Student Stories

Meet Emma Cano

Arabic Student Alum

“I recently graduated from Smith College (2021) with a major in Biology and minor in Arabic. At [MEDLI] APTLI, I studied intermediate Arabic for 8 weeks in the summer in Madison in 2019. I enjoyed my time in the program because of the community, friendships, atmosphere, and progress I made in my class. Although it was challenging, the amount of conversational language skills I learned was invaluable and more than I would ever have gotten in a strictly college class setting. I had a great instructor who pushed us in class but also saw the value in finding moments to have fun with the language by conducting art classes, garden sessions, and more. The atmosphere of the program and how the staff and other instructors conducted the 8 weeks was awesome. There were always activities on the weekends and other bonding activities with all classes throughout that allowed me to make life-long friends. With the help of this program, I feel more confident in my future plans of studying to become a nurse practitioner at Columbia University and working with Arabic-speaking communities, with a specific focus on refugees.”

Student blog project by Amanda Fatemi-Badi

I applied to [MEDLI] APTLI because I knew I wanted to give myself the best chance of learning Persian. As a heritage learner, I had spent years dabbling with Rosetta Stone on and off, hopefully searching for classes throughout my undergrad and graduate careers only to see Persian was either not offered, or the classes offered would be cancelled every semester for lack of enrollment. When I finally stumbled across a link to MEDLI, I saw the 8-week summer intensive program offered in Madison as the ideal option, the one I’d been looking for without knowing it.

Though I could tell from the website that the course would be challenging—4 hours a day of class 5 days a week plus homework, extra events, and activities!—I didn’t really know what to expect from the whole experience. I’d never been to Madison before, or even the Midwest, and I didn’t really know what 4 hours of language instruction a day would feel like. I assumed it would be hard, a summer of studying in the library and trying to remember what a past participle is.

And it is hard—4 hours of language instruction is 4 hours of paying close attention. It’s more active learning than I’d ever experienced before. It’s also more rewarding, with more information being absorbed at a quicker pace. Being self-motivated to do the work is important to keep up and not fall behind. It’s exhausting, to be honest—but luckily Madison turned out to be the perfect place to spend a strenuous summer!

After class you can head to the terrace at Memorial Union, sit in a shady spot and watch the lake—full of sailboats, kayaks, and windsurfers—and maybe eat some cheese curds until you feel ready to tackle homework. If the breeze off the lake is too strong for your flash cards, there’s also a seemingly unending number of libraries to study in. Memorial Library is my personal favorite because of the many food carts parked outside for study snacking.

Madison is also an incredibly walkable and bikable city, in addition to having a great public bus system (free to students!), so if you’re feeling restless after a morning of learning, a long walk down State Street and around the Capital (if you want people watching and shopping) or down the lakeshore (if you can’t get enough of staring at that giant lake) is always a great post-class activity.

If you have the energy, [MEDLI] APTLI offers extra events—movie screenings, lectures, dance workshops, etc.—that help fill up your free time and add more opportunities to meet other students and practice your language skills. The student conference is particularly great, as you’ll get to hear about the research interests of your classmates across all for the languages offered during the summer programs.

Madison offers a lot of extra events too, mostly situated around the nearby Capital Square—a Saturday Farmer’s Market, weekly outdoor public concerts, a weekend art fair, a comedy club and multiple venues for more music. If you get tired of everything the Capital has to offer, exploring in any other direction from the campus you’ll find more restaurants, cafés, bookstores, shops, and parks.

While I don’t think there’s any way to fully prepare for how challenging the program is, you should know that 8 weeks in Madison with [MEDLI] APTLI will be full—full of learning, meeting new people, gazing at the lake, attending events, and enjoying a city with way more to offer than you’ll have time to see. Luckily there’s always another level or another language to learn next summer!

Ahlan and Hello!

My name is Perrin King and I am an elementary Arabic student in the [MEDLI] APTLI program this summer. I am an undergraduate student at UW-Madison studying International Studies and History with a focus on the Middle East. I am originally from Plymouth, Minnesota, and I am going into my third year at UW in the fall.

When I’m not studying, I spend my free time reading, baking, cooking, and playing trombone. I love to try my hand at foods from around the world and this program has inspired me to make foods from the Arab world. I have played trombone in a couple of concert bands here, but you’ll most often find me practicing and performing as a member of the UW Marching Band. Some of my favorite memories at UW thus far have come from my time in the Badger Band!

My favorite part of [MEDLI] APTLI is the variety of extracurricular programming offered throughout the summer semester. From fun events like board game nights, pick-up soccer, and Turkish painting to new learning opportunities in lectures on Arabic history and writing workshops, there have been numerous chances to expand my learning and involvement outside the classroom. The professors are knowledgeable and have taught accelerated language programs in the past, so the pacing is manageable even if challenging. With small class sizes and an equal emphasis on all language learning skills, I have progressed faster than I thought possible.

