and poetic end of their love affair.

“Samuel-613” (Yiddish and English, 2015) 15:45 runtime 
A young Hasidic man in Britain faces the modern temptation of online dating.

 RHINOS “Love Knows No Border” (German and English, 2012) 14:00 runtime
A chance meeting on a park bench leads to (mis)understanding and connection.


Language Student Interview Spotlight: Lindsey Johnson ’20

By ninapalisano on February 4, 2019
Lindsey in Moscow

Oneida Shushe spoke with Colgate junior Lindsey Johnson.

What languages do you speak/study?

I’m studying the Russian language, and I had absolutely no prior experience with the language before coming to Colgate. 

Did you study any other languages before coming to Colgate?

In middle and high school I took Spanish language classes. 

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

I think the biggest difference between high school and college language study has just been the language itself. Russian is much more difficult to learn – and easier to forget! But classes meet nearly every day of the week, which helps with retention while taking the class. 

What has been your favorite language class or professor on campus?

I think my favorite language class I took on campus was second semester first year Russian with Professor Alice Nakhimovsky, because it was a small class and a fun learning environment.

What else do you study besides languages? Do you see any crossover between your separate fields of study?

My other major is Peace and Conflict Studies. I have focused on 20th century Russia/Soviet Union, so there has actually been quite a bit of crossover between my two majors.

Have you received any scholarships or fellowships for language study? If so, where have you been able to study abroad?

Last year I received a Lampert Language Fellowship, which allowed me to take the the Summer 2017 Russian Language Practicum at Columbia University. This was in an intensive course that helped me to prepare for my fall semester in Moscow on a Middlebury College program. 

What was your study abroad experience like? How did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

My study abroad was difficult but rewarding, as I had to sign a Language Pledge and all of my classes were in Russian. I also lived with a Russian woman who spoke little to no English. 

Why do you think studying languages is important?

 I think studying language has always been very important, but especially now since we live in such a global world. Moreover, because of the U.S.’s current relationship with Russia, learning Russian can be extremely valuable in many ways – if only to allow us to empathize with the Russian people.

What impact do you see language study having for the rest of your life? Do you have any future plans that involve the language you study?

I am not absolutely sure what I want to do yet, but I hope to do something involving peacebuilding or diplomacy in the future. 


Language Student Interview Spotlight: Justine Hu ’21

By ninapalisano on January 29, 2019
Justine in Morocco

Student Assistant Oneida Shushe chatted with Justine Hu about family, fluency, and international relations.

What languages do you speak/study?

I study Arabic here at Colgate. I have also studied Chinese, French, and a tiny bit of Spanish and Italian.

Did you study languages before coming to Colgate?

I grew up bilingual; both my parents are from China. I subsequently took 12 years of Chinese Language schooling as a child and an additional 5 years of French in high school. I attempted to teach myself basic Spanish as a personal project the summer before my senior year, and took one year of basic Arabic before coming to Colgate.

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

Language study at Colgate is super intensive and fast-paced; I have learned so much more Arabic in three semesters than I ever expected.

Do you have a favorite language class or professor on campus?

The whole Arabic department on campus is amazing.

What else do you study besides languages?

I am an International Relations major with a double minor in Economics and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Do you see any crossover between the two fields?

There is a great deal of crossover in all these areas; languages are critical to understanding global affairs and engagement as well as global economics. 

Have you been able to study abroad? If yes, what was the experience like? How did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

I went on an extended study trip to Morocco the summer after my first year, and I will also be participating in the Geneva study group in the Spring of 2020. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Morocco. It allowed me to immerse myself in the Arabic language, and it positively affected my decision to add a MIST minor. I am looking forward to studying in Geneva and picking back up with my high school study of French. I am planning to study both Arabic and French while abroad, as both languages contribute greatly to my future goals as an IR major.

What recommendations would you give to someone who wanted to learn the language you study?

Do it! Arabic can require a ton of work, but it is all worth it with the amount that you get out of learning the language. Learning a completely new alphabet sounds daunting, but once you start studying Arabic, you’ll get hooked.

Why do you think studying languages is important?

Studying languages is critical for communication and understanding. As a child, I initially hated having to study another language because it felt unfair that I had an additional day of school and extra homework. I did not study Mandarin as well as I should have; and as a result, I sometimes have difficulty communicating with my own relatives. While language is sometimes seen as a “window” to a new world, it can unfortunately be a barrier as well. Realizing the limitations in my knowledge of languages also allowed me to realize its possibilities; this past summer I taught English classes at a language school in China, an opportunity that allowed me to better see the huge impact language can have. I now recognize and fully appreciate its power in connecting people. 

What impact do you see language study having for the rest of your life?

I plan to study languages for the rest of my life. I eventually hope to become fluent in at least 5 or 6, but my main goal right now outside of fluency in Arabic is to improve my Mandarin. 

Do you have any future plans that involve the language you study?

Although I don’t have set plans for a future career, I hope to be able to utilize Arabic in whatever field I enter.