Kelly Van Acker

Credentials: 2022 WISLI Elementary Filipino Student

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Language Institute and Level: SEASSI / Elementary Filipino

Why did you choose to study a language through WISLI? What attracted you to our program specifically?

My university doesn’t offer Filipino language classes so I liked that this was an intensive summer course, it fit in well with my schedule at my university. I also liked that there was more than just the language classes, like SEASI offers the film and lecture series as well. I also like being in Madison at UW and meeting people from all over the world. Especially meeting people who study South East Asia and having access to all the resources of UW.

How has studying a less commonly taught language enriched your life?

I have been wanting learn Filipino for awhile but I found it really difficult to self teach starting from zero. So I’m in electuary Filipino now but I am already starting to be able to read somethings especially my primary sources in Filipino for my research and also being able to have conversations with my Filipino friends. I try to watch the news in Filipino. I don’t necessarily understand everything yet but I can see that I am gradually learning more and more, and understanding more and more. It definitely enriched my life.

What makes studying a language at WISLI/UW-Madison unique to you?

I appreciate the learning environment. So all of the students and instructors are really passionate about learning Filipino. It is an intensive program, we’re all equally passionate about it., equally invested in learning and I like that this year it was in person. I think that I learn better in person and I like being able to have those interactions in person, in class but also during the breaks you can continue speaking Filipino, which when you have classes online sometimes, you can feel a little bit removed from the rest of the class.

How do you plan to use the language you’re learning in your personal/professional journey?

I’m getting my masters in history and some of my primary sources are in Filipino. When I go to the Philippines to do my research, it will be very helpful to be able to speak Filipino. Both traveling and also in a library, in the archives.

What are you most looking forward to in your language program? (Event highlights)

I liked the weekly student conference. It was my first in person conference and it was a really positive experience. I got a lot of good feedback and I met so many interesting people. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to present at the program, just because these classes, its an intensive program but everyone said that it was a good experience so I’m really glad that I did it.

What has been the impact of the  WISLI Tuition Scholarship for you?  What would you say to other students who might be interested in applying for the scholarship?

So the scholarship enabled me to study Filipino this summer. Without the scholarship, it wouldn’t have been financially possible for me. My university offers little to no funding especially for language study. So the tuition scholarship has enabled me to study here. Just for people interested in applying, I would encourage them to and there’s so many more benefits besides the language. For so many reason, I would encourage people to apply and to study.

Do you have any advice for students who are studying the same language as you?

I try to watch shows with Filipino subtitles or listening to music in Filipino. One of my classmates shared their Filipino spotify playlist so it really helps with pronunciation and learning vocabulary. Also, just in general when learning languages, don’t be afraid of making mistakes when you are speaking, just do your best.

What is your favorite word/phrase/proverb in your language? 

One of my favorite phrases in Filipino is “bahala na” and it means come what may, which is think is good for these times.