Yuto Iwaizumi is a senior majoring in French and Linguistics with minors and certificates in African Studies, West European Studies, and Swedish. In his LCTL student spotlight, he shares with us his future plans of becoming a language teacher, and how studying Swedish at Pitt has turned that dream into a reality!
Why did you choose Pitt?
I went to high school in Cleveland, and most students from my high school ended up going to school in Cleveland or in Ohio. I wanted to go somewhere different to meet all kinds of new people.
Whare are some things you're involved in at the University of Pittsburgh?
I’ve been a member of the University Orchestra since my first year at Pitt, and I’ve worked as an undergraduate TA in Swedish for two semesters.
What is your plan for after graduation?
I’m starting the MA in Applied Second Language Acquisition in French at Carnegie Mellon this fall.
Did you have any previous second-language exposure before coming to Pitt?
Yes—my family and I moved from Japan to the U.S. for my dad’s job, so I had to learn English when I was around 10 years old. It was really rough at first, since I only knew the alphabet and some simple sentences before moving to the U.S., but this experience definitely brought my family closer.
I also started studying French in high school. I’ve always been interested in French food and pastries, and I thought French just sounded cool, which is why I chose this language for my high school language requirement.
How did you become interested in studying Swedish?
When I started at Pitt, I knew I wanted to study a language that I can’t study at most other universities, since I’ve always had an interest in languages. I saw that Pitt offers Swedish, and I remembered being amazed by pictures of snow-covered woods in Sweden and how the country is socially progressive. So I felt like I could really benefit from this unique opportunity. And, Sweden has some interesting food and baked goods!
How does studying Swedish fit into your future plans?
I plan on becoming a language teacher in the future, so having a background in studying languages and observing what types of teaching techniques teachers use is very useful. Studying Swedish also opened up an opportunity to serve as a TA, which allowed me to gain some experience in teaching.
What has been your best experience using Swedish?
Studying abroad for a semester in Uppsala, Sweden has definitely been my best experience with studying Swedish! It was great to confirm how much I had learned in 5 semesters of Swedish at Pitt, and local students were really surprised that there are schools in the U.S. that teach their language. It of course challenged my language skills as well, but in a good way. In the language class I took there, I had to read a novel and do a project on them. It seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but by the end of it, I was much more confident about my Swedish. And, while I was there, I got to consume so many baked goods, like Swedish cinnamon-cardamom buns and marzipan pastries.
What’s the greatest challenge with learning Swedish?
Swedish syntax can be a bit challenging. For example, you have to switch the order of words based on whether a clause is dependent or independent, or if a sentence starts with certain types of expressions. I got used to it after a while though. To be completely honest, the biggest challenge was probably not wanting to do work for my other classes—I really enjoyed what I was learning in Swedish, and that was all I wanted to study.
What has knowing/studying Swedish allowed you to do that you would not have been able to do otherwise?
Studying Swedish at Pitt allowed me to develop a close relationship with my Swedish professor. For me, she has served almost like a mentor—I’ve talked to her about my interests, future career paths, and advice. I know I will definitely be in touch with her even after I graduate.