STORY BY JESSIE SPANGLER
Before this year, Drake only provided a Spanish certificate. They now offer a Spanish minor that takes 18 hours to complete, along with the option of receiving a certificate in Latin American Studies.
According to Drake’s website, “The new minor builds on an already rigorous program in which graduates test at language proficiency levels equal to or better than students earning minors from other schools.”
But Marc Pinheiro-Cadd, the Director of World Languages, said that the Spanish minor looks better on paper for future employers and helps prospective students choose between schools.
The Spanish minor provides more opportunities in studying language and culture for students.
“Based on lots of conversations with current and prospective students and their parents, they’re looking for majors and minors. The fact that Drake hasn’t had any language majors or minors in a number of years has proven to be a bit of an issue. I think that in some cases, having a Spanish minor will help students decide to come to Drake,” Pinheiro-Cadd said.
The addition of a Spanish minor provides more opportunities for students, especially when it comes to studying abroad.
Spanish classes will have students go into Des Moines and interact with native Spanish speakers to help improve their speech and knowledge of the Latino culture.
Studying abroad isn’t required to achieve a Spanish minor, but is encouraged.
“Getting a major or minor in a language merely by sitting in a classroom for a number of hours is not as useful as actually going to a country where the language is spoken,” Pinheiro-Cadd said.
Along with the new minor comes a redesign of the program.
“The upper level classes in Spanish are being slightly redesigned so that they all have a component of community engagement,” Pinheiro-Cadd said. “Students will be able to go out into the greater Des Moines area and interact with native Spanish speakers in a variety of contexts.”
Students have been happy so far with the fact that a minor in Spanish can now be attained.
“The program is great because it presents students with the opportunity to go above and beyond a concentration. We speak the language 24/7 in class and are able to learn about the culture as well, which is why I love the program so much,” said Ravyn Daniel, a first year.
A new Spanish course has also been added. It is aimed more towards pharmacy and pre-med students, called Spanish for Healthcare Providers.
A Spanish professor and a Pharmacy professor worked together to create the additional course.
The number of pharmacy and pre-med students studying Spanish has started to increase, and the fact that Des Moines and many other places that are becoming more diverse, has proved that knowing Spanish is beneficial.
“A new trend in language teaching is something called ‘Spanish for specific purposes,’” Pinheiro-Cadd said. “It’s getting away from the idea that if you want to study a language everyone has to be super familiar with the literature of that language. It’s getting away from that, and recognizing that students want to have a very specific application for their language skills.”
Learning a different language consists of more than just a new way of communication, but an expanded knowledge of culture. According to Pinheiro-Cadd, learning about cultures improves the way one uses language.
“When you learn another language, you learn more than a set of words that allow you to speak to somebody else,” Pinheiro-Cadd said. “In almost every context, when you learn another language, you have to learn the culture that comes along with in order to use the language effectively.”
Daniel can relate to this as well.
“Spanish is so much more than just a language. It has character, culture, and history that I cannot wait to further explore through this program,” Daniel said.
Adding a Spanish minor to the curriculum helps students easier achieve the global citizenship status that Drake encourages.
“(Part of) Drake’s mission statement, responsible global citizenship, I really think being bilingual contributes to that because you understand other people better, you can speak to them, and you have an idea of why they do the things they do,” Pinheiro-Cadd said.
Spanish is not the only language that has had new additions to the curriculum. More Chinese courses are now being provided as well. The program will allow students to learn from students from China.
“This is a really interesting program in that the Chinese students are trained specifically to teach Chinese to U.S. students,” Pinheiro-Cadd said. “And that’s important because they teach and learn differently in China. Languages, in particular.”
The Chinese students will be coming from Minzu University in Beijing, China and will be around Drake students’ own ages.