“On, Wisconsin!” in Any Language

Language Leader

Just as students come to UW–Madison from countries around the world, so does the university’s curriculum represent a global point of view.

The UW has earned an international reputation for the study of different languages, literatures, and cultures, and it graduates more students with non-English-language majors than any other American university. Students can even study the science of human languages by enrolling in linguistics courses.

The array of offerings is impressive. Although not every language is taught every academic year, during 2015–16, courses explored 65 languages, including those considered commonly taught (French, German, and Spanish) and those less commonly taught (a list that includes Armenian, Gujarati, Ojibwe, and Vietnamese).

Teaching about the languages and cultures found in other parts of the world is a critical component of the university’s mission to prepare its graduates to contribute to an increasingly global society. As the importance of language literacy has grown nationally, federal funding has made it possible for the UW to expand language offerings, as well as to provide intensive courses and summer institutes.

In an extension of the classroom environment, students can practice newly acquired languages in other settings. Whether learning Swedish or Swahili (or more), students can meet at language tables — casual environments on and around campus where they can try out a new vocabulary. Language houses offer a living-and-learning experience where students can speak Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese, and more with their fellow residents. For full immersion — and the chance to gain a different perspective on the world — students can choose to study abroad in more than 60 countries. The number of UW students who participate in semester-long study-abroad programs ranks first in the nation among public universities. And learning to speak another language is enhanced by day-to-day interaction within the student body: in 2015–16, more than 6,400 international students were enrolled at the UW.

Badgers continue to embrace languages and cultures around the world long after they leave campus. Alumni chapters and contacts are active in 49 countries across six continents. That means “On, Wisconsin!” in any language.