John Leinonen

Major(s) and Certificate(s):

Philosophy and Chinese

Graduation Year:
Current city:
Current state/province/country (if outside US):
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?:

I am employed at Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

What motivated you to study this/these languages?:

I studied Chinese because it was completely different from anything I had learned before. It was challenging, interesting, and incredibly useful. I look forward to continue to learn throughout my life.

How have these languages enriched your life?:

Living in China has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I feel like I understand others more easily, and I am more patient with things I find strange at first. Chinese has made me a better person.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?:

My UW classes involved lots of practice, which is the only way to really learn a language. I am grateful for the classroom practice and the opportunity to travel to China.

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?:

Living in a language house and studying abroad were essential to improving my Chinese to the level I am today. Not only that, but I learned a lot more cultural context that in turn informed my language learning.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?:

I continue to talk to friends I have met in China and I try to read some Chinese every week. I would like to start more regular speaking practice again.

What advice do you have for current language students?:

Be serious and passionate about whatever language you are learning. Find a topic that interests you and learn a ton of vocab about it to impress your teachers. Being a Chinese and Philosophy major, I started reading some Chinese philosophy to discuss with my classical teacher. If you cannot find passion in learning the language, you will never get as far as someone who can.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?:
尷尬 gāngà awkward