Natalie Sartori Wharton on the Language Learning Process

Natalie is the newest addition to the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies as an Academic Advisor
photo of woman in parka with black hood and german Shepard on leash

What past experiences do you have that make you excited about working as a part of this community?

I double majored in Spanish Studies and Women's Studies (now GWSS) when I was an undergrad here at the U. I have always loved languages and cultures and had a knack for Spanish, having taken a course when I was in elementary school. I remember much of my coursework with Carol Klee and other professors that are no longer with the U as being intense, enjoyable, and full of language learning discoveries. I also did the Study and Intern in Toledo program during my junior year and my memories of that time are even more vivid. I love talking with students about that program and all the other amazing study abroad opportunities that exist! That experience was in many ways the origin point of my passion for living and working abroad that I embarked upon a year later. 10 years of teaching in 5 countries on 3 continents including Mexico and Guatemala, has brought me back to where I initially learned the language!

Do you have any advice for students as they are going through their language learning journeys?

Probably the most important thing I learned about the language acquisition process is that it is not a linear journey! There are ups and downs and points everywhere in between. There will be times when you feel like your language skills are lacking, imperfect, and deficient and other times where you feel they are excellent! All of it is ok and natural. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Language learning is an ongoing process - one that requires a life-long commitment. But if you commit to the effort consistently throughout your life, I guarantee you that you will find more opportunities and experiences are available to you than the monolingual person.

Tell us anything else you would like to share about yourself or the department!

I moved with my husband and our German Shepard from Ghana to Minnesota in 2017. My husband is from Lebanon and our dog was born and raised in Ghana. So together, (although I did my undergrad studies at the U and originally I'm from Wisconsin) we are a transplanted family. :)

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