Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world. In 2015, approximately 6.7% of the world’s population spoke Spanish (compared with Russian: 2.2%, French: 1.1%, and German: 1.1%). It is estimated that by the year 2030, 7.5% of the world’s population will speak Spanish. Any picture of the United States would be incomplete without an understanding of the Spanish language and the cultures of Latin America and Spain. The United States has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, second only to Mexico. A study done by Spain’s Instituto Cervantes estimates that by the year 2050, the United States will have become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
The Spanish department at Carleton strives to engage students with both the Spanish language and the cultures of Spain and Latin America in a variety of ways. In addition to helping students cultivate critical thinking, analytical, communication and writing skills, the department provides students with opportunities to grow bi-culturally.
The department offers a wide array of courses taught by faculty who are experts in their fields. Students can take classes in Spanish and Latin American literature that range from more traditional works like Cervantes’ Don Quijote to the Latin American detective novel or the Contemporary Spanish film essay. There are classes on poetry, film, art history, history, and contemporary culture. Many classes draw on other disciplines such as Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Theater.
All students are encouraged to study abroad with our programs in Madrid (every fall) with a Carleton professor. Many students go abroad more than once. The Madrid program is aimed at students who have fulfilled the language requirement and would like to fine-tune their language skills. There are also opportunities for service-learning in the community, and part of 204 actually includes going into the Northfield public schools to enrich students’ understanding of course material by integrating academic study with public service.
If you are looking for some informal practice to keep up with your Spanish, each year, there is a Spanish Language Associate (LA), typically from either Spain or Peru, who organizes cultural activities and biweekly Spanish conversation tables during lunch. The department also participates in Carleton’s International Film Forum, presenting Spanish and Latin American films, and brings film directors and authors to campus to give workshops. We strongly encourage students — majors, minors and non-majors alike — to participate in the many activities we organize.
For those students who are looking for work on campus while practicing Spanish, we encourage them to apply for a position in the Spanish department. Students can work as a Research Assistant to a specific professor, as Teaching Assistants for beginning level Spanish classes, or as tutors to more advanced students.
Our students are as diverse as our faculty. Many of our alumni have gone on to pursue careers in medicine, education, literature, law, translation, international business, and in the non-profit sector. Our students have been Fulbright recipients and have done internships abroad (specifically in Peru and in Spain through departmental connections).