Wise Fools: Learning Languages at Brown


Curious about sophomore life and learning at Brown? Here you hear about the best and worst parts of being a second year at Brown.  Follow a sophomore (from the Greek sophos or wise and moros or fool) and aspiring Classicist Hannah Liu around Brown and the surrounding area as she explores from a student’s point of view. 

Some say that learning foreign languages at Brown is incredibly intense, but really useful and fun.  They’re right!  The language program here is amazing!  In a year, you could learn one of the 25 languages that Brown offers from Czech to Sanskrit to German to American Sign Language.  If those languages aren’t enough for you, there are several other language programs here that can fill in the gaps.

One of my favorites is the ones that pair you, a fluent English speaker, with another student (usually a graduate student) who wants to improve their English, and in return you learn some of their native language.  Another great program is Brown Student Language Exchange.  This is a student-run enterprise that helps expose students to languages that are not offered through the university by asking fluent students to lead small classes.  This semester they’re offering Dutch, Kiswahili, Malay, Serbo-Croatian, and Tamil.

This year I decided to take Italian because I plan to go to Italy for an extended period of time one day, but also because I hadn’t taken a spoken language since I was ten years old (I’ve just done Latin since then), and I wanted to try it out again.  I discovered that the graduate students who teach Italian are really great, and that the program is just as good and intense as people say!  By the end of the year I will be able to carry on a conversation with an Italian person, and take care of myself if I ever end up in Italy on my own.  I am amazed with how much I have learned and will learn!

If you want, you can take your language class S/NC (Pass/No Credit), so you can truly enjoy learning without the stress of getting an A.  College is the perfect time to learn a new language, and at Brown the programs are great and the pressure is off. When you come to Brown, be sure to take advantage of these wonderful resources and learn a new language!

What are some questions that you have about Brown?  Is there anything specific that you would like to read about in Wise Fools?  Please email me at Hannah_Liu@Brown.edu with any suggestions, comments, questions, or concerns!


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