Spanish Area


What’s special about Spanish at UMBC?

At UMBC the study of Spanish is part of the major, minor and certificate programs of the department of Modern Languages Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication (MLLI).  The MLLI faculty, which includes a unique combination of specialists in linguistics, sociology, cultural and literary studies, intercultural communication and pedagogy has been pioneers in developing an interdisciplinary curriculum for over two decades.

In the interdisciplinary MLLI major program, Spanish students join those of other languages in a common core of three courses that stress linguistic and cultural analysis. Therefore, an integral part of acquiring proficiency in Spanish language and knowledge of the cultures of Spain, Latin America, and Latinx in the United States, is learning about the fascinating dynamics of languages and cultures in general.

Spanish courses address a variety of cultural, sociological, literary and linguistic themes. UMBC Spanish students learn about the histories, the cultures, and the social problems of the societies in which Spanish is spoken. Classes in advanced Spanish courses are small and offer the opportunity for individual interaction with professors.

Students of Spanish at UMBC are continually learning to cross borders, cultural, social, psychological, and national borders. They acquire:

•  Fluency in the Spanish language
•  Knowledge of various cultures
•  Intercultural competencies and skills designed for a globalized society

The study of Spanish at UMBC features:

• An interdisciplinary curriculum
• A thematic organization of courses
• Study abroad in Latin America and Spain

Spanish programs offered:  

Spanish is already the second language in the United States and Latinos are the largest minority population.  Relations among the United States, the Latin American republics, and Spain are of increasing importance, and these trends are sure to continue.  Thus, it is probable that in the not too distant future all educated Americans will want to know Spanish. The usefulness of acquiring proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge about the cultures of Spanish speakers is by now widely recognized. Knowledge and skills in Spanish are advantageous in all professions. The study of Spanish is booming, and there are many good university Spanish programs.  Most university language programs focus almost exclusively on language and literature.  Not UMBC.  So:

Kirsten Clark
BA: 2017, Spanish (MLLI) Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Colombia 2017- 2018
“Through the Spanish and MLL classes at UMBC, I not only vastly increased my Spanish proficiency, but I was challenged to question my own assumptions about language and culture, ultimately broadening my perspective to the diversity and complexity of the Spanish-speaking world. The knowledge and skills I developed during my time at UMBC helped me not only to recieve a Fulbright ETA grant, but to connect with the community and be successful in the workplace during my time in Colombia.”
Intercultural communication

At UMBC, an exceptionally diverse campus, we understand that all cultural analysis is intercultural, and a unique aspect of the UMBC MLL program is the focus on intercultural communication. Along with gaining language proficiency and cultural knowledge, our students study intercultural theory and practice and acquire intercultural skills and competencies. Dr. Sara Poggio is the coordinator of the undergraduate Intercultural Communication Certificate. She teaches courses in her specialization.

Latinx students at UMBC

The Spanish area offers two language courses (SPAN 304, SPAN 305) specifically designed to meet the needs of heritage Spanish speakers. To get in touch with the Hispanic-Latinx student organization on campus (HLSU) contact Dr. Thania Muñoz D., president of the Latinx-Hispanic Faculty Association (LHFA).

Latinx in Maryland research

The research of a member of the Spanish faculty focuses on Latinx in Maryland.  Drs. Sara Poggio, Tania Lizarazo, and Thania Muñoz teach courses which draw on their studies of Latin American families in Maryland.  Advanced undergraduate students also have the opportunity to participate in her local research projects on Latin American and Caribbean immigrant women in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Sean Carmody, MLLI alumnus and Spanish area lecturer
“For me, the greatest benefit of the MLLI/Spanish program at UMBC has not been the breathtaking experiences during study abroad, nor my extremely fulfilling careers as a Spanish instructor and medical interpreter that the MLLI department’s dedicated professors prepared me for; rather, it has been the ability to connect with so many more people in my community and the world on a much deeper level.”
UMBC in Colombia and other study abroad programs

Students have the opportunity to study abroad in various Spanish-speaking countries.  For example, in the past, students have studies at Barranquilla, Colombia during the summer at the Instituto de Idiomas of the Universidad del Norte. Mrs. Milvia Hernandez led this UMBC Faculty-led Spanish Language Immersion Program where students earned a total of seven (7) UMBC undergraduate credits. Students have also participated in the Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros (CEPE) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Students also have the opportunity to study in other cities in Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Chile, and other Spanish-speaking countries. Students return from study abroad with dramatically improved proficiency and new social and cultural knowledge that will serve them the rest of their lives. Spanish faculty members and the Education Abroad Office ( advise students regarding their selection of an appropriate program.

