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 Pathways

The following graphic illustrates students’ pathways through the Department’s course offerings before and after study away.


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 knowledge.

Level 3

At this point, students will declare the major and are encouraged to study away.

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

Spanish 301
Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World. Gateway course to the major and study away.

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 creative work.