Spanish for Professional Purposes...

...for teachers and students who see the need for Spanish language and Hispanic cultures knowledge in professional contexts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spanish for the Professions: Past, Present and Future


Over the course of 8 semesters the Department of Romance Languages at UNC-CH has rolled out 6 new courses to accommodate students in the new minor program in Spanish for the Professions.  Prior to fall 2007, the only course already in existence was the Business Spanish course (SPAN 320).

The program has been successful in accommodating the specific needs of relatively large numbers of students from professional schools (business, journalism, etc.) who were previously taking Hispanic studies courses in the department.

It took five semesters to roll out all the courses and adjust for student demand for the four different professional tracks: business, law, journalism and medicine.


This semester the focus has turned to better articulated the courses in the minor so that students can transition more smoothly through the three-semester sequence of courses.

To better prepare students for the rigors content-based profession-specific courses the first course, Spanish for the Professions (SPAN 265) is being taught with a significant grammar component for the first time this semester. The text "Manual de gramática" by Iguina and Dozier has been added to the curriculum.

To better prepare students for the research component of the third and final course in the minor, La comunidad hispana (SPAN 335), a research project has been added to Spanish for the Professions this semester.  Students must identify a professional field and geographic region (presumably aligned with their personal goals). Then they research the Latino demographics of that region, gather existing Spanish-language resources for clients and practitioners in that field, write an analytic essay comparing and contrasting the information they found so that they can identify an unmet need that they could potentially fill. That unmet need is their final presentation--presented in a poster session format as would be the norm at a professional conference.

To better integrate the service-learning component into the profession-specific courses (business, medical, law and journalism), we have added the only Spanish-language textbook on community service learning, Comunidades by Annie Abbott to those curricula.


The minor will offer the entire minor--medical track only--in Summer School for the first time in 2011. This is to accommodate the exceedingly high demand for the medical track.

Aside from a few isolated courses (Spanish for the Professions in Seville, business in Madrid, medical in Guadalajara and Santiago de Chile), it is hard for students to complete minor courses abroad.  In the future, we would like to collaborate with UNC's Study Abroad office to offer more of the minor courses abroad in order to encourage more students in the minor to participate in immersion experiences.

The service-learning component of the minor continues to evolve as we seek to collaborate with organizations who can maximally use students Spanish-language and Hispanic cultures skills while providing students with opportunities to practice.  We strive to develop long-term collaborations that cross semesters and student groups, but it is always a challenge to complete meaningful community projects in semester-long chunks of time given the resources community partners, students, and professors possess.

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