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Program Objectives

Achieve sufficient proficiency in the language to converse with educated native speakers on a level that allows both linguistic exchanges and, to a lesser extent, metalinguistic exchanges (that is, discussion about the language itself). MAHS graduates will develop "Advanced Mid" levels in those skills on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) scale in order to earn their degree, whereas our BA/BS students must demonstrate an "Intermediate High" level. On the other commonly used proficiency scale, the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR, formerly FSI) scale used for government employment, this would correspond to an increase from the "Limited Working Proficiency" or S-2 level to the S-3 or "Professional Working Proficiency" level, defined as follows:

BA/BS: Limited Working Proficiency:

  • able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements
  • can handle with confidence, but not with facility, most social situations including introductions and casual conversations about current events, as well as work, family, and autobiographical information
  • can handle limited work requirements, needing help in handling any complications or difficulties; can get the gist of most conversations on non-technical subjects (i.e. topics which require no specialized knowledge), and has a speaking vocabulary sufficient to respond simply with some circumlocutions
  • has an accent which, though often quite faulty, is intelligible
  • can usually handle elementary constructions quite accurately but does not have thorough or confident control of the grammar.

MAHS: Professional Working Proficiency:

  • able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social, and professional topics
  • can discuss particular interests and special fields of competence with reasonable ease
  • has comprehension which is quite complete for a normal rate of speech
  • has a general vocabulary which is broad enough that he or she rarely has to grope for a word
  • has an accent which may be obviously foreign; has a good control of grammar; and whose errors virtually never interfere with understanding and rarely disturb the native speaker.

The program defines transcultural understanding as the ability to comprehend and analyze discourse-the cultural narratives that appear in every kind of oral and written expressive form-from essays, fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, humor, advertising, political rhetoric, and legal documents to performance, visual forms, and music. To read a cultural narrative a student should possess the following transcultural skills:

  • Recognize and analyze intra- and inter-linguistic diversity
  • Achieve enough proficiency in the language to converse with educated native speakers on a level that allows both linguistic exchanges and, to a lesser extent, metalinguistic exchanges (that is, discussion about the language itself).
  • Have knowledge of and be able to discuss some of the specific metaphors and key terms that inform Hispanic culture: e.g., "raza" in Latino culture, the "Special Period" in Cuba, "los desaparecidos" in Argentina, "the two Spains."
  • Have some understanding of how a particular background reality is reestablished on a daily basis through discourses such as:
    • the mass media
    • literary and artistic works as projection and investigation of a nation's self-understanding
    • the social and historical narratives in literary texts, artistic works, the legal system, the political system, the educational system, the economic system, and other social systems
    • stereotypes of both self and others, as they are developed through texts
    • symbols or sites of memory in the broadest sense, including buildings, historical figures, popular heroes, monuments, culture-specific products, literary and artistic canons, landscapes
    • major competing traditions such as views of the nation that are secularist or religious historiography

Sample of Student Learning Outcomes

Outcome 1: Professional Literacy

Students will exhibit:

  • Ability to conduct original research in the fields of Hispanic Linguistics and/or Literature(s), using appropriate methods of documentation and employing a variety of platforms (print, online, and digital media).
  • Familiarity with scholarly and professional practices for gathering and presenting information through participation in conferences, publication in peer-reviewed journals, and, in general, the ability to produce writing for a professional audience.

Outcome 2: Linguistic Proficiency

Student will demonstrate:

  • Advanced-Mid level of language proficiency in Spanish according to the standards developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Outcome 3: Cultural Competence

Students will demonstrate:

  • An in-depth and multidisciplinary knowledge of Hispanic societies and their cultural products regardless of geographical and chronological divisions.
  • Translingual and transcultural competence by comparing and contrasting their native linguistic and cultural assumptions with those of the Spanish-speaking world

Outcome 4: Engaged Learning

Students will demonstrate:

  • Understanding of the main historical, social, and academic events that spurred recent growth in community-engaged scholarship.
  • Proper implementation of methods and procedures for designing an empirical research study, including approval by the Institutional Review Board.
  • Initiation of a community-based research partnership with the Hispanic/ Latino population in eastern North Carolina.