Why Study Spanish and Portuguese?

There is abundant evidence on the benefits of language learning.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has identified three major areas of advantage:
1) improved academic achievement
2) cognitive benefits
3) beliefs and attitude toward the language and its corresponding people and culture. 
Click here for the complete summaries.

Additional testimonials abound:

The Case for Spanish or Portuguese, The American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese

Laura Collins, a correspondent of The New Yorker

“For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language,” The Atlantic

“Why You Should Learn Another Language: Those who speak more than one language have a greater chance of succeeding in business,”U.S. News & World Report

“6 Multilingual Benefits That You Only Get if You Speak Another Language,” The Huffington Post

“Bilingual Benefits: How Learning Another Language Keeps Your Mind Sharp, No Matter Your Age,”Medical Daily

“What happens in the brain when you learn a language?,”The Guardian

“Career Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language,” The HR Digest

“What is a foreign language worth?,” The Economist

“The five best languages to learn for business in a changing world,” Nomad Capitalist

“Top Foreign Languages Students Should Learn This School Year,” Middlebury Interactive Languages

"What Can You Do With That (Useless) Liberal Arts Degree? A Lot More Than You Think," Forbes

"Why employers value recent college grads with foreign language skills," College Recruiter

"Five Reasons Why Knowing a Foreign Language Will Help Your Career," WinterWyman

"The Value of Spanish in the Workplace," Monster

"The 5 Huge Economic Benefits of Learning Spanish," FluentU

"Foreign Language Study Should Be Mandatory!," Inside Higher Ed

"People who speak multiple languages make the best employees," Quartz

"Spanish Thrives in the U.S. Despite an English-Only Drive," The New York Times

"Europeans keep lapping America on foreign language learning," Axios


More people in the world speak Spanish than any other language – with the exception of Mandarin Chinese – and one out of six U.S. residents is Hispanic. That's why the College of Charleston offers the largest and most comprehensive undergraduate Spanish program in the Southeast. The expertise of our dynamic faculty spans topics from history to translation, literature and film. The Department of Hispanic Studies also includes the College’s program in Portuguese. No wonder almost two-thirds of the student body is enrolled in one of our courses each year. So, why not supercharge your résumé and enrich your world view with a major – or a minor – in Spanish?

In the job market, the Spanish major and minor give our graduates a competitive edge in a variety of fields ranging from the import-export industry to international development, social service, education, marketing and more, as is attested to by recent alumni:

“My training and my professors at the College prepared me to work with Hispanic immigrants and to integrate more comfortably into their culture. I’m better able to connect with them through my language skills and my understanding of their cultures as well.”

Chelsea Rogers '10, community health organizer, Austin, Texas

“Essentially, I thought a degree in Spanish would make me more marketable in my field, and it has. As a student, I spent a semester studying in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I also interned for a subsidiary of Honda. That firm offered me a job, but I’m planning to establish my own international business one day, both in Mexico and South America.”

Todd Cooper ’11, teacher and bail bondsman, Charleston, SC

“I work with a small, international textile company, and I use Spanish on a weekly basis, from fielding customer calls to helping employees with questions. My major prepared me in so many ways to succeed here – with analytical thinking, professionalism, writing and comprehension skills, and ultimately, with Spanish for the workplace.”

Meredith Ritz ’11, project manager, Hartford, CT

“My internship with a German-based manufacturing firm led to an offer of full-time employment. I was considered a strong candidate, in part, because they wanted someone with Spanish language skills and cultural awareness.”

Chris Bailey ’12, graduate assistant and student, Charleston, SC

“Speaking Spanish would have been a useful tool no matter what I chose to do right out of college. But as a Peace Corps volunteer, I’d be unable to achieve anything without it. Each course I took raised my awareness and appreciation of other cultures, and that eased my transition into my new home that is full of foreign customs.”

Laura Ferguson ’10 Peace Corps volunteer, Peru 



Did you know that over 230 million people speak Portuguese? That makes it the sixth most widely used language in the world. Portuguese is recognized as an important language for commerce and international relations. Today, students see proficiency in this language as a means of distinguishing themselves in the professional arena, and as a way of preparing to participate in one of the world’s fastest growing economies – Brazil.

The College of Charleston’s Portuguese Program is taught by native speakers in small classes. The courses emphasize proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as cultural understanding. All students have the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil during the semester and take intensive summer programs.

