Department of Modern Foreign Languages
Department of Modern Foreign Languages
BSC students at Machu Picchu, Peru
Studying a foreign language opens doors to other cultures and other ways of thinking. In fact, it’s an integral part of the liberal arts curriculum. It’s also a stepping stone to your future, whether you’re headed into a career in diplomacy, international business, medicine, or service; a reading knowledge of other languages is also a frequent requirement for graduate work in many fields. At Birmingham-Southern, our goal is to broaden students’ perspective while preparing them for future success.
But there’s more to Modern Foreign Languages at BSC than what happens in the classroom:
- Put your skills into practice during our unique January Exploration Term. Spend your time living with a family or doing service-learning in a foreign country; shadow interpreters at a local hospital; or meet with a professor to read newspapers from around the world. Or take a longer semester to study abroad or do an international internship so you can see what it’s like to “live the language.”
- Take part in our Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum program, which offers one-semester-hour courses in Spanish for a range of disciplines, including biology, chemistry and history. FLAC courses may also be arranged in Chinese.
- Practice your budding language skills with native speakers in BSC’s international community, or take advantage of non-English events and conversation tables around Birmingham.
- Take advantage of our Language Lab, stocked with 25 computers loaded with software to help learn a foreign language.
Language majors from Birmingham-Southern go on to lead successful careers in any number of professions. For some, mastery of Spanish is a critical component to their careers. For others, language proficiency adds value to their skills, opening new avenues and new possibilities. Our recent graduates have become:
- Dentists, doctors and health care professionals
- Medical translators and interpreters
- Attorneys with Spanish-language skills
- University professors
- Interpreters for business
- High school language teachers
- Peace Corps volunteers
- Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL)
- International sales and marketing professionals
"I worked at the William J. Clinton Foundation as an intern in the Scheduling Department. Because I could read, write, and speak Spanish, I was frequently chosen to participate and translate calls with Spanish-speaking diplomats and visitors. I was able to use the skills I had gained from the BSC Spanish major to impress my supervisor and to have the opportunity to speak with important Latin American figures."
--Jennifer Comander '12 / Spanish
Washington & Lee Law School
Jessy Sperry, '16, Spanish major
I am currently at Augusta University in Augusta Georgia earning my master's in nursing as Clinical Nurse Leader. I will graduate in December of 2017! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to use my Spanish yet, but I know the city has a large Spanish-speaking population and once I start my clinical rotations, I should definitely have opportunities to use my Spanish! As of right now, I have interest working in the Emergency Department within a hospital so that I can serve as the first line of communication with Spanish speakers when there is not time to wait for an interpreter. For anyone thinking your options are limited with a Spanish major, that is so not true! It was extremely easy for me to major in Spanish and actually enjoy going to class and then get all the pre-requisites in the not so fun class that eventually I would use to get into nursing school. I If anyone has any questions about my program, please feel free to contact me! My email address is email@example.com
Elena Goebertus, '15, Spanish major
After serving a year as an AmeriCorps at the Hispanic Interest Coalition in their Community Engagement and Education program, I took the summer off to do some traveling and see family - my nephew's first word was "agua" which was very exciting to witness! I have now returned to the HAM and a week ago I was offered a position at a local non-profit named Sight Savers of America. I will be a case manager for low-income families and their children that need vision care. I am excited that this is a 'bilingual' position and I will be taking some Spanish speaking cases and talking to the immigrant families that will receive our services. I will be looking for ways to be more involved in the community on a volunteer basis speaking Spanish. In the meantime, as I nestle back in to the city, I love to listen to the podcast Coffee Break Spanish -I'd recommend it to any BSC student wanting extra listening practice.
Emily Rice, '15, Spanish major
I graduated from BSC in 2015 with a BFA in Art and Spanish. I currently am teaching high school Spanish at Central Park Christian School in Ensley. I never thought in a million years that I would teach at a high school level, much less Spanish. I always struggled with grammatical concepts and trying to speak perfectly, however through study abroad and conversational learning at BSC, I was able to move past that hump and speak the language without inhibitions. I also teach dance classes through the Children's Dance Foundation, so I am able to utilize my Spanish with some of the children that are learning English as a second language. Spanish has an ever-growing importance in Birmingham, and I am thrilled to use it in my day-to-day life.
Smriti Krishnah, '15, Spanish major
Where do I begin? The Spanish Department at BSC gave--and continues to provide--me a powerful foundation of language, culture, knowledge, and more importantly, the ability to assimilate and acquire skills. Language is ever-evolving, and Spanish is a multi-dimensional experience at BSC. Both Professors Spencer and Domcekova always transformed the classroom into real-world applications, with whatever we were studying (even very difficult grammar) leaping off the pages and coming to life. Learning slices of culture in a variety of situations was invaluable, because it helped me contextualize Spanish. Every course I took at BSC built a solid stairwell to my graduate-study aspirations. Today, I am a student at the University of Alabama, studying law and Spanish. This semester, I am very excited to begin working at Adelante, an organization that focuses on Latino workers' rights and related immigration issues! Without having pursued Spanish as a major, I would not have been able to find the perfect confluence of using the Spanish I had learned (and continue to learn) and the legal skills I have acquired since leaving BSC in 2015. I am forever grateful to BSC. As someone who dithered between several majors, I urge you to major or minor in Spanish--it will change your life, and will open countless doors!
