Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies


Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies contributes to the academic and professional development of its students by developing their skills in critical thinking and writing as well as honing their linguistic expertise. As Italian film director Federico Fellini once said, a different language is a different vision of life. Learning a new language or improving proficiency in a language learned at home or in school gives students a deeper understanding of other cultures and their literary traditions as well as cognitive and professional advantages. Our classes help students become critical, independent thinkers by teaching them to interpret literary and visual texts and showing them how to analyze language using the theoretical approaches and methods of linguistics.  We also offer a new minor in Latin American Studies.

 In conjunction with the Department of Urban Education, we help students interested in teaching become certified to teach world languages as they complete their majors in Spanish or Portuguese. Many of our majors complete a second major in a wide variety of departments, including Business, Criminal Justice, English, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Nursing and Pre-Medicine, Psychology, Social Work, and Visual and Performing Arts, where knowledge of a foreign language is increasingly important for the development of both local and global connections.  According to recent research, learning a second language as an adult sharpens cognitive skills correlated with academic success. Language study also improves employment prospects in a global economy; a study by Georgetown University found that foreign language majors had the lowest rate of unemployment of any field in the humanities.   

Explore our website to learn more about what the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies has to offer you. Details on members of the faculty - including CVs, as well as courses taught, can be accessed under the Faculty and Staff section. All courses can be found under the Undergraduate Programs section. Department-related activities can be found under the News and Events section. For more information about the program in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies, visit the Camões Institute Center section. In addition to Spanish and Portuguese, we offer classes in several other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. To learn more about the faculty members teaching these languages, visit the Faculty and Staff section.

News & Announcements

  • Please join us for our Spring 2014 colloquia:

    Dr. Elisabeth Austin (Virginia Tech): "Science and Monstrosity in 19th Century Spanish American Literature"

    February 26th, 2014 from 2:30-4PM in 100 Conklin Hall

    Dr. Edgar Illas (University of Indiana, Bloomington): "Thinking Barcelona: Ideologies of a Global City"

    March 26th, 2014 from 2:30-4PM in the Dana Room (4th floor of Dana Library)


    This semester there is a "Language Exchange - Conversation Board" in the Department of Spanish and 

    Portuguese Studies.
    This Language Exchange has been started as a way to help students connect with other students, 
    in order to practice their language skills.   
    All a student needs to do is: stop by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies
    and give their name and contact information, and let us know what language they are looking 
    to improve upon/practice. We will then post their name and contact information on the board.   
    Example: Mary wants to improve her Spanish fluency and wants to find a native
    Spanish speaker to practice with. We will post her name and her contact
    information, and state that Mary is looking to practice her Spanish speaking skills
    and is able to help someone with their English. Thus the "Language Exchange."
    Even if a person does not want to have their own name posted, they can at least pass
    by and see what the current postings are on the board.
    The board is conveniently located just outside the center stairwell, at the top of
    the fourth floor of Conklin Hall. Once you come out of the stairwell, it is to your
    Look at our website, under the Center for Modern Languages section, to
    see the list of students that have registered for this Language Exchange, and the language
    they want to practice.  
    Please mention this to your students and friends. Remember that a student must stop by 
    the Department of Spanish and Portugues if they are interested in having their name posted.
    For more information, feel free to contact Laura Zuiderveld at