A new opportunity beginning Summer 2024 will be a UMBC Faculty-led program: “Intercultural Communication in Morocco & Spain.”  This program will provides first-hand experience in seeing the interrelated cultural influences between Morocco and Spain across intercultural communication, cuisine, architecture, music and more. Explore the shared legacies of Moorish influence as you wander through Fez’s ancient medina, adorned with intricate tilework and bustling souks (markets). Then, experience the echoes of Al-Andalus in Marbella’s architecture and traditions, where the Moorish heritage intertwines harmoniously with Spanish culture. Immerse yourself in this cross-cultural program that celebrates the vibrant history binding these two remarkable destinations.

The Spanish-Speaking Cluster of the Intercultural Living Exchange
Aubrey Gallo 2008 (Fourth from the right) Study Abroad: Valparaíso, Chile "I lived on the ILE floor in Harbor for two years, and I definitely made some of the best memories in college on that floor. . . . I am thankful for the experiences that I had at the ILE, and I hope that UMBC will always have a safe haven for language majors."
Aubrey Gallo 2008 (Fourth from the right)
Study Abroad: Valparaíso, Chile
“I lived on the ILE floor in Harbor for two years, and I definitely made some of the best memories in college on that floor. . . . I am thankful for the experiences that I had at the ILE, and I hope that UMBC will always have a safe haven for language majors.”

The Intercultural Living Exchange (ILE), a residential community in Harbor Hall promotes second language proficiency through immersion in the Spanish language and contact with Hispanic cultures. Students living in the Spanish-speaking cluster of the ILE have organized Spanish chat hours, study abroad presentations, Spanish and Latin American film events, culinary activities, Hispanic holiday celebrations, as well as cultural excursions to concerts, plays and art exhibits.  Residence in the ILE helps prepare participants for study abroad and provides continuity for students returning from an international education experience. For more information, contact program director Dr. Elisabeth Arévalo-Guerrero.


Through internships students combine the study of Spanish and modern languages and linguistics with an employment related experience that may lead to a career path.  The Department of Modern Languages & Linguistics can provide students with placements in local and international internship positions related to their study of the Spanish language and culture.  All Spanish majors and minors are encouraged to include this experience in their course of study.  Please contact Dr. Sara Poggio for more information.

  • And after graduation?

Edward Warner, 
B.A. Political Science ’04, MA Intercultural Communication ’07. “After completing an undergraduate major in Political Science and a minor in MLLI-Spanish, I went on to do my MA degree in Intercultural Communication with a focus on Spanish. The teachers in the MLLI department pushed me to hone my language skills and introduced me to the injustices of human rights abuses in Latin America, and I have worked in Guatemala extensively on human rights cases. I am currently studying at Georgetown University Charles Hamilton Houston Summer Law Institute. Law schools have been receptive to me as an applicant because they know I have a second language expertise and I have experience working in human rights. The MLLI department added a special shine to my professional portfolio.”

Graduate schools

Many MLLI majors and minors go on to graduate studies in a variety of areas –for example law, medicine, social work, health sciences, and education, as well as language, linguistics and culture– at some of the best graduate schools in the country.

Employment opportunities

Fluency in the Spanish language and knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures are now sought after in many area and are significant marketable skills.  Our graduates pursue a variety of career paths, in health, law, government, non-governmental agencies, social work business, and others.

Want to teach?

The Spanish area works closely with the Education department to offer an integrated course of studies to those who wish to obtain a teaching certificate. All teacher education programs at UMBC require the completion of an academic major. Students may major in Spanish and complete teacher education programs in secondary education, in elementary teacher preparation education, or in early childhood education.


For further information about the MLLI Spanish program, please contact Spanish area coordinator, Dr. María Manni.