Saint Michael's Spanish

There's more than one way to look at the world. Modern Languages majors at St. Mike's often are adventuresome souls with broad interests in literature, history, cuisine, film, cultural customs and the structure of language. As a Spanish major you'll become conversant in the second most widely spoken language in the world (nearly half a billion native speakers). Beyond that practical and marketable skill, immersing yourself in Hispanic culture will give you the valuable insights of a dual perspective on life and the world.

Geography helps us with that. We're a short drive from the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Montreal. That means you'll gain fluency not only from your classes, which emphasize conversation, proper grammar, literature and culture, but also from visiting the theaters, museums and Latin Quarter of a multilingual international urban center. You'll also socialize with our significant cohort of international students and study abroad in Spain or Latin America. You might host a Spanish-themed campus radio show or participate in one of our periodic Spanish Masses at the college chapel. First you'll take a language placement exam to put you at the right starting-point. Then you either can explore Spanish for the first time or deepen an existing familiarity with Spanish-speaking culture. Film, literature, music, food and customs of the Spanish-speaking world all are in the mix for students in this major.

First-year Spanish courses improve your basic language skills and introduce you to the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world as you concurrently build proficiency through applied language components of courses taught in English. This allows you to read and discuss, in Spanish, selected texts and materials pertinent to the subject matter of courses outside the department in a wide variety of disciplines by meeting one extra hour a week with instructors to discuss the texts in Spanish.

Subsequent courses offer further development of intermediate language skills in all areas, usually in the context of Spanish-speaking cultures. Advanced conversation courses at the 300 level really prepare you to live and get along in a Spanish-speaking society on a practical daily basis. Advanced grammar and composition assures that you develop writing skills and consolidate your grammar and vocabulary abilities. The goal is to foster students’ critical reflection and self-correction, thereby increasing their independence in the craft of writing.

Some of your classes will explore the cultures of Spain and the Spanish-speaking Americas. You might study literature at a more advanced level covering different genres and styles and the principal literary movements and authors of Hispanic literature.

Electives also explore cultures of Spanish-speaking countries and regions outside Spain (South America, Latin America).  Advanced literature studies might look at a single author, work or movement, or be of a topical nature.

In the capstone course for majors, you'll use the skills and knowledge gained over the course of your studies on campus and abroad to produce a substantial academic essay written in the language of the major.

Beyond all these possibilities, the Department of Modern Languages also offers other courses taught in English. Study Quebec or Italian Cinema; read Russian Literature or delve into Russian Culture and History; "Topics" courses offer essentially unlimited possibilities. One of the best parts of majoring in Modern Languages is just how personalized your course of study can be under close and attentive mentorship.

Sample Four Year Plan for Spanish Majors*

First Year
Fall Spring
SP 203 Third Semester Spanish  SP 206 Fourth Semester Spanish
First Year Seminar Liberal Studies courses
  Liberal Studies courses     
Fall Spring
SP 308  Advanced Conversation  SP 343  Literary Studies in Spanish 
SP 310 Advanced Communication & Culture Liberal Studies course
Liberal Studies course Elective
  Elective    Elective 
Fall Spring
Study abroad in Spanish Spanish electives
Junior Seminar
Fall Spring
SP 460 Spanish Senior Seminar Spanish electives
Electives Electives

A student placed into either SP 101 or SP 102 may major in the language, too; this would mean more coursework in the corresponding language of study, some of which may be completed abroad.

Spanish majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.  A semester abroad can fulfill the Advanced Conversation requirement.

* For students who enroll in the fall of 2018.

Carolyn Lukens-Olson, PhD

Professor of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature: Spanish

Contact Professor Lukens-Olson

Klein Hall 103
Box 305
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Ph.D., M.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. Ohio University

America Gabriela Ochoa

Instructor of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature: Spanish

Contact Professor Ochoa

Klein Hall
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B.A. from Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
M.A. in Latin American History and Literature, Jesuit University of Rafael Landivar, Guatemala, Central America
Licenciatura (Advanced B.A.) Political Science and International Relations, 2003 
Minor in Political Analysis and Sustainable Development

Areas of expertise  

Literature and politics of Latin America
Historical memory in post-war societies 

Courses I Teach

Spanish 203
Spanish 206
Spanish 310 Advanced Communication and Culture

  • International Relations (policy analysis, foreign service, diplomacy)
  • International Development (NGO, U.S. State Department, or private sector)
  • International Business, Law, or Journalism
  • Global Public Health
  • Refugee Advocacy and Resettlement Services
  • Migrant Justice
  • Immigration Services
  • Library Science
  • Translating and Interpreting
  • Teaching Spanish in the U.S. or at an international school
  • Teaching English in Spanish-speaking countries
  • Peace Corps or Jesuit Volunteer Corps
  • Travel and Tourism Industries
  • Graduate Studies in Spanish literature, linguistics, or second-language acquisition

For more information about career paths and internship opportunities, visit the Careers + Internships page

Study Abroad

The hard part might be deciding which study-abroad experience in a Spanish-speaking culture will best suit your personal interests. One in three Saint Michael's students in general spends a semester or year abroad. As you might guess, the figure is much higher for Modern Languages students. Visit our Study Abroad Page for a full list of the College's Study Abroad locations. 

Study Abroad Politi Scholarships:

A limited number of scholarships are available to support study in countries and programs that the College believes offer optimum learning opportunities. The scholarships are made possible through the Dr. A. Francis Politi International Fund.

Applications for study abroad programs emphasizing experiential learning opportunities (field based research, internships, student teaching, and service learning) or study in a language that is not the student's primary language will be given priority. Grants will range from $1,000 - $1,800. An academic year student can apply for a maximum of $2,000. The scholarships will be applied to the student's accounts.

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