Penguin Hall Faculty Spotlight: Language Teacher Dr. Barozzi

Some of us are born, raised, and choose to live in one town or region for all our lives, while others evolve as “citizens of the world,” in Dr. Barozzi’s words. Read why APH Spanish Language Teacher Dr. Barozzi identifies as a global citizen, how she fell in love with languages, and her timeless advice for a life well-lived.

What was your favorite subject in high school? 

Are you already assuming Dr. Barozzi’s favorite subject was languages? Keep reading! 

“I always loved Math, it was my best subject… When I had to choose a major in college, I naturally thought I was going to be a math major,” says Dr. Barozzi. But life had an unexpected path in store. As part of her coursework, Dr. Barozzi took a class on Mathematical Linguistics and found the mathematics of natural and artificial languages fascinating. She visited the Linguistics Department, took some additional courses, and was hooked: “I told my father I was switching my major, and he said, ‘It won’t be the same when you want to get a job’ and I said, ‘But I love it!’ So, I did [switch my major].” 

What is it about languages that you find so fascinating?

“There are patterns to languages; I am drawn to the order and predictability of natural languages. I also enjoy making connections among languages, as well as to their historical development. I find it fascinating to figure out patterns and deduce meaning, especially in languages that I am less familiar with,” says Dr. Barozzi.

As a linguist, Dr. Barozzi has studied about a dozen languages and at one point was fluent in about five languages. But like any skill, she reminds us that languages get rusty if you don’t use and practice them!

Dr. Barozzi credits her native language of Romanian as the foundation for her success in learning other languages. “Romanian is the only romance language that maintains the case system from Latin; it’s very complex and that complexity makes it easy to learn languages that are less complex. Also, Romanian has a lot of borrowings from Slavic, French, etc., so again I’m always making connections,” she explains.

When did you learn Spanish?

Dr. Barozzi chose French as her language to learn in school, from 5th grade through college. The first time she heard Spanish was in a high-school English as a Second Language class. “I thought this sounds like Italian, I’ve got to learn it. So I would listen, I’d go home and get a book and study, and then repeat… and I just picked it up.” She also had a Mexican boyfriend at age 16 who didn’t speak English, which also helped in learning the language!

Dr. Barozzi in Monet's gardens at Giverny

Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France

What has been your favorite adventure in life so far?

Dr. Barozzi has traveled to many countries, and choosing just one favorite place or adventure is no easy task. “It’s an adventure every time I’m in a culture that’s different from my own,” she says.“If I’m lucky enough to know the language, it’s much easier to explore the culture and get close to the people. I can’t say that I belong to one specific place… I feel I’m a citizen of the world.”

Each place that Dr. Barozzi visits holds something special. “I’ve lived in many countries, I’ve met people from so many lands; to me, that’s the most beautiful thing.”

If you could give your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would you say to that Alma?

“My mother used to say to me, ‘Enjoy today, because it goes by so fast.’ And I really was very conscious of that [advice]; at whatever age I was in my life, I thought that was the best age.” Dr. Barozzi has passed this timeless advice on to her own children. “I always say, don’t wish it finished, don’t say I can’t wait for this and that, because it will come — but today will never come back. So, carpé diem!”

Rooftop pose in Barcelona, Spain