I am thinking of taking one of the immersion language courses at UVA this summer. I’m deciding between Chinese and Spanish. This leads to some questions:
1. Which one?
2. Have you UVA people taken one of the summer language courses before and if so did you like it?
3. Who wants to take Spanish or Chinese with me?
4. Have ya’ll received the language study scholarship or know of someone who did (i.e. how difficult is it to get)?

Instead, I might go to Berlin. For both of these the fellowship deadlines are fast approaching.


About Jessica Smith
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14 Responses to Languages

  1. K. Lorraine Graham says:

    I say Berlin Berlin Berlin!

    But I love Spanish, and you can use it everywhere.

    And Chinese is great, and useful, and fascinating, and fun! But…there’s almost no point in taking it unless you know you’ll have at least several years to devote to it and plan on spending time in the PRC or Taiwan. I mean, I had four semesters of Chinese 8 hours a week before I could do much. Plus, if wrote memorization fills you with dread, then I’d also stay away from Chinese. There isn’t really any other way to memorize characters, and after a while it’s almost all vocabulary.

    Chinese is challenging and interesting, but it’s also a huge amount of wasted effort if you have no concrete way of using it.

  2. Jessica Smith says:

    berlin! i know, berlin. well, i’m applying for both scholarships and i’ll go if i get one.

    ok, your description of chinese makes it sound too hard. plus i’d like to be able to speak spanish, there’s such an immediate need to do so and it’s easier to find someone to practice with.

    i prefer learning grammar to learning vocab. even in english my vocab skills are paltry (esp for someone getting their phd in the language). i like the way things work, which is why i like german. maybe ginny and i should take latin.

  3. housepress says:

    the easiest and most painless way to learn Chinese is with the computer program Rosetta Stone, it’s a great program, simple to use and interactive…

  4. Jessica Smith says:

    really? hm… i’ll have to check that out. i’d like to learn french, perhaps that would be a good way to do that.

    (for the summer fellowship at UVA we have to take a language for enrichment, not one that we’ve already demonstrated proficiency in. so i can’t use the UVA thing to improve my French or German, sadly.)

    Who is ‘House Press” these days? Aaron, Eric, Eric, Mike, Tawrin–?

  5. housepress says:

    this is Eric Unger… my roommate is learning Mandarin and is planning on moving to Shanghai, and he is making a lot of progress with Rosetta Stone.

  6. Jessica Smith says:

    I used the Pimsleur for Swedish, it was good. It was good for Swedish, anyway, with the supplement of living in Sweden.

    If anyone wants to learn basic Swedish, I can burn it for you.

  7. K. Lorraine Graham says:


    The Rosetta Stone programs are good. And a good way to learn a language to use contextually. I’ve seen the Arabic and Spanish versions, but never the Chinese one.

    Chinese grammar is really really easy. Much easier than English. Again, it’s all vocab.

    Spanish is fun to speak, and you can use it immediately.

  8. Jessica Smith says:

    I know I know– Berlin! Come with me!

    It all depends on finances. Plus, I’d like to learn Spanish so I can go to Spanish-speaking countries in this hemisphere. They are cheaper to visit than running off to Europe, or financing a plane trip to China. For those things I have to wait till someone funds me, where I could theoretically go South easily. Ryan inspired me with his trip this fall.

  9. AW says:

    My friend James is in Berlin. You know, the composer one I told you about. So you should go to Berlin.

  10. DUSIE says:

    Meine Stimme ist deutsch. Hergekommen!

  11. eric d says:

    i would suggest a different option
    check out the spanish program at the University of Salamanca, it is TRULY fantastic, serious yet fun, the students are international and worldly, and the room and board is not that costly at all.The city is wonderful, the atmosphere is wonderful, gush gush, i could go on ad infinitum…Finally you really do learn spanish well. It’s the purest they like to point out, and you could swing up to Berlin before or after the study.
    If nothing else look it up, 3rd oldest university in the world!

  12. Jessica Smith says:

    ah, it really has to be *free* and with a stipend for me to live on; i have no “plus” money. all my money these days is “minus.” it has to be a program where the end expenditure is $0. that’s why berlin– and that’s why the immersion course at UVA. both come with $. of course, improving my german or studying spanish would allow me to venture to exotic locations in the future when i do have money– i’m itching to get to switzerland, s! (and belgium, h…)

  13. Helen White says:

    awel dan, doe een basiscursus Nederlands!

    – 3 for the price of 1 (Dutch and Flemish are the same, and Afrikaans is close). It would probably screw up your German, though. Spanish and Chinese both sound like more fun.

    Did you know that a scheme exists to stay with people worldwide for free? It’s called Servus, I think, I’ll check with a German friend who travelled round the US this way and has now registered his family as a host. You basically sign up and have to make some kind of statement that you are genuinely interested in travelling for reasons of personal growth / interest in other cultures etc. (Rather than … what exactly … freeloading for freeloading’s sake?) Then you get access to a database of families who would let you stay with them for free. (They set conditions, like how long you can stay, if you would be expected to help out round the house, women travellers only etc.) You contact the ones that interest you and see if they can have you on the dates you want. They only have to take a guest if they want one. Rolf said that he did once have to sleep in a barn – though he knew that in advance – but in general it was an amazing way to meet people, in many cases older couples who could no longer travel themselves and wanted someone interesting to talk to. I might sign up as a host once I get a bigger flat.


  14. Jessica Smith says:

    wow, that sounds really cool.

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