Languages: Kazakh, Russian
Current Location: Austin, TX
What motivated you to study these languages?
I’m a master’s student at UT-Austin and I’m interested in researching code-switching and multilingualism in Kazakhstan. Learning Kazakh is instrumental for me to do this research. I’m also planning on doing my doctoral fieldwork in Kazakhstan and being able to speak Kazakh will be very important during my time in the field. Lastly, as a linguistic anthropologist, studying languages provides a great deal of cultural insight and understanding that is very valuable to me.
How have these languages enriched your life?
Learning Kazakh and Russian has opened my eyes to a fascinating area of the world. I think learning languages is really fun and also a valuable window to culture. These types of experiences teach me so much and I really value learning about other cultures through language. Because I’m especially interested in Central Asia and Kazakhstan more specifically, learning Kazakh has been invaluable. In more practical terms, Kazakh will be an incredibly useful tool throughout my graduate program and later in my career as well.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
I studied Kazakh during the summer 2016 CESSI Intensive language program. The UW classes were unique because of the small class sizes and the inclusion of cultural elements in our lessons. We had a very small class size (3 people) which meant that we received a lot of tailored instruction and attention from our instructor. In an elementary class this type of individualized instruction is especially important. The cultural elements also taught us about Kazakhstan so that we could put the linguistic elements into their cultural context. Lastly, in the intensive environment of the program it was much easier to remember all of the information and really feel like you were immersed in the language instruction.
What advice do you have for current language students?
Be patient! Learning a new language is uncomfortable but also a lot of fun. When it gets frustrating, focus on the fun parts and know that if you put in hard work, it will all pay off in the end.
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
My favorite word is мысық ‘cat’ because I think it’s really fun to say.