How a Spanish Professor Writes

Quick Facts

Favorite Word?


Favorite music to write to?


Favorite place to write?

Outside in nature 

Professor Colavita-Jacyszyn
Spanish Professor


SJU Writes: What kinds of writing do you do right now?

ACJ: I do emails, occasionally social media, but emails every day. And I’m doing journal entries for yoga. I’m doing a course on sensory mastery. I’m journaling about my behaviors. Sensory mastery is about understanding and mastering the senses, and that’s what I’m working on at the moment. It’s a lot of writing and a lot of essays. I’m journaling to develop a meditation practice for myself and eventually for others.

SJU Writes: Tell me a bit about your experience learning a second language. What was your writing experience like as a child with your first language being Italian?

ACJ: My first language was not English. I probably started learning English in kindergarten. What I remember was being very quiet and very shy. That’s not my personality, but I was [shy] for those first few years, especially in first and second grade. The experience was I listened a lot, I observed a lot, and I listened to other people.

SJU Writes: How does knowing four languages [Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese] impact your writing?

ACJ: I try to categorize the languages in my head, but I also do comparisons and contrasts with the languages. That helps me keep them in some kind of order. For example, between Italian and Spanish especially because they are very similar when it comes to writing. I’m thinking in Spanish more these days and writing more in Spanish, so I switch into modes, but sometimes it creeps in because Italian and Spanish are so similar. I think culturally, knowing the different languages and having the cultural awareness has definitely helped my writing.

SJU Writes: What advice do you have for students learning to write in your discipline?

ACJ: Do your best to not think and write in English and then translate it to Spanish. You’re doing yourself a great disservice because you’re not going to write, not at this point, not yet, the way you write in English. I always tell my students to visualize what it is that you’re writing about. It’s really important to try and think in the target language, and that’s a challenge because I know a lot of students write in English and then they go and translate it. That’s where they mess up or they end up suffering. You have to start training your brain. I say train your brain to think in Spanish, to look at something and then expand on it.

—Maya Jacyszyn ’22