Breaking Boundaries and Meeting the Needs of Today’s Market

One of the major goals at Valparaiso University is to tear down the silos that separate our various experts, and to create an environment where professors can work together to create the best opportunities possible for today’s needs. One brilliant example of that, as well as an example of how the University is pushing to meet the needs of the Hispanic community, is the new Business Spanish certificate program. The certificate is a joint effort by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business, and will provide an amazing opportunity to new and current students alike. 

Professor López Martín

“We know that there are many students now who are more interested in less traditional studies. That’s the demographic that we’re trying to attract,” says Alberto López Martín, Ph.D., assistant professor of World Languages and Cultures and Spanish Section head. “We also know that there are many Latinx students both on-campus and in the region who would be interested in this kind of certificate. Several of the Spanish classes that we offer aim towards what we call Spanish for the professions, or Spanish for a specific purpose.” 

Professor López Martín is very familiar with the business needs of the Spanish-speaking world, having originally graduated with a degree in economics, followed by six years in Spain’s banking sector before pursuing his Ph.D. in Spanish Literature. 

Valpo has offered Business Spanish in the past, but was discontinued due to difficulties staffing the capstone course. The newly revamped program is a standalone certification that can be completed in as little as a year and a half for those already proficient in the language. Not having to commit to a four-year undergraduate program is, according to Professor López Martín, one of its primary selling points.

“We want to make a certificate that is marketable for demographics in the area,” he says. “The wider population is eager for this kind of certificate. Some want to join the workforce. They don’t see the benefit of getting a bachelor’s of arts. That’s the reality of the market.”

The Business Spanish certificate is a great way for Valpo to pursue its long-term goal of becoming a Hispanic Service Institution (HSI), as outlined in the five-year strategic plan Uplift Valpo: Our Beacon for the Journey Forward. While members of the Latinx community may already have Spanish language skills, the certificate program being offered at Valparaiso University will help focus their fluency into a hirable skill.

“We are very aware of the fact that Valpo is trying to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and the Hispanic population is very important to us. We understand that many of these students already have the language — they spoke it at home,” says Professor López Martín. “What they’re lacking in order to make that an asset for their careers is that they need some formal instruction to complement their linguistic skill set.” 

In order to provide this information, many existing Spanish courses have been revised to focus the scope of their instruction on vocabulary, events, and cultural practices that specifically relate to the professional world.

“Many of our classes have taken a professional turn,” says Professor López Martín. “For example, our Contemporary Social Issues in Hispanic Media class now has a specific section where we provide students with the vocabulary to navigate social media management. We try to help them acquire the skills needed to perform these tasks.”

Students will be required to take Business 100 and Spanish 204, which can be pursued concurrently. Students who complete those courses, or who test out of Spanish 204, then choose one from a variety of classes including Topics in Spanish, Advanced Communication in Spanish, Latinx Studies, Spanish for Business and more. This is followed by Spanish 230 and Spanish 231, and finally Management 335 – Spanish Communication in Business as their capstone course. 

Current Valpo students are welcome to declare the certificate as part of their educational track, and Professor López Martín expects the first students to make that declaration this semester. 

Business Spanish is not the only way Valparaiso University combines language with professional needs. The Enhanced International Business in German program has been equipping students with the skills necessary to thrive in the German market, and the Spanish section is in early talks with the College of Nursing and Health Professions on creating a similar certificate program for those students. 
For other ways that Valparaiso University is opening doors for non-traditional students, click here. For more programs being offered by the World Languages and Cultures program, click here.