Spanish Language Program

The Spanish Language Program at Amherst College develops students’ use of the Spanish language as a tool for communication in a variety of settings ranging from the colloquial to the academic, and as a way to engage more fully with the world around them. We do this by working with authentic cultural and literary texts from the Spanish-speaking world, starting in the first semester of the program.

Classroom time is devoted to active discussions, the development of culturally-relevant projects, research and writing in the target language, and oral presentations, among other activities. By the end of the fourth semester, students can expect to have reached the Advanced Low level of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) assessment for Spanish, and be ready to proceed to SPAN 301 (Introduction to Literary and Cultural Studies) or study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.

Spanish Course Route

The following graphic illustrates students’ route through the Department’s course offerings before and after studying abroad.

A flow chart showing the four levels of courses for Spanish majors

Level 1

Spanish 101 and Spanish 102
Cover the fundamentals of Spanish language and the cultures of the countries where it is spoken.

Level 2

Spanish 201, Spanish 202 and Spanish 205
Refine Spanish language skills and cultural knowldge.

Level 3

At this point, students will declare the major.

We expect all Spanish majors to spend a semester or a full year in an immersive study abroad program where they have the possibility to enroll in courses at a local university, and where they live with a host family or in another similarly-immersive housing arrangement where only Spanish is spoken. Because of the pandemic, during AY 2020-2021 and AY 2021-2022, we support rather than expect all Spanish majors to spend a semester or a full year in an immersive study abroad program.  Students may choose from a list of pre-approved study abroad programs, or they may submit a petition for an alternate program to the Department. Up to three courses taken at an approved program and taught in Spanish may be counted for the major.

After returing from abroad, students will move to Level 4 courses.

Spanish 301
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Studies. Gateway course to the major and study abroad.

Spanish 302–Spanish 399
Courses to hone advanced-level skills in Spanish through close readings of a wide range of literary and cultural texts from Spain, Latin America and Latinx Studies.

Level 4

Spanish 400–Spanish 499
Seminars to refine and polish written and spoken Spanish through independent research, the critical analysis of texts, sustained inquiry of a topic, public engagement and creatibe work.