Spanish: What to Expect
Spanish has become the second language of the United States with more than 20 million of the country’s residents speaking it in their everyday lives. The Spanish major at the University of South Carolina prepares students with a working proficiency in practical communicative skills in Spanish and familiarity with the cultures in which it is spoken. As a Spanish major, you will learn to think critically and express yourself effectively in standard Spanish. You will also gain knowledge of the major literary periods, movements, and writers of Spanish and Spanish-American literature, culture, and civilization. With small class sizes and all courses taught in Spanish, you will engage in intense communicative interactions with your professors. You may also choose to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country to strengthen your skills in Spanish language and enhance your academic experience while at the University.
The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish:
- Advanced Spanish Language I and II
- Spanish for Heritage Speakers
- Business Spanish
- Spanish Language Study Abroad
- Topics in Hispanic Cultures and Literatures
- Spanish Civilization
- Contemporary Spain
- Senior Seminar
- Reading Hispanic Texts
- Latin American Civilization
- Spanish Literature or Spanish American Literature
On average, there is a 20 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.
Enhancing your Experience
Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. The Spanish major offers two summer programs. You can travel to Spain during Summer I or Costa Rica in Summer II. You will spend four weeks taking courses in Spanish language and Spanish culture at a local institution and one week traveling around the country. You will receive six elective credits for your major in Spanish. You will live with a local family which will provide you with very valuable experience in the development of your language skills and will help you better understand the culture. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Website to learn about additional opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Spanish major, you can join Sigma Delta Pi which will allow you to interact among students interested in the study of Spanish language and Hispanic cultures. Sigma Delta Pi also has fellowships for which students can apply. You can also find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates go on to obtain a Masters or Ph.D. in Spanish, Hispanic Literatures and Cultures, or Hispanic Studies. Others may pursue a Ph.D. in comparative literature or a Ph.D. in Linguistics.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. Spanish majors can compete for the Kyrl Leighton-Faxford de Gravelines Scholarship, which is awarded to students who demonstrate a sincere desire to teach foreign language as a career as evidenced by a statement from the candidate and recommendations of teachers. The Department of Language, Literatures & Cultures offers additional scholarships each year.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Upper-classmen may choose to apply to live in the Spanish House. The Spanish House provides cultural immersion experiences without going overseas, or as preparation for study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. As a resident of the Spanish House, you will gain international exposure, leadership opportunities, and valuable social interactions.
Internship and Research Opportunities
Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market. Students in the Undergraduate Foreign Language Teacher Certification Program in Spanish get hands-on experience through supervised teacher-training.
Spanish and International Studies major Vessi Radieva transferred to the University of South Carolina her sophomore year because of its challenging Spanish program. “I enjoy every single one of my classes,” she said. “The professors are definitely here for their students. I feel like I know the entire Spanish faculty at USC.” Vessi got involved as soon as she set foot on campus by landing a position as an office assistant in the Walker Institute for International and Areas Studies at USC. During the summer, Vessi helped in planning the Rule of Law Conference that was hosted by the University. It catered to national and military officials interested in establishing rule of law in conflict areas such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Vessi also helps schedule and accommodate future speakers, coordinates events with the Department of Political Sciences among others, and assists in a variety of events. Vessi has learned a lot during her experience and has enjoyed her time with the Walker Institute. “I love working at the Walker Institute because every day is something different,” she said. “The most important thing I have learned while being at the office is to remain flexible and be able to adapt quickly.” Vessi had previous study abroad experiences in both Spain and Canada. She offers great advice for current students. “Throughout my experiences and my numerous endeavors, I feel the most important skill to learn is to know how much you can handle,” she said. “It is okay to say no when your plate is already full. Let your supervisor or advisor know that at the moment, you cannot handle an additional task. Also, remember to enjoy yourself! Take a minute to stand back and admire your achievement!”
Spanish majors have a variety of career opportunities following graduation. Many Spanish majors pursue careers in international business, education, foreign service, communication, travel and tourism, and translating and interpreting.
Following graduation, 2009 graduate and Spanish major, Amy Petrocy packed her bags and headed to Guatemala to put her USC degree to use. Amy is a Health Educator and long-term volunteer at Colegio Bethesda in Tejutla, San Marcos, Guatemala. The summer after graduating, Amy went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala and realized she had found a great opportunity. “I fell in love with the town and not only saw the immense need for help, but also the great potential,” she said. Amy currently teaches health classes at an elementary school and covers topics such as hand washing, good groups, dental health, and exercise. “After class, the kids then go and brush their teeth, and I supervise, because they get a little crazy with the bubble gum flavored toothpaste I bring for them to use,” Amy said. In the afternoon, Amy goes on house visits with the families of her students. She interviews the family and does a socio-economic study of their situation. She plans to use this information as a basis for a scholarship program she is starting in connection with a non-profit organization in the United States.
Her time in Guatemala, has provided Amy with a variety of unique opportunities. “The entire experience of being completely immersed in a different culture has been such a unique experience. I’ve gotten the chance to become part of the community and learn about their culture and customs. Despite living in difficult situations and lacking many basic material things, these people have taught me about true happiness and real strength,” Amy said. The courses she took at USC helped Amy prepare for her position in Guatemala. USC offers a number of Spanish courses that are geared toward health professionals. “Not only did I really enjoy these classes, but they helped to prepare me for many of the situations I have encountered in my work,” Amy said. While at USC, Amy had the opportunity to get hands-on experience through volunteering with the local Hispanic population at various hospitals and clinics and interning with Student Action with Farmworkers. She also worked with migrant workers at a clinic in Beaufort, S.C. Amy encourages current Spanish majors to “Go and see the world. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and really immerse yourself in another culture. It’s the best way to learn.”
About the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina focuses on the teaching of foreign languages, their associated literatures, and global culture. Students learn from native speakers, benefit from innovative web based programs where they interact directly with their peers in other countries, and study with professors who have written the books they use in courses. The department offers undergraduate majors in Classics, Comparative Literature, French, Germany, Russian, and Spanish. Undergraduate Foreign Language Teaching Certification Program is also offered in French, German, Latin and Spanish. The department is home to internationally known scholars in language acquisition, children’s literature, Chinese, Classics, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is one of the largest and most active in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Points of Pride
- The Comparative Literature Faculty is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity.
- The department is home of the Confucius Institute, a center for the study and teaching of Chinese language and culture affiliated with the Beijing Language Cultural University.
- Russian major William Brown was recently award a prestigious Boren Scholarship.
- Professor Nicholas Vazsonyi in German is an internationally renowned Wagner scholar who has lectured at the Kennedy Center and whose recent book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.