Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship accelerates students’ language learning

La Follette School students Paul Tadross (MIPA/JD ’23), Matthew Marcus (MIPA ’23), and Nichole Springer (MIPA ’23) La Follette School students Paul Tadross (MIPA/JD ’23), Matthew Marcus (MIPA ’23), and Nichole Springer (MIPA ’23)

The Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship (FLAS) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to help students gain deeper knowledge of international languages and cultures. The program provides generous funding, including full tuition and fee reimbursement and a $15,000 stipend.

La Follette School students Paul Tadross (MIPA/JD ’22), Matthew Marcus (MIPA ’23), and Nichole Springer (MIPA ’23) received FLAS fellowships that greatly shape their policy interests, help them learn a language, and connect them to global cultures.

“I chose to study Arabic for FLAS because I wanted to better understand the language of my culture. I’m a first generation American, with my parents emigrating from Egypt right before I was born,” said Paul Tadross, a 2016 University of California Santa Barbara biology and history graduate. “I spoke Arabic at home, but never got a chance to learn how to read or write it or learn to speak its various dialects. FLAS has given me the opportunity to add to my skills and learn the language fully.”

Tadross has already been able to use his FLAS knowledge to benefit others. “I was able to use my new Arabic skills recently on an immigration case while working as a Constituent Services Fellow for the United States Senate,” he recalled. “FLAS helped me remove the language barrier and better assist a constituent.

In order to be eligible for a FLAS fellowship, graduate and undergraduate students must be U.S. citizens, nationals or permanent residents and be enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) in a degree program that combines modern foreign language training with international or area studies.

Matthew Marcus, a current MIPA student who was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Urdu in Lucknow, India, sees the FLAS fellowship aiding him in his post-graduation job hunt. “After some time working in other sectors in between my studies abroad and coming to La Follette (speaking mainly limited Spanish), being able to continue learning Urdu again from great instructors has improved my overall abilities,” said Marcus. “After this year, I will feel more confident exploring jobs/opportunities that involve speaking Urdu/Hindi.”

Nichole Springer, who speaks Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin Chinese, Bengali, Spanish, Tamil, and “just a hint of Modern Spoken Tibetan,” is using her FLAS fellowship to “study Urdu at the advanced level for my FLAS. I chose the language because I had previously studied Hindi and lived in India. While I was there, in many places, I saw Urdu written on many signs, written in poetry, and spoken in different parts of the country.” For a student gifted in languages, a MIPA degree combined with the FLAS prepares students to be successful in future international policy work.

The FLAS fellowship helps students to immerse themselves in deep language learning, build upon prior study abroad experience, and become more holistic and well-rounded learners.

The FLAS application for summer 2022 and academic year 2022-2023 awards is open through Monday, February 14, 2022.

Additional details about FLAS at UW-Madison are available on the FLAS FAQ page, by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and from the appropriate FLAS coordinators.

- Written by Will Keenan