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Rachel Willson-Broyles

How long have you been teaching at ASI?

Fall 2016 will be my first session teaching at ASI! But I taught Swedish to undergraduates for seven years while I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I also taught two week-long adult Swedish summer camps in northern Wisconsin a few years ago. I am very excited to get back to teaching.

How did you learn Swedish/what is your connection to Sweden?

I started teaching myself Swedish in high school because I loved the pop group Ace of Base. That turned into a fascination with Sweden which turned into a passion for the Swedish language, and I ended up majoring in Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, and then getting an MA and Ph.D. in the same field at UW-Madison. I started translating in grad school, and these days I am a full-time literary translator, all Swedish to English.

Here is a short list of books that Rachel has translated.

  • The Dying Game, by Asa Avdic
  • The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100 Year Old Man, by Jonas Jonasson
  • Fog Island, by Mariette Lindstein
  • The Forbidden Place, by Susanne Jansson

How would you describe your teaching style?

My goal is always to create a friendly and supportive classroom environment where everyone feels comfortable participating. It can be intimidating to speak up in class, and it seems extra risky to do so in a new language. In addition to the textbook, I like to use fun group activities, especially those that involve standing up and moving around, and those that create opportunities for dialogue that feels natural. I do my best to teach about the different varieties of Swedish spoken today, so I enjoy discussing sociolinguistic concepts like dialects, sociolects, slang, and register alongside teaching grammar. I also really like to use pop songs (don’t worry, Ace of Base only sang in English) and to demonstrate specific vocabulary words or grammar points, because those songs are engineered to get stuck in your head, and when they do get stuck, your language lesson comes with them.

What is your favorite Swedish word and why? 

I should preface this by saying that the only reason I know this word is because I once had to read the entire SAOL (the Swedish Academy’s list of words) and write down all the color terms in it for a research project. But my favorite word is scharlakansröd — scarlet.