Being able to communicate in a foreign language is a fundamental asset in any profession, from careers in education, translating and interpreting to those in international studies, health, business or law. A minor in Spanish addresses the needs of students who seek the ability to communicate in more than one language to be competitive in their chosen professions.
The study of Spanish language and culture is of special importance in the United States, the country with the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. The Spanish minor offers students the linguistic confidence needed for studying in another country and the benefits of being exposed to other cultures.
Program Learning Outcomes
After completing two years (Intermediate level II) of the foreign language of their choice, students will be able to identify and analyze cultural traits and concepts relevant to the country and communities where the target language is spoken. In addition, they will have developed intermediate writing, reading, listening and oral proficiency in that foreign language, which means that students will:
- Possess listening skills equivalent at least to the intermediate-mid level of the ACTFL Proficiency. Guidelines: Ability to understand main ideas and some facts from interactive exchanges and aural texts;
- Possess speaking skills equivalent at least to the intermediate-mid level of the ACTFL Proficiency. Guidelines: Ability to handle successfully a variety of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations;
- Possess reading skills equivalent at least to the intermediate-mid level of the ACTFL Proficiency. Guidelines: Ability to read consistently with increased understanding simple, connected texts dealing with a variety of basic and social needs;
- Possess writing skills equivalent at least to the intermediate-mid level of the ACTFL Proficiency. Guidelines: Able to meet a number of practical writing needs. They can write short, simple communications, compositions, descriptions, and requests for information in loosely connected texts that are based on personal preferences, daily routines, common events, and other topics related to personal experiences and immediate surroundings; and
- Demonstrate through oral presentations, compositions and other class assignments a reasonable knowledge of the ways of thinking, behavioral practices, and the cultural products of the country and communities where the target language is spoken.
Program Assessment Results
Each year, our program assesses the classroom learning experiences of students to ensure that students are building the necessary skills and knowledge-base in this discipline. The assessments allow our program to engage in continued creative and visionary curriculum and instruction approaches that ensure students are exposed to rigorous undergraduate training. Every discipline has a unique assessment schema and set of student performance benchmarks, reflecting the priorities of the discipline.
From the 2012-2013 program assessment, we focused on the Spanish minor while the Spanish major was under formalization with the university. Here, we were able to understand how well the minors identify common grammatical errors, and major syntactic and morphological issues pertinent to the Spanish language. The student population sampled (N=41) included minors across class levels, 27 seniors, 12 juniors and two sophomores. The students were tested with an quiz outside of coursework.
Additional information about the student population matters for understanding the results. Thirty-nine students were Spanish Heritage Speakers (H). Three students were non Spanish Heritage Speakers (NH). While a certain difference in the results were observed based on student class standing and H vs. NH, it is also important to consider the courses that students completed for the minor. (With the Spanish minor coursework, students were previously not required to complete a regimented set of classes.)
The exam results indicate:
- The majority of seniors and juniors demonstrated proficiency.
- 100 percent of sophomores have a proficient level regarding their understanding of Spanish linguistics.
- The majority of heritage learners demonstrated proficiency.
- The majority of non-heritage demonstrated proficiency.
- 100 percent of seniors and juniors demonstrated proficiency in their understanding of the pragmatic use of language.
As expected, most students who took Spanish Linguistics (SPAN 110) performed much better on some of the exam questions that dealt with syntactic and morphological issues than those students who did not; the percentage of proficient students who took SPAN 110 is almost double that of the students who did not take the course.
Similarly, even though all students demonstrated a proficient understanding of the pragmatic use of language, the percentage of students who received a score of excellent among the students who took SPAN 110 is more than double that of students who did not take the course.
This same sampling of students completed survey questions, providing their feedback on learning common grammatical errors and major syntactic and morphological issues pertinent to the Spanish language. We learned the following:
- Most students feel their understanding of Spanish linguistics and their grammar accuracy when speaking and writing has improved since studying in the minor.
- Most students feel they are able to understand the different uses of language. This result is very positive, especially in the case of the three NH students, who expressed that they are able to understand language functions in different contexts most of the time.
- While a considerable number of students feel their understanding of Spanish linguistics will improve with more activities inside and outside class, there is an even greater number of students who consider that their improvement depends on their personal efforts (attention to instructor’s feedback and more studying).
- A high number of students think more linguistic courses should be added to the Spanish curriculum, which we will be able to accomplish with the Spanish linguistics new hire in the near future.
Student graduates from our program are engaging in graduate studies and careers. A few of these after-college endeavors are listed below. If you have an alumni update to share, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations so we can share your success!
Student graduates from the Spanish minor are studying at the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles; University of Southern California; and Pepperdine University.
From a message sent by a former student now studying in the Spanish Literature master's program at UC Davis: "Sí, gracias a Dios y a la preparación que usted me dio me ha ido bien en los seminarios y con los dos últimos cursos introductorios de español 1 y 2 que les he estado impartiendo a estudiantes de pregrado que quieren aprender a hablar y a escribir el idioma."
Student graduates from the Spanish minor are working in a variety of professional settings including legislative departments, school districts, state agencies and university administration offices.
Last Updated: May 2016