UW-Madison’s Languages

The UW-Madison’s Languages initiative is a grass-roots project that aims to raise awareness of the linguistic diversity of our campus and local communities; recognize and communicate the value of multilingualism for individuals, communities, and societies; promote understanding of language as a key aspect of diversity; recognize and address linguistic prejudice and discrimination; and promote a more inclusive campus climate in which language is recognized as a key aspect of identity that contributes to the diversity of our campus community.

Following broad campus input, three broad areas of focus were identified as priorities:

  1. Raising awareness of the value of bi/multilingualism, of the many languages represented by the UW-Madison campus community, and of Wisconsin as a multilingual state.

    Spring-Summer 2021 update:

    • With Undergraduate Research Scholar Maria Gleason, the project conducted numerous interviews with members of the campus community on the role of language(s) in their teaching, studies or other work on campus, and on the different ways that language(s) intersects with their personal, academic and other professional identities. The interviews will form the basis for a new communications campaign, to be launched in 2021-22, tentatively called Our Campus, Our Languages.
  2. Engaging in initiatives to integrate language(s) into campus-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, with an emphasis on the need to recognize and address linguistic prejudice and discrimination in all forms, and to ensure equity and access in all university activities for minoritized groups, Deaf and hard of hearing students and staff, and bi/multilingual students and staff.

    Spring-Summer 2021 update.

    • With a group of linguists at UW-Madison and other institutions that met regularly throughout the year for shared readings and discussion of possible new forms of outreach related to language ideologies and linguistic discrimination, and with the support of a small team of graduate and undergraduate students (Emily Cheng, Matthew Griffin, Eric Ho, Martha Kowalski), prepared a draft of a survey to administer to undergraduate students in Fall 2021 on the languages they speak/use and on their attitudes toward language variation and standardized language varieties; and a draft of a lesson plan to prepare undergraduate students to engage in campus- or community-based research on linguistic diversity, language ideologies, etc.
    • Submitted a proposal for a session at the 2021 Diversity Forum on Understanding and Addressing Linguistic Bias and Discrimination (Katka Showers-Curtis, Madina Djuraeva, Dianna Murphy, Joe Salmons)
  3. Advocating for increased visibility and support for Indigenous languages

    Spring-Summer 2021 update:

Below is the recording of the Enwejig Indigenous Language Advocates presentation given on April 12, 2021. Use this link if you’d like to watch the recording in a different browser.

Presentation title: Indigenous Languages of Wisconsin: Reclaiming Past, Present, and Future

Presenters: Monica Macaulay, Brian McInnes, and Omar Poler

Presentation description: In this presentation, we will give a brief overview of the Indigenous languages of Wisconsin in both historical and current context, focusing on their reclamation and revitalization by the Native Nations of the state, and illustrated with examples of community based language revitalization strategies. Finally, we discuss our work as part of Enwejig, a campus group advocating for awareness of the importance of Indigenous languages among the UW-Madison community and beyond.

All members of the UW-Madison community are welcome to join in our collective work!

If you are interested in participating in a meeting in a language other than English, please call Cultural Linguistic Services:

Español/Spanish: (608) 265-0838    Hmoob/Hmong: (608) 263-2217    བོད་ཡིག/Tibetan: (608) 890-2545    中文/Chinese: (608) 890-2628    नेपाली/Nepali: (608) 262-7521


Dianna Murphy, Director, Language Institute
Kristin Dalby, Assistant Director, Language Institute
Carmen Romero-González, Director, Cultural Linguistic Services

Subscribe to our email list

If you would like to receive updates about this project, please email Kristin Dalby or follow these steps:

  1. Send an email to uw-madisonslanguages+subscribe@g-groups.wisc.edu 
  2. Within a minute or two, you’ll receive an email that includes steps to confirm your membership.
  3. Log into your UW-Madison G Suite account, not your personal Google account, to complete the steps provided in the membership email.

Project documents and meeting reports