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.

"Majoring in Spanish at Elon gave me the opportunity to be a well-rounded college student. For so long, my music theatre major was my main identity, but taking upper level Spanish classes opened my eyes to my other passion. The teachers are so enthusiastic and willing, and I made some of my closest college relationships with other students in my Spanish classes. I was so inspired that I decided to take a year after graduation to teach English in Spain. I'm so thankful that I took that first Spanish class sophomore year or else I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything!"

Katie Moran '13

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 combine literary, cultural and linguistic study. Professors emphasize practical use of the language, and they help students develop skills in six areas: listening, speaking, reading, critical thinking, writing and cultural understanding. You will advance from conversational Spanish to courses in composition, literary analysis, Spanish and Latin American literature and cultures, and linguistics, translation and phonetics.

All classes, including beginning-level courses, are taught in Spanish. Students also use audio, video, Skype, OoVoo and similar technologies to enhance and support their learning through Elon’s Language Media Center, located in Carlton Building. 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.

"My study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taught me more than anything inside the classroom. I had the opportunity to live with a host family, volunteer with a world famous human rights group and travel all over the country. Not only did it help expand my cultural horizons, but my language skills improved tremendously during the course of my semester abroad and helped me speak Spanish with the fluency that I continue to maintain."

Genevieve D'Cruz '13

As a Spanish major, your Elon career will culminate in the senior colloquium:

"What I appreciated most about the Spanish department was the flexibility to combine the curriculum with my second major in psychology. I was allowed to pick electives that interested me about linguistics and culture, even while abroad, and the faculty was incredibly supportive. The workload was challenging, but I felt very accomplished after having mastered Spanish as my second language through literature and research-based coursework."

Taylor Binnix '13

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 in the spring. 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’ll 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 (Fall 2013); working as a Political Think Tank Intern for Centro de Amigas para la Paz in San José, Costa Rica (Fall 2013); working with disadvantaged students between ages 6 and 16 in Seville, Spain (Spring 2013); serving as an interpreter in El Hospital Universitario Virgen de Rocío in Seville, Spain (Fall 2013); working with a consulting firm in Seville, Spain (Fall 2013); assisting the Fundación José Ortega y Gassett to support students and teachers of elementary schools in Toledo, Spain (Spring 2014); 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.

Finally, students can choose to live in the living-learning community, La Casa de Español in the global neighborhood, where they can interact on a daily basis in Spanish with other Spanish majors and minors and native speaker peers. La Casa hosts social and academic events that celebrate Latino/Hispanic culture throughout the year.

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, which features a Language Media Center and two lounges where students can interact with each other and faculty in an informal setting.

Experienced faculty

Spanish majors learn from inspiring faculty. Dr. Van Bodegraven received the Excellence in Service Award from Elon College. Dr. Kupatadze recently finished her project as a CATL scholar, and in 2010 Professor Post became a Periclean Award winner for community service. Dr. Namaste organizes a yearly international, interdisciplinary conference on food. Other faculty include Drs. Mayte de Lama, Mina García, Elena Schoonmaker-Gates, Maureen Ihrie and Professor Ricardo Mendoza Castaño.

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.

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.