Exploring the world through language

As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, proficiency in at least one language and culture other than English can offer an advantage in the communities where we live and work. Spanish speakers are among the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population. At the same time, Latin American countries and other Spanish-speaking nations make up a vital part of the global economic and political landscape.

"I have been able to use my Spanish Education degree from Elon in my everyday life since graduation. I teach my high school students about the Latin American culture where I studied abroad, expose them to various dialects of Spanish with videos of my professors, and share with them a passion for language study that was fostered in my time at Elon. I have countless resources from my Spanish courses that I can bring into my classroom and use to engage so many future Spanish speakers."

--Maria Haymond '16

As a Spanish major in Elon’s Department of World Languages and Cultures, you can play an important role in bridging the gaps among these diverse groups and their cultures while becoming proficient in a second language, a skill of value to any career and vital to informed global citizenship. Spanish and a second major in another field will give you a competitive advantage in the workplace. You also can minor in Spanish to complement your major field of study or complete the requirements for teacher licensure.

Course offerings are balanced combining literary, cultural and linguistic study. Professors emphasize practical use of the language, and they help students develop proficiency in six areas: listening, speaking, reading, writing, critical thinking, and cultural competency.  Topic-based course offerings contribute to develop literary, cultural and linguistic analysis skills. All classes, including beginning-level courses, are taught in Spanish. Students also use audio, video, Skype, OoVoo and similar technologies. You can also complete an internship or a service experience in which you use your language and intercultural skills. Your work toward the major will include a semester of study in a Spanish-speaking country and your Elon career will culminate in the senior capstone course. The senior capstone allows you to design and guides you through a research project where you showcase all that you have learned as a Spanish major.

"Deciding to be a Spanish major was one of the best choices I made while at Elon. It allowed me to work with many amazing and enthusiastic professors, to study in two Spanish-speaking countries, and to conduct original linguistic research. My semesters in Argentina and Spain gave me the opportunity to gain extended international experience and to find my passion for studying Spanish dialects. On campus at Elon, my senior seminar project on linguistic accommodation was one of my most challenging and rewarding experiences, and it allowed me to gain invaluable knowledge of the research process and linguistics. All of these opportunities have culminated in my acceptance of a Fulbright grant to teach English in Argentina in 2017, which will help me to continue honing my Spanish skills and learning about the dialects of the Spanish language. I could not have gotten to this point without these opportunities or the guidance and encouragement of the Spanish department!"

--Erin Luther ’16

Hands-On Learning

As a Spanish major, you can integrate into your studies a variety of experiential learning activities — community service, internships, undergraduate research and study abroad. In fact, Spanish majors are required to study abroad for at least one semester in a university-approved program where classes are taught in Spanish. Honors students enrolled in upper-level Spanish courses can conduct research for honors credit. Selected students present their research at the on-campus Spring Undergraduate Research Forum. Outstanding Spanish students are invited to join the Sigma Delta Pi national honor society.

You can use your language skills to help others by participating in service programs such as tutoring local Spanish-speaking children, helping Spanish-speaking parents fill out paperwork to register their children for school, or working with health professionals as they attend to Spanish-speaking patients. You will also have opportunities to put your learning into practice through an internship. Recent internships include: working with Fundación Rehab that assists women who have been victims of trafficking and/or sexual abuse in San José, Costa Rica; working as a Political Think Tank Intern for Centro de Amigas para la Paz in San José, Costa Rica; working with disadvantaged students between ages 6 and 16 in Seville, Spain; serving as an interpreter in El Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío in Seville, Spain; working with a consulting firm in Seville, Spain; assisting the Fundación José Ortega y Gassett to support students and teachers of elementary schools in Toledo, Spain; and many more.

Our program encourages students at all levels to immerse themselves fully by studying Spanish abroad during Winter Term or in the summer. You can choose from courses in Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Spain, among others. There also are semester and yearlong study abroad programs in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Spain, where you will live with families and be fully immersed in the language. Recently, some Spanish students worked with street children in Honduras, and in the Dominican Republic.

The Spanish department at Elon presented me with challenges I’d never thought I would be able to meet and empowered me to excel at them. Taking the risk to leave the U.S. for the first time to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain, was one of the most fruitful experiences of my life, both academically and personally. Not only did my spoken and listening fluency improve exponentially, my curiosity peaked and confidence soared as I learned to navigate a new country and built lasting relationships with my host family. Professors at Elon are genuinely kind, supportive, passionate, and eager to get to know their students on a personal level. Having the flexibility in the curriculum to select courses taught by faculty in their areas of expertise that aligned with my interests allowed me find natural mentors in my Spanish professors and enabled me to pursue a second major in my other passion, the arts.”

