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Foreign Language Housing Challenges Students [WISC-TV]

January 21, 2009

From WISC-TV

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are sharpening their foreign language skills and developing global perspectives in foreign language housing.

As part of the program, students immerse themselves in their language of choice on one of six floors, each with a focus on a different culture, WISC-TV reported.

“It’s really important to just understand cultures and the world, I feel, because if you don’t understand the people of the world, you can’t really understand where they’re coming from,” said Christy Pankratz, a student who speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Pankratz lives on the Spanish floor of the university’s Campus International Learning Community.

“I really like it here because you could practice Spanish all the time. And people around you can help you out,” she said.

A majority of the students in the housing program are U.S. students who plan to study abroad, but some are international students hoping to preserve their home cultures while studying in Madison, WISC-TV reported.

“Sometimes in classes, students can feel very intimidated by just the atmosphere, things are right, things are wrong. You don’t want to make a mistake,” Pankrantz said.

In the international housing program, there are no special papers or classwork due — students are just required to give foreign languages their best shot.

“We don’t recreate Germany here, we don’t recreate Switzerland, but I give my own perspective and insights, and really, students are very curious about that,” said program coordinator Christopher Weber.

The international housing program is featured this month in a publication called Spectrum, designed to celebrate the city’s diversity. It is produced by Madison Magazine. Spectrum is a one-time issue, free on store shelves. A copy is included in the January issue of Madison Magazine.

Click here to watch the WISC-TV report.

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