Emily Holst, '13, Spanish minor
Unos meses despues de graduarme de BSC con un minor en espanol, fui a Chile gracias a un programa llamado "English Open Doors" para ensenar ingles en un colegio en el sur de Chile. Fue sin duda una gran experiencia, especialmente el hecho de compartir y aprender tanto de nuestras culturas como idiomas. Me alegrÃ³ mucho el haber tenido conocimientos de espanol, esto fue esencial todo el viaje, me permitiÃ³ comunicarme bien con mis alumnos y asi aprender de ellos. Despues, fui a la Patagonia, lugar en donde trabaje en una agencia de turismo durante el verano. Alli hacia tours de la regiÃ³n a los turistas que venian de diferentes partes del mundo. Fue una experiencia genial hablar con gente de diversos paises que hablaban distintos idiomas, y poder comunicarme con ellos tanto en ingles como en espanol. Despues del verano, consegui otro trabajo ensenando ingles, esta vez en la capital de Chile, Santiago. Mi tiempo en Chile terminÃ³ despues de casi 2 anos. Regrese a Estados Unidos para estudiar pedagogia y conseguir un magister de ingles en University of Montana. Este semestre, estoy en una clase de linguistica donde aprendemos como ensenar otro idioma. Despues de graduarme, espero ensenar lenguaje/ ingles en un colegio bilingue.
Grace Elliott, '13, Spanish for the Workplace minor
I graduated from Birmingham-Southern in 2013 with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish for the Workplace. After graduation, I moved to Omaha, NE, to work for Union Pacific Railroad. I began my career at Union Pacific as a Logistics Service Representative and held various positions in the Logistics and Marketing and Sales departments during the three years I worked there. My time at Union Pacific was critical in developing essential skills for the workplace. I learned how to communicate effectively, lead teams, and build strong relationships with customers. I faced daily challenges that strengthened my analytical and problem-solving skills, and I was even able to apply and strengthen my Spanish skills when dealing with customers shipping to and from Mexico. I recently decided to change my career path and am obtaining my Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification. I plan to move to Spain in September to serve as the "Language and Culture Assistant" at a public elementary school in Madrid. After having studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, during my time at BSC, I am confident I will be able to navigate the city of Madrid comfortably and am looking forward to re-immersing myself in the Spanish culture and continuing to improve my Spanish language skills. After the school year in Madrid, I plan to return to the United States and obtain a job in which I can utilize my fluency in Spanish. I am incredibly grateful for my BSC education and guidance from Dr. Domcekova, who encouraged me to study abroad during college. I would not have the skills, experience, and aspirations I have today without an education from Birmingham-Southern College.
Katie Adams, '12, Spanish major
I graduated from BSC in Spring 2012 having majored in Spanish and minored in Economics. The following September I left for Nicaragua to start my Peace Corps Service as an English Teacher & Trainer. I had not imagined myself as an English teacher before looking into Peace Corps; however, the general training on how to be an educator and the opportunity to work directly with Nicaraguan teachers in the local high school were fantastic opportunities. Outside my regular class time I started an after school group for 5th and 6th grade girls where we played games, did crafts, and learned about reproductive health topics like family planning methods and healthy relationships. My background in Spanish supported my ability to connect with the people with whom I lived and worked, and enabled me to quickly transfer teaching skills from one content (English) to another (sexuality education). Back in the States for over a year now, I currently work as the Health Educator for Planned Parenthood Southeast. I collaborate with local high schools, universities and other organizations to teach everything from the anatomy of the reproductive systems to consent to birth control and condoms. Knowing Spanish means I can take these classes to a support group for Hispanics living with HIV or a group of Hispanic mothers, connecting more people with important information they need to make healthy decisions for their lives. For me, speaking another language has always been about just that: connection with people, places, cultures, food, and history in a way that wouldn't be the same monolingually.
Christopher David, '12, Spanish major
I graduated from BSC in the spring of 2011, and in the fall I began medical school at the University of South Alabama (USA) in Mobile. While there, I was able to use my Spanish to some extent especially on the OBGYN and ER rotations, however I quickly realized that becoming proficient in medical Spanish is much more difficult than conversational Spanish. Not only is there a large amount of unfamiliar medical vocabulary, but also there is the responsibility of caring for a patient. Accordingly, the stakes of miscomprehension are much higher. After finishing medical school in 2015 I began residency in internal medicine at UAB. As of now, I am in my second year of residency and am greatly enjoying my time not only at UAB but back in Birmingham as well. For fun, I enjoy playing the drums, playing disc golf, and of course speaking Spanish when the opportunity presents itself. Upon completing residency in 2018, I plan to pursue a fellowship in cardiology (and hopefully speak more Spanish!).
Contact:Dr. Barbara Domcekova, chair
Department of Modern Foreign Languages
900 Arkadelphia Road, Box 549028
Birmingham, AL 35254-9021