Spanish Major

U.S. census data show that the Hispanic population of the United States has increased by 50% since 1990. Government projections place the total Hispanic population at 73,055 people, or 20% of total the U.S population by the year 2030.

Spanish as a second or a third language in the future could prove to be a requirement, or give an added edge when pursuing a career in business, government, communication, the foreign service, social work, education, journalism, travel & tourism, translation & interpretation, science & technology, and international relations.

In addition to its career benefits, studying Spanish will allow you to explore a whole new world of travel in México, Central and South America, Spain and the Caribbean, meeting new people and enjoying new experiences.

The foreign language curriculum is designed to introduce all Drury students to selected languages of the world and their cultural and literary traditions. Language majors are prepared for graduate studies and also for careers in a variety of fields including teaching, international business and other professional disciplines.


How Long Does it Take to Become Fluent?

This is a very tough question to answer for four reasons. A great deal varies from student to student depending on:

  1. How much they take responsibility for their own learning
  2. How much experience they have with their own native language
  3. How much basic aptitude they bring to the enterprise
  4. When they first began the study of foreign language

In general, the U.S. Department of State sets out these guidelines for the languages that Drury offers:

Spanish: 600 class hours
French:  600 class hours

The differences here arise from the foreign language’s differences from English.

These numbers are why we highly recommend an immersion study abroad language experience to achieve fluency. One foreign language course per semester for four years will give students 360- 390 hours. This will give students skill, but fall short of fluency.

In general, we say three years (with a course every semester) plus an intensive immersion experience will produce a fluent speaker.

Other practice, however, can also be achieved through students’ own initiative: speaking with international students, etc.

Why Learn a Foreign Language?

  1. To keep America strong
    “Language is a tool for economic competitiveness and national security. President George W. Bush pictured the American language deficit as a security issue. ‘This issue deals with the defense of the country, the diplomacy of the country, the intelligence to defend our country and the education of our people,’ he told a collection of university presidents in 2006.”~ Lewis Beale, “U.S. Students Hurting in Foreign Language.” 17 May 2010.

  2. To increase global understanding
    “Effective communication and successful negotiations with a foreign partner–whether with a partner in peacekeeping, a strategic economic partner, a political adversary, or a non-English speaking contact in a critical law enforcement action–requires strong comprehension of the underlying cultural values and belief structures that are part of the life experience of the foreign partner.” ~ Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education

  3. To improve employment potential
    “[T]he English language alone is probably sufficient if all we need to do is buy our products abroad, if we need to purchase foreign goods and services. But when it comes to selling a product abroad, you have to understand the psychology and the belief structure of your client. If you are selling America abroad and telling America’s story abroad […] then you have to understand the value systems of that foreign public that you are speaking to.”~ Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education

  4. To increase native language ability
    “Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  5. To sharpen cognitive and life skills
    “We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects.” ~ Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education

  6. To improve chances of entry into graduate school
    “For those planning to continue on to graduate study in most any field, knowledge of a second and sometimes even a third language is often a prerequisite for admission. From mathematics to anthropology, from biology to art history, you will find that many if not most graduate programs require some kind of foreign language knowledge of their applicants. In some programs, graduate students are required to gain a reading knowledge of other languages as a degree requirement, especially in doctoral programs.” ~

What University Foreign Language Students Need to Know

  1. Spend the time
    The most important factor is how much time you work with the language. Despite the promises of computer-based systems, there is no magic pill or “quick fix” to language learning. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This also means not just attending class, but getting your full money’s worth by really listening, speaking up, asking questions and using the language.
  2. Repetition is your friend
    Practice as much as possible. Meet international students and talk to them (trade your language practice for English practice!). Find the foreign-language radio or television stations and listen to them. Rent foreign films and watch them in the foreign language. Listen to music wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language.
  3. Take responsibility for your own learning
    If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Do you like sports? Find articles on line about your favorite sport in your target language and read them. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.
  4. Study abroad
    True linguistic or cultural literacy and fluency is rarely achieved without an immersion experience in a study abroad context. Indeed, time spent abroad with an active language-learning component is one of the most potent variables predicting language proficiency.
  5. Relax and enjoy yourself
    Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

What Can I Do with My Foreign Language Degree?

Generally, our most successful graduates are those who pair their foreign language degree with another degree that will point them toward a professional field (immediate employment or entry into graduate school).

The following list gives some examples from recent Drury graduates who paired their language with another major (or minor) and then went on to professional success. This list is not exhaustive, it is intended to give a few examples of the types of things graduates have done in the past. More details examples or ideas are certainly available.

Degree Profession/Fields
Foreign Language + Criminology FBI, Homeland Security
Foreign Language + Psychology Attorney, Social Services, NGO (charity)
Foreign Language + Business NGOs, International Sales Accounting at Multi-National firms Banking, International Stock Trading Information Technology
Foreign Language + Pre-Health Physician, Pharmacist, Nurse, Occupational Therapist
Foreign Language + Political Science International Relations, Federal Government, Attorney
Foreign Language + Education University Professor, University Administration, Secondary Education, Foreign Education (teaching abroad)
Foreign Language + Communications Advertising, Journalist
Foreign Language + Architecture Peace Corps, NGO work

Sigma Delta Pi: National Spanish Honor Society

Sigma Delta Pi is the National Spanish Honor Society. Founded in 1919, it is the oldest foreign language honor society in the nation. (It is also the largest). Drury’s chapter was chartered in 1971.

Membership is given to those who have had at least three years or 18 hours of College Spanish classesincluding at least one course in Hispanic Literature or Culture. Candidates must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

Membership shows a student’s commitment to and love of the Hispanic language and culture, and also affords the opportunity to apply for one of numerous scholarships for study abroad that the National Society awards every year.

On campus, Sigma Delta Pi organizes events such as dinners, Spanish Movie Nights and Spanish Game Nights.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Elizabeth G. Nichols, Chapter Advisor
(417) 873-6925
e-mail :


General Language References


Latin America

Apps for Mobile Devices:

  • Wordreference: Spanish-Language dictionary (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone)
  • *Viber: Free texting and calls to anyone in the world with this app (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone)
  • *WhatsApp: Free texting to anyone in the world with this app (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone)
  • Duolingo: Free language-learning app that tests vocab, grammar, reading, writing, and listening skills (iPhone, Android)

*Especially recommended for students studying or traveling abroad

A Spanish major requires 27 hours of coursework, and at least three hours required for the major must be taken at the 400-level. Faculty approval is recommended before enrolling in any 300-level course or above. All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the following courses.