Spanish for Professional Purposes...

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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spanish for the Professions Programs: A "Build It and They Will Come" Scenario

Looking for a way to get more students through a Spanish program while using fewer resources?

Worried about enrollment?

A Spanish for the Professions program could be the answer.

The minor program in Spanish for the Professions at the University of North Carolina started in the fall of 2007 as a way to relieve some of the pressure on the department's limited resources while also meeting high student demand for Spanish classes.

The minor in Spanish for the Professions consists of three core courses, each with two major components and a fourth "allied course"(50% of course content related to Spanish-speaking world) from another department.

Students take a fifth semester Spanish for the Professions course that includes a significant grammar component in addition to the survey of professional areas & practical workplace skills.

The second course is a profession-specific course with a service-learning component that allows students to apply what they are learning in the real world. The profession-specific courses offered at UNC are business, medical, journalism and law (corresponding to the most popular majors among students in the Spanish program at the time the minor was started).

The final core course has a significant research component as students study "La comunidad hispana," focusing on US Hispanic communities.

In the spring of 2006, we spent a lot of time visiting fourth semester classes to promote the minor and recruit students.  By the spring of 2007, we were experiencing such overwhelming demand that we had to turn students away and carefully screen to make sure we were getting even enrollments in the various profession-specific tracks.  The medical track is the only one for which we can never come close to meeting demand and it seems as if this is also a new demographic of students (ie they would not be majoring or minoring in Spanish absent the specialized minor).

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