--Marie Bolone’ 16 

Finally, students can choose to live in a living-learning community, the World Languages Floor, where they can use world languages currently taught at Elon (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, and Spanish) with Cultural Linguistic Mentors (CLMs) and explore multicultural perspectives.

Experienced faculty

Faculty members in the Spanish section come to Elon from a wide array of countries, including the United States, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Republic of Georgia, and Spain. Students with minors or majors in Spanish learn from inspiring faculty who offer a rich variety of cultural and linguistic contributions and a profound dedication and love for teaching.

Dr. Pablo Celis-Castillo’s teaching and research interests include Latin American literature and cultural studies, with a special emphasis in contemporary Peruvian visual culture. He is also interested in film studies, performance theory, and affect studies. 

Dr. Mayte de Lama’s teaching and research interests include eroticism, humor and immigration in films and literary works from Spain. She has been elected as the Spanish Section Head and currently serves as the scheduling coordinator for the Department of World Languages and Cultures. 

Dr. Mina García examines what historic Spanish texts can teach us about how we define our identity. Her research interests include the role of literature in the expansion of the Spanish empire, Early Modern Spanish literature, transatlantic studies, Latin American colonial culture and literature, the relation between society and superstition in the early modern period, and the spiritual and territorial conquest of the Americas, especially colonial Mexico. Her first book was Magic, Sorcery and Witchcraft: Between La Celestina and Cervantes (2011). Her current project is a monograph on colonial Mexico.

Dr. Ketevan Kupatadze’s teaching and research interests include contemporary, post-Boom Spanish-American narrative and the intersections of literature, identity, and socio-political discourses. Her disciplinary research examines the possibilities of rethinking cosmopolitan tradition through its relationship with the practice of hospitality from a Spanish-American perspective. Selected as CATL Scholar by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, she continues to be actively involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her most recent projects include the flipped classroom pedagogy and the discussion-based, collaborative approaches to teaching a foreign language. 

Dr. Nina Namaste's scholarly interests include gender, race, class, and sexual identity via images of food in literary works from Spain, Mexico, and Argentina.  She also researches how to develop and assess intercultural competency and critical reading skills.  She has closely mentored various undergraduate research projects and truly enjoys engaging in interdisciplinary work with students and colleagues.

Dr. Federico Pous’ research focuses on Latin American and Spanish literature, film, critical theory, and cultural studies in the 20th and 21st century. He is particularly interested in studying the processes of political memory and the emergence of new social movements in post-dictatorship societies. Currently, he is co-editing a collective book Authoritarianism, Cultural History, and Political Resistance in Latin America: The Paraguay Interruption, about the cultural roots of authoritarianism and political resistance in Paraguayan history.

Dr. Elena Schoonmaker-Gates teaches a variety of courses in Spanish linguistics including Language in Cultural Context and Voices of Identity in Spanish Phonetics. She is currently developing the Spanish linguistics curriculum to include courses on Spanish Dialectology and Sociolinguistics. She regularly presents her research on the perception of Spanish by second language learners at national and international conferences, and enjoys mentoring students pursuing original research projects and independent study experiences abroad.

Dr. Donna Van Bodegraven’s research interests include the literature and culture of U.S. Latino communities, Latin American theater and the impact of global experiences on students.  She received the 2006 Excellence in Service Award from Elon College, The College of Arts and Sciences, and currently serves as Associate Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the coordinator of language assessments.

Professor April Post became the 2010 Periclean Award winner for outstanding community service and Professor Ricardo Mendoza serves as faculty advisor for the Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi and for the World Languages Floor, a living-learning community at Elon.

El Centro de Español

As a Spanish major or minor, you can also immerse yourself in the language at Elon’s unique Spanish conversation center. At El Centro de Español, students, faculty and staff come together for individual and small group discussions with native Spanish-speaking staff to practice their skills. El Centro is located in Carlton building, home to the Department of World Languages and Cultures.  

Excellent career choices

There are many exciting career choices available to Spanish majors, including:

·       Spanish language teacher (elementary, secondary and post-secondary level)
·       English language teacher in a Spanish-speaking country
·       National or international business with a focus on Latin America or Spain
·       Human resources specialist or Spanish-speaking personnel
·       Human services work
·       Communications positions (journalism, television, etc.)
·       Government service
·       Travel, hospitality and tourism industries
·       Translator
·       Foreign Service officer for the U.S Department of State.
·       Travel, hospitality and tourism industries
·       Translator
·       Diplomat/Foreign Service.

Graduate study

Spanish majors who plan to teach the language at any level, particularly at the secondary level, must take graduate courses for permanent licensure. Students pursuing permanent licensure should begin graduate courses as soon as possible after completing their first year of teaching. Students who plan to teach Spanish at the college level must complete a minimum of a master’s degree in the language; some institutions require a doctorate.