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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Alumni advocate language study for careers

: UW alumnus Stephan Boucher spoke to students about the importance of language Monday.

Alumni advocate language study for careers

Three UW-Madison alumni spoke Monday about their international careers and experiences, explaining the importance of multiple language proficiency for students entering the workplace. 


The panel discussion, titled Language for Life: Languages and International Development,"" is part of an ongoing UW-Madison Language Institute program, where students can interact with alumni who are using multiple languages in their careers.  


Stephan Boucher, an assistant professor in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California-Davis, highlighted immersion in the language, music, history and culture of the country is essential to learning and communicating a language.  


Students in attendance laughed as he advised there is ""nothing more central to everyday life than food."" Culture truly does revolve around a country's food, he promised.  


Malcolm Childress, a senior land administration specialist for World Bank, addressed the growing importance of multiple language proficiency in the global marketplace where labor has become fluid.  


""How to be Turkish in Germany, how to be El Salvadorian in Washington, D.C., or how to be American in China"" can be difficult Childress said, illustrating the linguistic challenge of communicating in a global workplace. 

Nick Magnan, a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California-Davis, encouraged students to use international resources to their advantage.  

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He mentioned a program called Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, and advised students to look into it. 

""The government will actually pay for your program, and give you money to go study a foreign language in another country over the summer,"" he said. 

Studying abroad, applying for a research scholarship and teaming up with professors on projects were also among the advice Magnan offered. 


Andrea King, a UW-Madison senior, agreed with Magnan about the importance of gaining international experience.  

King studied abroad in Italy, and said knowledge of the Italian language really enhanced her experience. 


""It makes a huge difference as to how people treat you. People are very, very appreciative,"" King said. 


The three panelists agreed multiple language proficiency offers huge advantages in the workplace.  


Boucher reminded students how important personal drive is in learning another language and applying that knowledge in life. 


""You have to take initiative, you have to be aggressive and you have to be willing to do stuff that you might not have thought about,"" he said.

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