Spanish and Portuguese

Academic Department Introduction

Spanish and Portuguese are two of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Spanish-speaking cultures extend from Spain’s Judeo-Christian and Islamic heritage to Latin America’s roots to the United States today. Portuguese is spoken in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, and the U.S. has significant Portuguese, Brazilian, and Cabo Verdean communities, particularly in New England, California, Florida, and New Jersey.

Students in our language classes work in small groups to build oral proficiency and encourage individual expression. Literature classes include analyses and discussions of writing from different periods. We examine past and present civilizations through courses on history, film, music, and culture. Frequent activities include tertulias (gatherings), lectures, symposia, films, and performances by writers and artists.

Learning goals

  • Understand and effectively interact with people across cultures.

  • Identify key topics in film, music, and literature within the social, political, and historical contexts of the modern Hispanic or Lusophone world.

  • Recognize pivotal events and representative figures in Hispanic or Lusophone history.

  • Develop the ability to participate in a multilingual and multicultural community.

Programs of Study

Spanish major

Students will develop an advanced level of linguistic fluency in Spanish.

Global Portuguese studies minor

Students will learn to communicate effectively in written and spoken Portuguese.

Course Highlights

  • Practice in oral and written Spanish at the advanced level. Designed to enhance communicative competence, this course will provide an intensive review of advanced grammatical structures within cultural contexts of the Spanish-speaking world. Each section will explore a specific theme through the examination of Hispanic literary texts and the arts, as well as other cultural phenomena. Varied oral interactions, technological applications, and critical writing will be stressed.. Culture, Politics, and CreativityThis course studies cultural expressions as invigorating glimpses into socio-political realities of Latin America and Spain. We will explore how writers, film directors, poets, and artists respond to social demands, political changes, and cultural shifts in particular times, places, and communities. Selected works engage students with diverse cultural repertoires of the Hispanic world in interdisciplinary ways. We will spotlight the relationship between political violence and literature in Argentina and Chile; displacement and photography in Spain and Uruguay; domestic workers and film in Mexico and Peru; education and artistic activism in El Salvador and Nicaragua; and exile and poetry in Cuba and Paraguay.
  • This course explores the construction of the child and adolescent voices in Argentine contemporary fiction and film. We will consider how young protagonists’ curiosities, trepidations, and transgressions in adult-regimented worlds have critical implications for class, gender, sexual and racial politics. Our discussions will center on diverse portrayals of children and adolescents as navigators of their settings, which range from shantytowns to country clubs, rural provinces to urban centers, homeless shelters to sheltered existences. Short stories, films, novels, and flash fiction by Ariel Magnus, Lucrecia Martel, Mariana Enríquez, Daniela Seggiaro, Paula Markovitch, Andrés Neuman, and Agustina Bazterrica will be considered.

Places and spaces

Casa Cervantes

Eight students per year live in La Casa Cervantes, where they commit to speaking Spanish in all public areas of the house. Activities include visits from the Spanish faculty, game nights, and holiday celebrations.

Research highlights


  • Study abroad

    Qualified juniors are encouraged to spend a semester or a year in a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country, with Wellesley’s consortium program in Córdoba, Spain, our study abroad partners (Study in Portuguese Network, Middlebury Study Abroad), or other approved programs. During Wintersession, our faculty run short-term study abroad programs. These have included trips to Barcelona and Cuba for students with proficient Spanish.

  • Internships

    The Spanish and Portuguese Department offers several funded internship opportunities in Cabo Verde, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Spain, and at El Observatorio Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University. Other geographies are possible. Students are also encouraged to apply for the Gilman-FLAD Portugal Scholarship.

  • Spanish Table and Portuguese Table

    Open to all members of the Wellesley community, the tables offer an opportunity to share a meal with others who speak or are learning to speak Spanish or Portuguese.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Many Spanish majors and global Portuguese studies minors pursue careers in the health care, education, or legal professions. Employers include Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Ministerio de Educación in Chile, Immigrant Justice Corps, and the National Parks Service.

For more

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Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Green Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Koichi Hagimoto
Department Chair