The Cal Poly Pomona B.A. in Spanish
Meaning of the Spanish B.A.
The Spanish B.A. prepares students for leadership and professions in a changing multicultural and plurilingual world through a curriculum that enhances students’ ability to read analytically, think critically, and write clearly in dealing with literature, linguistics and culture of the Spanish-speaking world. The CPP Spanish degree is distinct in that it offers courses specially designed to address the linguistic needs of both Spanish heritage speakers and non-Spanish heritage speakers, and in that it offers a strong linguistics component and a cross-linguistic approach that set this program apart from other Spanish programs that are almost exclusively literature-oriented. The specific balance of courses in linguistics, literature and civilization, as well as service-learning and undergraduate research opportunities, prepares students well for an array of Spanish language-related professions as well as postgraduate coursework.
In alignment with the university’s learn-by-doing philosophy, we offer service-learning courses in which students have the opportunity to teach children in bilingual programs or interpret Spanish-English in a legal setting. In line with the Teacher-Scholar philosophy, students collaborate with faculty in research and pedagogical projects. Finally, our program strongly embraces diversity through understanding and appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity.
Our students arrive with an intermediate level of Spanish language proficiency, from their Spanish-speaking heritage and/or from the study of the language in a school setting, and many of them have passed the AP exam in high school, as our 2016 exit survey indicates. Our program allows students to increase this intermediate level of language proficiency to an advanced-high level in all for skills (based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines), and prepares them with the metalinguistic skills, cross-linguistic understanding, and cross-cultural awareness necessary to pursue a career in translation and interpretation. Also, our program is accredited by the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), and our graduates are ready to begin the Spanish Teaching Credential Program upon graduation. The program’s academic rigor also allows students to pursue a postgraduate degree. Indeed, many of our graduates work in either interpretation or teaching fields, and some of them pursue a M.A. and/or Ph.D. degree:
Our curriculum balances language proficiency, linguistics, literature, and culture courses. It also includes service-learning courses that prepare students to function effectively in different cultural and professional contexts, and many courses require observation in professional settings. Most of our courses include a research component, and we offer many opportunities for students to attend or present their research at conferences. The required English linguistics support courses enhance cross-linguistic (Spanish-English) and metalinguistic understanding.
Quality of the Spanish B.A.
The Spanish degree prepares students for a variety of professional settings. At the end of the program, students must be able to communicate orally and in writing in Spanish in a variety of topics and settings and for different purposes at the ACTFL advanced-high proficiency level. Students must also be able to read critically, interpret analytically, and write coherently about literatures produced in Spanish and about fundamental principles of the Spanish language. Finally, students must demonstrate deep understanding and appreciation of the cultural values of Spanish-speaking peoples.
SPN intermediate and advanced language proficiency courses increase students’ language oral and written proficiency while introducing them to the use of metalinguistic tools to approach language study. Students are required to take the two intermediate language courses before taking 300-400 level courses, so that language proficiency is not an obstacle to succeed in more content-oriented courses. SPN linguistics courses increase students’ understanding of language as a system, its internal variation, and the role of language in society and the professions. The applied courses (SPN 401, 451 and 458) are recommended to be taken after courses covering the foundational linguistics areas (SPN 370, 371, and 450). SPN literature and civilization courses increase students understanding of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world through art and architecture, literature, societal perspectives, history, etc. The two survey literature courses (at 300-level) are recommended before the more theme- or genre-oriented 400-level courses. English support courses enhance students’ metalinguistic knowledge as well as their ability to make cross-linguistic connections between English and Spanish. Finally, two culminating experience courses allow students to integrate all competencies and demonstrate their mastery in the form of a research project (Capstone) and in professional settings (service-learning).
In addition to the specific skills targeted in each curriculum component, every course in the curriculum provides opportunities to increase oral, listening, reading and writing proficiency through the study of linguistics, culture, and literature, as well as to strengthen students’ understanding and appreciation of the values of Spanish-speaking peoples through the study of the political, religious, social, economic, and educational systems and institutions in the Spanish-speaking nations and the analysis of social, ethnic and linguistic diversity, the explicitly drawn connections with other disciplines, and the engagement with multilingual communities.
The course sequence requirements and recommendations, as well the specific role of each component in the overall program, are given during the annual mandatory advising session, as well as in the “Survival Tips for Spanish majors”. In addition, students are encouraged to see an advisor, who directs the student through an individualized path.
Integrity of the Spanish B.A.
The department assesses its progress in reaching its goals at two distinct points: core coursework and the senior capstone. We assess students’ progress within our core courses, through questions embedded in our tests and written and oral assignments and/or through separate assessment activities that assess specific aspects of our program. These are then viewed in relation to students’ performance in the senior capstone experience. The capstone asks students to produce an extensive writing portfolio that combines previously-written work, revised materials, new scholarship, and a reflective essay that ties them together. Students also do a formal oral presentation, in which we assess their oral communication skills.
The assessment of the Senior Capstone’s portfolios and oral presentations is done through a rubric that measures to what extent the program has achieved its learning outcomes at the end of the program. Students in the culminating capstone course are given anonymous exit questionnaires that address a number of assessment points. All of these materials are reviewed annually by the T-TT Spanish Faculty. Some changes that have been implemented as a result of examination of assessment are the creation of a service-learning course (S’15 and S‘16) and the piloting of a Spanish Internship course (F‘16) as 499, to better address students’ professional preparation. In F‘16, one of the new post-conversion courses, Spanish Cinema, was piloted as 499. We also implemented an innovative teaching approach to two courses with the support of SPICE grants (254: Intermediate Spanish Conversation and SPN 450: Spanish Syntax).
Student Learning Outcomes
- Oral communication: Students will communicate orally in Spanish in real-life situations at the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) advanced high proficiency level about a variety of general as well as discipline-related topics.
- Written communication: Students will communicate in writing in Spanish at the ACTFL advanced high proficiency level about a variety of general as well as discipline-related topics with minimal errors in grammar, spelling, and the mechanics of writing.
- Critical reading of literary and cultural texts: Students will (a) contextualize a variety of literary and cultural texts produced in Spanish within their time periods and countries and (b) critique literary and cultural texts using current critical language.
- Metalinguistic awareness and knowledge: Students will (a) apply the fundamental principles of the Spanish language structure, language use, and first and second language acquisition and learning and (b) analyze the different subsystems of the Spanish language.
- Appreciation of culture: Students willrecognize the value of linguistic, social, and cultural diversity in the Spanish-speaking world, both at a local and a global level.