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Spanish is a heritage language of Louisiana, the second most spoken language of the United States, and one of the three most spoken languages in the world. The Hispanic world has long been a major contributor to international culture and intellectual life. With the international reach of Spanish and its increasing importance locally, the language has become an important part of civic engagement as well as global citizenship. The study of Spanish offers a trans-cultural and transnational perspective on an increasingly fluid world culture and a globalized economy.

Our majors graduate with strong international and domestic opportunities. The knowledge and skills they acquire enable them to gain admission to graduate programs in their field of interest or to pursue careers in areas as diverse as publishing, environmental science, medicine and the arts.

Spanish at UL Lafayette

The major in Spanish at UL Lafayette leads to proficiency in the language as well as a nuanced understanding of the places where it is spoken, and of the many issues relevant to Spanish speakers abroad and in the United States. Our courses engage literature, film, history, critical theory, visual culture, and linguistics. Students develop spoken and written abilities fostering their enjoyment and critical understanding of the Spanish-speaking world. Through the lenses of social history, linguistic, literary and cultural studies, both students and faculty seek to understand the past, present, and emerging realities of the cultures of Latin America, Spain, the Caribbean, and the Latina/o heritage populations within the United States; and their relations with each other and with the world at large.

The basic language courses are followed by intermediate courses in literature, culture, and linguistics. These courses develop language skills and cultural knowledge, and prepare students for advanced coursework in specific areas including translation, medical and juridical Spanish as well as film and media, literature and cultural theory, historical and sociolinguistics, art and politics. There is a track in the major for future secondary school teachers and a series of courses on Spanish for the professions, as well as an undergraduate minor in Spanish. The Spanish faculty participate actively in the interdisciplinary minor in Latin American Studies offered through the College of Liberal Arts.

We engage with the larger university community through co-curricular activities such as film series, lectures, and the weekly conversation hour. There is an active student-run Spanish Club and a chapter of the national Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi. We have study abroad agreements with the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (Mexico), the Universidad de Cantabria and the Universidad de Granada (Spain), among other institutions. We also encourage off-campus study and research through internships, senior projects, and the connections between our faculty members and the nearby Latino/a communities.

Spanish students at UL Lafayette benefit from the intimacy of a department with small classes and familiar faculty and classmates while also enjoying access to the variety and diversity of a larger university community. As a student here you will have many opportunities to make friends with people who share your interests, and work with faculty who will help you plan your future, and work with you on projects that fit your plans.

Spanish in Louisiana

Louisiana’s connections to both Spain and Spanish America are longstanding. The trails of sixteenth century Spanish explorers Cabeza de Vaca and de Soto pass nearby. When Louisiana was a Spanish colony in the eighteenth century, it was part of the Captaincy of Cuba and had strong governmental and trade connections with the Caribbean. The UL Lafayette library holds a significant collection of documents from this period, when Spaniards from the Canary Islands migrated to St. Bernard Parish and the nearby city of New Iberia was founded by a group of Spaniards from Málaga. Spanish has been spoken in Louisiana since that time, and Louisiana has its own historical dialects of Spanish. Spanish and Spanish-derived surnames like Domingue (Domínguez), Miguez, Pérez, Rodrigue (Rodríguez), Romero and Segura are still common in Acadiana.

The nineteenth century saw the arrival of many Spanish and Spanish American exiles and emigrés. The first Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, El Misisipi, was published in New Orleans. Writers and statesmen like the Cubans Cirilo Villaverde and José Martí and the Mexican Benito Juárez spent time here, and New Orleans was the principal United States port for South America and the Caribbean through much of the twentieth century. Our connections to our Southern neighbors can be seen in our cuisine—red beans and rice, jambalaya—and in a great deal of music.

New Orleans’ Cuban and Honduran communities have been well established since the 19th century, and these cultural influences can be seen in Acadiana as well. From the 1980s forward, immigration from Mexico and Central America to all of Louisiana has been growing. These historical ties, and cultural and commercial bonds both ongoing and new, give a living context for the study of Spanish.