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Some 500 years ago, Europeans introduced the new languages, customs, and technologies to the Americas and
Spanish Language and Culture Studies
An Evolved Discipline
Spanish language and culture studies is not the narrow discipline of yesteryear. Domestically, the Hispanic demographic plays an increasing role in policy and politics while globally the Hispanic demographic continues to confound geopolitical expectations. Spanish language and culture studies is no longer the mere practice of learning a monetizable trade skill but rather a multidisciplinary stage of academic inquiry, sociopolitical participation, and commercial engagement. Students who choose to study Spanish no longer desire merely to learn the language but to wed language competency to other studies.
A Global Paradigm
Spanish language and culture is a global force and one of the most-spoken languages. There are roughly 480 million native speakers of Spanish and 577 million speakers of Spanish worldwide.* Spanish is an official language of twenty-one sovereign states, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and Mercosur.
A Domestic Phenomenon
Spanish language and culture is a domestic reality and has been for decades. In 1987, the “La Bamba” (as recorded by Los Lobos) become the first Spanish-language song to rank #1 on United States music charts. Prior to this in 1959, Ritchie Valens’ version reached #22. As of 2010, roughly 37 million people (13% of the US population) ages five and older spoke Spanish in the home in the United States* with regional densities in the American Southwest, South, and Southeast reaching still higher densities. Bilingual applicants can expect preferential hiring consideration and can typically expect signing incentives and/or additional compensation. Once hired, a bilingual employee can expect enhanced promotability and easier transfers within the organization. One southeast bank, for example, offers bilingual employees a renewable annual incentive of more than $3,000. In professional tracks such as law and medicine, practitioners easily corner a limitless market of clientele.
An Encompassing Inquiry
Spanish language and culture is ripe for academic inquiry. While a typical undergraduate track starts with fourteen hours of language acquisition (the same requirement as for any B.A.), the path quickly ascends to literature surveys, history studies, linguistic theory, Latin-American seminars, public-sector internships, and studies abroad. The “harder” sciences and applied disciplines offer many untapped avenues of inquiry within (to name just a few) journalism, economics, sociology, public heath, political science, civil engineering, and geology.