I chose [MEDLI] APTLI because I wanted to get the most out of my time at UW-Madison. I hope to work for the government in the future, most likely in diplomacy or a similar field. As Arabic is a less commonly taught language in the United States, the skills I am developing here will be invaluable to my future career. On top of learning the language, my time at [MEDLI] APTLI has given me a better understanding of how I learn and has prepared me well for future language learning opportunities. I am taking Arabic 3 this fall and look forward to more language learning in my future!

Meet Aaron Suiter

Arabic Student Alum

“I’ve participated in [MEDLI] APTLI twice: once (in person) in the summer of 2019 to study first year Arabic, and then again (online) in the summer of 2020 to study second year Arabic. I studied MSA through [MEDLI] APTLI because I planned to conduct ethnographic dissertation research in Tunisia, and I wanted an intensive program to really kickstart my language journey. I really enjoyed studying Arabic over the summer—I liked being able to focus all my energy on Arabic without the distraction of other courses, I loved my instructors (shout out to Ustaadha George and Ustaadha Mariam), and I appreciated being in class with other highly-motivated students. Currently I’m studying Tunisian colloquial Arabic through the multi-language seminar offered at UW—Madison’s African Cultural Studies department, and the language skills I learned at [MEDLI] APTLI have proven to be a great linguistic foundation for my studies. In shaa Allah, next summer I will be studying in Tunisia!”

Student blog project by an Advanced Turkish student

Pre-Course Thoughts                                                                                                                                                   

Whether for academic enrichment or personal growth, I recommend spending a summer consumed with an intensive language course. Yaz dili programları tavsiye ediyorum.

Since this was not my first or even second intensive language experience, I knew what to expect; however, the comfort of that statement was extremely limited before the end of the first day. Each of the last two summers I participated in first-and-second-year intensive Turkish through another university; however, since both of those experiences were entirely online, moving to an in person environment was an adjustment. Since I am not a student year-round, establishing a routine to find success in the classroom was necessary. Sınıfta başarı bulunacaksınız

Prior to the close of the first week, non-beginning level students took an oral proficiency interview (OPI), a one-on-one phone interview with a native speaker to assess your ability. This was my third OPI test and this time I scored an intermediate high level. Take the result with a grain of salt, however since some of the questions are routine and a speaking assessment, it is not a good judge of someone’s overall knowledge of a language.

In the Classroom                                                                                                                  

Language learning consists of four categories: listening (the hardest for me), speaking (arguably most important), reading and writing (my strength if I had to choose though my classmates would likely cringe at reading this). Dinleme, konuşma, okuma, yazma

Regular activities included watching and listening to video and audio clips to practice and assess listening and conversation skills incorporrating newly learned vocabulary. We also read many articles within (and outside of) our required textbooks (Yeni Ders Kitabı, Yeni Çalışma Kitabı, B2).  From these readings and of our own choice came many writing assignments of different styles (argumentative, opinion, comparison, narrative, etc.). Expect most of your in class exercises to be done with a partner or as a whole class. Çok yeni kelimeler birlikte öğrenceksiniz

Extracurricular Activities

For students of all languages in the summer programs, weekly activities are offered. Examples include, cooking, music and/or dance activities. A weekly Turkish film series and conversation hour to practice speaking with other students outside of your normal classroom setting were also popular choices.     Dans edeceksiniz, müzik dinleyeceksiniz, filmler izleyeceksiniz ve Türk yemek pişireceksiniz

Other                                                                                                                                                                            

Unexpectedly, my class had a change of instructor in week six; despite this adjustment, the change of teaching style worked better for me. With a small class unable to always cater to the level of each student made for an often challenging class. I think there is always an opportunity to learn even if you are waiting for others to catch up. The university has a lot of resources and I found the staff to be accommodating and helpful as needed, so speak up with any questions, concerns or the like.

Lastly, while I am glad I decided to spend my last few summers consumed by Turkish, it is important to remember that it is challenging and frustrating at times. It does not take long to feel overwhelmed as the last two years have been difficult to say the least. This summer, with two heritage speakers in a class of only four, I often felt out of place since I had so much trouble understanding much of what they said. I do not think I was ready for this class as my vocabulary and grammatical understanding is simply not high enough. In conclusion, I still recommend taking on the challenge of learning a new language, but believe each student should make an honest self-assessment in advance in order to determine the advantageous level for their ability and potential.                                              Herkes Türkçe öğrenmek hoş geldiniz