Spanish Language and Cultures

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Spanish Language and Cultures major students cannot minor in Spanish Language and Cultures.

Students in the Spanish Language and Cultures major develop cultural competence needed to compete in an increasingly diverse world.

Developed using the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) guidelines, our program offers practical skills-based language classes and a strong emphasis on contemporary Latin American culture.

Fields where Spanish Language and Cultures majors excel include translation/interpretation, education, government, public health, social work, community services, banking, international business, communication and media groups, law, insurance, the travel industry or any other field where the rapidly growing Latino community is involved. 

Spanish Language and Cultures prerequisites

For acceptance into the major, you must demonstrate, through a placement exam or coursework, proficiency at the 300-level in the Spanish language. Students interested in pursuing a Spanish Language and Cultures major are strongly encouraged to take a variety of interdisciplinary courses dealing with Spanish and Latin American culture in preparation for the major.

Take the Webcape Exam!

Language Placement Exam

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences uses WebCAPE, an online placement exam to determine Spanish language placement.

Helpful definitions

  • Language proficiency: A demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in a language other than English.

  • Language placement: An evaluation of language skill that recommends a starting language course.

What you need to know about language testing at UW Tacoma

There are two options for Spanish language testing on campus. Please review the options carefully. There are distinct differences between the two and how they may be used to meet requirements.

  1. Language placement exam (WebCAPE) - Offered online through IAS. The cost is $10 and paid at the time you take the test. Your score is used to evaluate your level and place you in the appropriate class. No credit or grade is attached to this exam. It is not proctored and can be taken whenever you like. Because it is used to place you in a language class, it is very important that the test results reflect your true ability. If you use outside resources, translation programs or get help from another person, your test results will be skewed, and you may be placed in a class that is above your level. This will not benefit you in any way, and can work against you if you place into a class that is too difficult for you. The placement exam is appropriate for students wanting to take language classes at the 100-300 level.

    ** Once you take the exam, your placement will be shown on the screen. You will need to submit an  enrollment request for the appropriate Spanish course. Include a screen shot of your placement results with your enrollment request. SIAS advisors will verify your course placement from the WebCAPE scores and directly register you for the course.

  2. Spanish language proficiency exam (SP100A) - Offered in a proctored environment through the Office of Undergraduate Education. The cost is $25 and registration and payment online is required prior to taking the test. This proctored exam tests your proficiency in the Spanish language and may be used to meet the university's world language requirement. No credit or grade is attached to this exam. Your score will be recorded in your official records and show that you meet the basic foreign language proficiency requirement for the university. If you do not meet the language proficiency requirement, this exam will serve as a placement exam to determine if you need TSPAN 101 or 102.

To learn more about the world language university requirement and how it applies to native language speakers, please visit the Admissions page.

Tips from our language instructors about taking this test

  • Exam questions are generated randomly, and they range from beginning to advanced level. Beginners will see items far above their level of proficiency on the exam and shouldn't worry about them. Answer what you can, and skip the ones you don't know. DO NOT quit at the first difficult question.

  • Questions don't follow a logically sequenced order (easy to middle to high level). They are totally random, and a difficult question might appear before an easy one. This is why it's important for you not to quit mid-test. There may be other questions near the end that are easier that you could answer. If you end the test as soon as a hard question appears, the score will not be accurate.

  • The goal of the test is not to get a perfect score and answer all the questions correctly. It's highly unlikely anyone will ever get a perfect score. Simply do your best, without assistance. Taking this exam is about finding out which language course you will be most successful in as a starting point.

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Loly Alcaide Ramirez, Major Coordinator

Loly Alcaide Ramirez

Associate Professor

Dr. Vanessa de Veritch Woodside, CAC Division Vice-Chair

Vanessa de Veritch Woodside

Associate Professor

Professor Augie Machine

Augie Machine

Assistant Teaching Professor


Useful definitions for Spanish Language and Cultures Students

We define a native speaker of Spanish as a person who learned Spanish at home as his or her first language, and who lived in a Spanish-speaking home for the first six years of childhood. In addition, a native speaker has some formal instruction (at least through 7th grade) in schools where Spanish was the primary language. (Example: A person who was born in Mexico to Mexican parents, who lived in Mexico until age 14, and completed 7th grade there, is a native speaker of Spanish.)

We define a heritage speaker of Spanish as a person who was raised in a home where Spanish was spoken at least 50% of the time during that person's childhood and adolescence. Heritage speakers may not have had formal instruction in Spanish, but they are to some degree bilingual in both Spanish and English.


Student Learning Outcomes

Spanish Language and Cultures students will:

  • Develop oral, writing and reading proficiency in Spanish at the Advanced Level as defined by American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards.
  • Become knowledgeable about the complexity of cultures in the Spanish-speaking world and be able to engage in ongoing critical debate about them.
  • Acquire proficiency in the 5 Cs (communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, communities) for language studies in Spanish as defined by the National Foreign Language Standards.
  • Learn terminology and concepts from at least two of these fields: literature and literary criticism; film and film criticism; cultural studies and cultural theory, and be able to apply the terminology and concepts to the critical analysis of works from Spain, Spanish America, and U.S. Latinos.
  • Become global citizens, able to interact compassionately, intelligently and insightfully with other cultures, particularly those of the Spanish-speaking world, and to engage in the scholarship and activism.
  • Acquire competence necessary for employment in a variety of fields related to the Spanish language and literary and cultural studies and/or a graduate program in Spanish or Latin American Studies.

Spanish Language and Cultures Degree Requirements

The Spanish Language and Cultures major consists of 60 upper division credits, in addition to other university requirements for graduation. Of these 60 credits, 35 credits are core requirements, and 25 credits are required upper-division courses chosen from Spanish language and culture classes. You must earn a total of 180 quarter credits, or 225 quarter credits for a double degree, in order to earn a bachelor of arts degree in your chosen major.

For questions about the Spanish Language and Cultures major, contact an academic advisor or the Spanish Language and Cultures major coordinator, Associate Professor Loly Alcaide Ramírez.

Core Classes: Minimum of  35 Credits

All courses are five (5) credits unless otherwise noted.

We recommend that students take TSPAN 301, 302 and 303 in sequence, but it's not required. A student can begin 300-level coursework in 302 or 303, as long as he/she has reached that level of proficiency via placement exam or coursework prerequisites. TSPAN 311, 312 and 313 are courses that are under development.

TSPAN 302 is not open to NATIVE speakers or HERITAGE speakers of Spanish. See definitions provided above. Native and heritage speakers can substitute any other Spanish class at the 300-400 level in place of 302.

The foreign study credits must be in a program that offers at least 50% of the instruction in Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country. Students may combine credits from two programs, if desired. The experiential learning must be in a Spanish-speaking community, where at least 50% of the work the student does is in Spanish.

Required electives: minimum of 25 credits at the 300-400 level

  • At least 5 credits from List A: Spanish language must be at the 400 level
  • At least 5 credits from List B: Literature, film or culture in Spanish must be at the 400 level

 Additional courses may be approved and added to courses lists to provide students more flexibility and options.
Please refer to this page often for the most up-to-date information.

To request changes or updates to this page, please contact