by Barbara Castrovillo Seasholtz
students are saying Sí to Concordias Spanish program.
Spanish has grown both in the number of program students and in
course enrolment, said Associate Professor Catherine Vallejo. She
is chair of the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics,
which houses the Spanish unit.
In only five years, Spanish program students have increased from 231 to
321. About 1,500 students in total took introductory Spanish courses last
Spanish has just surpassed English as the leading native language in the
world after Mandarin. Some 400 million people in 22 countries speak Spanish.
Locally, Spanish will soon overtake Italian as the third most spoken language
These numbers translate into some exciting career opportunities for graduates,
such as translation, social work and teaching, in jobs both here and abroad.
Although improving language proficiency plays a big role in the program,
students are also exposed to many aspects of Hispanic history and culture.
There are also special events, like a recent appearance by a Peruvian
performance artist and a talk by a Chilean poet and human rights activist.
The complement of full-time faculty members has recently increased, and
Dr. Vallejo provided an introduction to show the breadth of their expertise.
José Antonio Gimenez-Mico, like Lady Rojas and Catherine
Vallejo, is the holder of a three-year research grant from SSHRC,
she said in an e-mail.
He is carrying out a comparative study of Canadian and Mexican identity
discourse at the beginning of the 20th century. He usually teaches a course
on Issues in Hispanic civilization, compulsory for most majors, which
includes Web searches in Spanish-American sites and high-tech presentations.
Bradley Nelson is working on emblematic representations in Golden
Age Spain and the constitution of the Spanish national identity in the
16th and 17th centuries. He has succeeded in making the course on the
history of Spanish language fun! Since this is also a compulsory course
for most majors, I think they are very grateful.
Hugh Hazelton will be much in demand as an expert in translation.
There is great interest on the part of students in this field. He is currently
working on a second PhD, in avant-garde Argentinian literature of the
early 20th century.
Luis Ochoa is one of the few people (perhaps the only one in Canada)
to have taken an MA degree specializing in the teaching of Spanish to
speakers of other languages and this after graduating with Honours
from our own program and taking a regular MA at McGill.
Lady Rojas-Trempe works on contemporary Mexican and Peruvian writers.
She personally knows many of them, and we have been able to invite some
of them to speak to our students.
As for Dr. Vallejo herself, she is interested in womens issues,
especially in 19th-century Spanish Caribbean literature and culture, and
maintains her work on the history and theory of the Spanish-American short
We are in the process of hiring a seventh person, to work in contemporary
Peninsular Spanish literature and culture, who would complement our interests
and share our critical perspectives.
Dr. Vallejo said that the programs students are regularly accepted
into graduate programs in Europe and the U.S., but she would like to see
a graduate program in Spanish at Concordia within the next five years.