Throughout the year, students can participate in a variety of activities such as Capoeira lessons, Samba classes, lectures, films and more. “Legal demais!” (So cool!)

Why not augment your résumé by adding Portuguese to your educational portfolio? Knowledge of this language and its exuberant culture will give you an advantage in a number of fields, from the import-export industry to international development, education, marketing, cultural studies and more. Here’s what some of our recent alumni have to say:

“The Portuguese Program was the most valuable academic endeavor I took part in while at the College. Luci and Jose Moreira were the kindest professors I've ever had and they truly cared about my ability to master the subject matter. I’ve since started my own company using Portuguese and the other languages it has helped me learn. I honestly don't know where I'd be or what I'd be doing if I hadn't studied Portuguese at the College.”

Miles Mader ’07 (philosophy major), international business consultant, liaison, and translator, Pensacola, FL

“Having studied Portuguese is important to me because of Brazil’s dynamic economy. It is growing so fast and that means increasing opportunities for English-speaking students to pursue careers with companies active in the Brazilian markets. In addition, having the opportunity to learn from some of the most open-minded faculty at the College really adds value to your college experience.”

Thais Voet ‘14 (Spanish and business administration major), invoice specialist, Insight Global Atlanta, GA

“The College of Charleston's Portuguese Program has proven its value over the past few years as I’ve been working in Central America. While I mainly speak Spanish for work, I have found myself working with Brazilians both as teammates and as clients, and the Portuguese I learned at the College has gone a long way.”

Tom Laffay '11 (Latin American and Caribbean Studies major), independent photojournalist and filmmaker based in Nicaragua

The Spanish major and minor

Spanish is considered the 2nd most widely spoken language in the world—after Chinese--and is the 3rd most-used language in the Internet community, with 1 in 13 Internet users representing Spanish speakers.  Currently in the U.S., 1 in 6 residents are Hispanic, or approximately 17% of the population.  In 2014, 73% of Hispanics age 5 and older spoke Spanish at home, and by 2020 almost 16% of the U.S. population will be Spanish-speaking Hispanics.   In addition, U.S. Hispanics represented $1.5 trillion in purchasing power in 2015, of which only 2.5% of generated income was sent back to families in Latin America, which means that approximately 97.5% of that income remained stateside.  The U.S. Hispanic market is the 14th largest economy in the world, comprising almost 10% of total U.S. buying power.  In South Carolina, approximately 76% of Hispanics speak Spanish at home, and 41% are homeowners.

Such factors have greatly impacted business, the health and legal systems, and many other dimensions of contemporary U.S. society, thereby making the extended study of Spanish an important advantage for students preparing for the workforce.

Why double-major in Spanish?

Over 60% of CofC’s Spanish majors are double majors, which indicates that students of all academic majors understand the competitive edge that Spanish provides in today’s job market.  And with a double major in Spanish, applicants make a strong statement to prospective employers: “I have a skill that sets me apart from your other job applicants: I speak Spanish.”  You only have one shot at your undergraduate academic career, so why not maximize the opportunity with a second major in Spanish?

Why major in Spanish?

In addition to the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills gained in the foreign language, students learn to understand and appreciate other cultures, assimilate into unfamiliar environments and develop critical thinking skills.  As a result, graduates have succeeded with careers in education, law, interpreting, health and medicine, agriculture, the State Department, law enforcement, Peace Corps, banking, sales, counseling, business, translating, journalism and hospitality, among many others.

Why minor in Spanish?

Of the 73 minors offered at the College of Charleston, Spanish is the largest program by a substantial margin.  The Spanish minor’s popularity is due to many factors, but mainly because students of all academic majors recognize the competitive edge the Spanish language affords them in today’s job market via the ability to communicate and connect with a larger group of consumers, clients and associates.

Why minor in Business Language in Spanish?

This specialized Spanish minor is designed for students interested in both Spanish language and business studies, and who would like to work in the international business community.  In addition, this program is one of the internationally focused minors required for the International Business Major.  According to SDL Trados Studio:

  • 82% of people are more likely to buy if promotional material is in their native language.

  • 75% of online shoppers are more likely to buy from websites with content in their language.

  • 74% are more likely to purchase the same brand again if the after-sales care is in their language.