As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, proficiency in at least one foreign language 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.
As a Spanish major in Elon’s Department of Foreign Languages, 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 value to any career. You also can minor in Spanish to complement your major field of study or complete the requirements for teacher licensure.
“The Spanish faculty opened the world to me. I spent a semester in Costa Rica, completed a summer internship in the Dominican Republic, volunteered in Mexico and presented research at an International Literature Conference in Peru. The faculty challenged me to achieve my potential and to use that ability to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Course offerings are balanced between 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 culture, and linguistics, translation and phonetics.
All classes, including beginning-level courses, are taught in Spanish. Students also use audio, video and computer technology to enhance and support their learning through Elon’s newly renovated Language Media Center, located in Carlton Building. You can also do an internship or a service experience in which you use your language skills. As a Spanish major, your Elon career will culminate in the senior colloquium, a challenging course in which faculty assess your achievement of all proficiency goals.
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. One student worked at Staffmark, Inc., helping to screen job applicants by conducting interviews in Spanish. Another worked with the Into the Fields project, assisting children of Latino farm workers in North Carolina. Others have completed internships abroad in Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Students at all levels are encouraged to immerse themselves fully by studying Spanish abroad during winter term or during 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 of Spanish tudents worked with street children in the Dominican Republic and youth centers in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Finally, students can choose to live in the living-learning community, La Casa de Español in Colonnades A, where they can interact on a daily basis in Spanish with other Spanish majors and minors and native speakers, including a visiting faculty-member-in-residence from a Spanish-speaking country. La Casa hosts social and academic events that celebrate Latino/Hispanic culture throughout the year.
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 Foreign Languages, which features a Language Media Center and two lounges where students can interact with each other and faculty in an informal setting.
Spanish majors learn from inspiring faculty. Dr. Ernest Lunsford is a past recipient of Elon’s Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2001 and has led winter term study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Peru. Dr. Donna Van Bodegraven is a past recipient of the Excellence in Service Award from Elon College, The College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Maureen Ihrie taught for 11 years at Kansas State University before joining the Elon faculty in 2001 and is the co-author of two major literary encyclopedias. The faculty also includes Drs. Mayte de Lama, Rebeca Olmedo, Mina García Soormally and Nina Namaste, and lecturers Christine Cotton, April Post and Ketevan Kupatadze.
“Elon’s Spanish professors do a phenomenal job of infusing their love of language into the classroom. Everything that I have done since graduation has revolved around my passion and talents in the Spanish arena.”
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.
There are many exciting career choices available to Spanish majors, including: