Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People  |
  •  
  •  

collage of photos

Undergraduate Studies

Frequently Asked Questions about the Spanish and Portuguese Program

The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Spanish program. The questions are in two sections. The first section pertains to the Spanish language program (courses from S100 through S250). The second section lists commonly-asked questions about the Spanish major/minor and the Portuguese program (all levels) (courses from S280 and above), including topics related to course registration, ongoing major/minor issues, getting departmental credit for overseas study, and other subjects.

  1. FAQ – Spanish Language Program
  2. FAQ – Spanish Major/Minor and the Portuguese Program (all levels)

1. FAQ – Spanish Language Program (S100-S250)

What is the Language Program?

The language program consists of the beginning and intermediate levels of Spanish language instruction (S100/S105 – S250). The focus of these courses is on learning to speak, comprehend, read and write in Spanish. By completing the highest level, S250, students are prepared to continue with a major or minor in Spanish.

How many Spanish classes do I need to take to fulfill my foreign language requirement?

Candidates for a B.A. degree in the College of Arts and Sciences must demonstrate competency in a foreign language equivalent to four semesters of study of a single foreign language up to and including S250. A student normally earns between 10 and 14 credits to satisfy this requirement, depending on their initial placement, as determined by the placement test.

Candidates for a B. S. degree in the College must demonstrate proficiency through the third semester (S200). Students from other schools (Business, Education, Journalism, Music, etc) should consult with their academic advisor about language requirements.

How do I demonstrate proficiency to meet Foreign Language Requirements?

Students may demonstrate proficiency in Spanish in order to meet the IU General World Education world Languages requirement and/or the College's Foreign Language requirement in three ways:

The placement test is NOT a means for demonstrating proficiency.

If I have already taken Spanish in high school, do I need to take it again?

It is possible to satisfy the Foreign Language requirement for a B.A. in the College of Arts and Sciences by receiving a score of 5 on the AP exam.  All incoming freshmen and many transfer students are required to take the IUB Spanish placement exam. Most students who have taken several years of Spanish place into the intermediate level of the language program. The placement exam may NOT be used to demonstrate proficiency or meet the Foreign Language requirement.

How do I know what Spanish language class I should register for?

All freshmen who have studied Spanish language in high school are required to take the IUB Spanish language placement exam to determine what level of Spanish they should register for. Please go to: http://fye.indiana.edu/fyme/testing.cfm for more information.

Top

Do I earn credits by taking the IUB placement exam?

No. Credits for coursework below your current level are called special credits. Special credit for S200 and/or S250 may be earned by taking the upper level class you placed into and completing it with a C or better.  Examples:

For more comprehensive information about special credits, see our Placement and Special Credit web page.  If you already qualify for Spanish special credits, you can claim them on that page. Native speakers of Spanish or Portuguese should consult the department for testing, course placement options, special credit eligibility, and restrictions on course work in the major and minor.

When is the placement exam offered?

The placement exam is offered online. Incoming freshman are expected to take the placement exam prior to freshman orientation. Please go to http://fye.indiana.edu/fyme/testing.cfm for more information.

Top

Once I know the results of my placement exam, how do I register?

For incoming freshmen you will register at orientation. For all other students, see the schedule of classes at the Registrar’s web page. Click on Calendars and Schedules for active class numbers, times and days for this semester.

Do I need to take Spanish if I transferred to IU from another university and took Spanish there?

This will depend on how your credit transfers and appears on your transcript. Most transfer students need to take the placement exam. If you are in doubt as to whether you need to take the exam, please call or visit the main office of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Ballantine Hall 844; phone: (812) 855-8376, option 4).

Do I have to take a language if I am a native speaker of Spanish or if I have been raised in a bilingual environment? 

It is the policy of the College that students whose native language is not English may not earn credit for courses at the 100- or 200-level in their native language. In most cases, students whose native language is not English are exempted from the foreign language requirement.

The basic guideline used by the University in implementing this policy is that if the student has graduated from a high school abroad where instruction is not delivered in English, he/she is exempt from the foreign language requirement. Puerto Rican students, however, are not subject to this policy and thus are eligible for language credit at any level.

If you are a native speaker of Spanish and are interested in taking courses in the Department at the 300-level and above, you should make an appointment to speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies by calling (812) 855-8376, option 4 or visiting Ballantine Hall 844.  (Native speakers of Spanish may be able to test out of S280 and S308 by achieving a high score on special departmental exams.) 

Top

What is the difference between S100 and S105?

S100 and S105 are both introductory Spanish courses. Enrollment in S100 is restricted to students who are true beginners or have less than 2 years of high-school study. Consent from the department is needed prior to Registration.  S105 is designed for students with two or more years of high-school study and covers the essential grammar and vocabulary of first-year Spanish.

What if the language course I need to take is full and I’m placed on the waiting list?

If you are placed on a waiting list for a course in the language program, you will be notified automatically via your IUB email account if you have been added to the course.  The Computer Schedule Adjustment runs through Friday of the first week of classes.  The waiting list for the language program courses is managed exclusively by Computer Schedule Adjustment during this period, not by individual instructors.  After the Computer Schedule Adjustment is finished, you will not be able to add a language program course.  If your waitlist request is not satisfied by the end of the Computer Schedule Adjustment period, you will need to register for the course the following semester.

Is there a lot of homework for the classes in the language program?

There is a fairly substantial homework load for the basic language classes. The courses in the language program are supported by Proyecto Ancla, an interactive web-based program designed specifically for the Spanish courses offered in the language program at IU to integrate technology in the classroom. Homework consists of vocabulary, grammar, and listening/reading comprehension exercises. You will be permitted to access the Ancla website once you have registered for your Spanish class.

Top

Where can I practice my Spanish outside the classroom?

There are several options for practicing your Spanish at IU:

Café Hispano. To develop your oral proficiency and listening comprehension skills in a fun, casual and open environment, you can attend the weekly Café Hispano. You can have something to eat or drink or just listen and chat. Information on the times and locations of the Café Hispano can be found in your course syllabus, or contact the Spanish undergraduate office.

Service Learning Program. This is a one-credit service-learning course that allows students of S250 to complement their communicative language learning experience in the classroom with service in the Bloomington community.  S250 students volunteer at a Bloomington service-learning site, incorporating their knowledge of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in real-world situations, such as teaching basic Spanish and presenting cultural activities to elementary school children. This eight-week course is an excellent opportunity for students who plan to pursue a major or minor in Spanish or for students whose Spanish will be relevant in their future careers. This is not offered every semester so check the schedule of classes and course descriptions.

Conversation Club/Coffee Hours.  Sponsored by the Office of International Services, this club gives you an opportunity to interact with native speakers of Spanish from different countries and is a good place to find a conversation partner with whom you can plan other activities.

Latino Cultural Center (La Casa). La Casa sponsors many activities, both on campus and in the community, that will provide you with valuable opportunities to practice Spanish in a variety of settings.

OneStart features a link under the IU Bloomington Classifieds called “Activity Partners”. You can check to see if there is someone looking for a conversation exchange on the website or you can post your own ad.

What should I do if I am not doing well in my Spanish class?

Your instructor is required to hold office hours each week. Make a list of your questions and/or concerns and attend your instructor’s office hours. If these hours conflict with your class schedule, speak with him/her about arranging an alternate time to meet. Most instructors are very flexible and will be willing to meet with you to discuss ways to improve your performance in the class.

You can drop by BH 328 for our open tutor lab to meet with an instructor from the Spanish Language Program. Check your course syllabus for more information.

A list of tutors for the current semester is available on the Ancla website under the Ayuda tab. These tutors are usually Associate Instructors who have taught several courses in the Language Program. They charge independently for their services.

What if I want to take an incomplete in my current Spanish language class and finish it at another time?

A final grade of I (Incomplete) is rarely assigned in our department and may only be considered an option in cases where an unexpected and extreme situation—such as a personal or medical emergency—prevents a student from completing the final major assignment(s) of the course. A student must be passing the course in order to be considered for an incomplete and the request must be made after the automatic “W” deadline has past. A petition for an incomplete must be accompanied by appropriate and verifiable documentation and should be presented to the Director of Language Instruction in Ballantine Hall 844. Call (812) 855-8376, option 4 to make an appointment.

Incompletes are not issued due to chronic missed work or absences over the course of the semester; a withdrawal is more appropriate for such students.

Top

What should I do if I want to drop my Spanish class?

In order to drop your Spanish class, you should go to Onestart and submit a Drop/Add request before the automatic “W” deadline.

What are my options for studying abroad if I am not going to be a Spanish major?

If you are interested in complementing your study of Spanish at IU or completing your degree requirements with an immersion experience in a Spanish-speaking country, there are many IU-administered and IU co-sponsored programs available for summer, semester or full-year study in Spain and Latin America.  Detailed information on Spanish language programs can be found at the website of the Office of Overseas Study.  The OVST office, located in the Leo R. Dowling International Center, provides information sessions, materials on programs, and advisors who can answer all your questions about studying abroad.

The OVST website is highly informative about all aspects of overseas study at IU.  It lets you search for Spanish programs using various criteria such as academic term (fall, spring or summer), country and language level.  The site includes separate links with information and instructions for applying to IU-sponsored and non-IU programs. Note: It is strongly recommended that you choose an IU-sponsored program for study abroad, since the academic and administrative quality of these programs has been well ascertained through IU’s extensive experience with them.

What do I do if I decide that I would like to declare a minor/major in Spanish?

A major or minor in Spanish can open many new academic and professional opportunities for you, as well as provide opportunities to travel, study, and/or work abroad. If you are interested in a minor in Spanish, all you need to do is fill out a form in the Spanish & Portuguese Undergraduate office (BH 844).  If you want to declare a major in Spanish, you need to set up an appointment to meet with the department’s academic advisor. You can do this by calling (812) 855-8376, option 4.

Top


2. FAQ – Spanish Major/Minor and the Portuguese Program (all levels)

How do I know which Portuguese language course to register for?

If you have no prior experience with Portuguese (or Spanish), you should register for P100 as your first course.  If you have some background in Portuguese, you must meet with the Director of the Portuguese Program in order to determine your correct placement.  If you have some prior experience with Portuguese and/or knowledge of another Romance language (French, Spanish, etc.), you may be placed in P135 (Intensive Portuguese) or higher, depending on your level as determined by the Director.  Note: P135 counts as an elective for the Spanish major.

How do I declare a minor or major in Spanish or Portuguese?

To declare a minor, simply go to the Spanish & Portuguese undergraduate office and request the minor declaration form.  To declare a major, you need to schedule an appointment with the Spanish & Portuguese advisor by calling (812) 855-8376, option 4.  If you are declaring a major in Portuguese, you should also contact the Director of the Portuguese Program, Luciana Namorato.

What sources of information are available to me about the undergraduate program in Spanish and Portuguese?

You can find complete details about major/minor requirements here on our website, as well as course offerings for current and upcoming semesters. The course offerings page also contains links to other resources, including the Spanish & Portuguese pages in the Bulletin of the College of Arts & Sciences, which is the most comprehensive source of information about the program.  The College Bulletin contains program policies and requirements, as well as descriptions for all courses regularly offered by the department.  If you are a major or minor, you should definitely review the Bulletin pages carefully in order to familiarize yourself with all undergraduate program guidelines.

Top

I’m interested in completing an honors thesis in Spanish or Portuguese.  Who do I contact for more information?

Please see our undergraduate Honors page.

I’m a native speaker [of Spanish or Portuguese] and am interested in doing a major or minor in the department.  What course should I take?

Native Portuguese speakers should contact the Director of the Portuguese Program, Professor Luciana Namorato.  Native Spanish speakers should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Call (812) 855-8376, option 4 to schedule these appointments.  Many of our majors and minors are native speakers, but their particular experiences with the language are often quite different.  For example, you may have grown up speaking Spanish or Portuguese at home but never had the opportunity to study or write in the language.  Or you may have grown up attending school in the language and therefore have a relatively advanced written and reading level.  The DUGS and the Portuguese Director can discuss your situation with you in order to determine what course you should start with.

Can I get course credits for Spanish or Portuguese language courses below the level that I placed into?

Yes. These credits are called special credits. You can get special credits for language courses below your placement level by completing S250 or above (for Spanish) or P150 or P135 (for Portuguese) with a C or better.  You can also get special credits in Spanish from having completed a Spanish AP exam (language or literature) with a score of 3 or higher.  For comprehensive information special credit in Spanish and Portuguese and instructions for how to claim that credit, check out the Placement and Special Credit page of this web site.

Top

I’m not sure how I will be able to fit in all my classes before graduation. Where can I get help planning my studies?

Contact the department advisor by calling (812) 855-8376, option 4, to schedule an appointment. She can help you chart out the Spanish or Portuguese courses you will need to take over the upcoming semesters and project how to fit these courses into your schedule within the context of your other academic requirements.

What grade is considered passing in Spanish & Portuguese major/minor courses?

Students working on a minor or major (which starts at S250 for Spanish and P200 for Portuguese), must complete all course work with a C or better in order for the course to count toward the minor or major requirements.

Top

I tested into a S300-level as my first Spanish major/minor course. Does that mean that I can completely skip S250 and S280, which are the first two major/minor requirements?

If you place into the S300-level and pass a validating course, you have automatically earned credit for S250, but not for S280.  You won’t need to take S280, but if you plan to major or minor in Spanish you must replace it with another Spanish course (any course at the 300 or 400 level).

What if a course I want to take is full and I’m put on the waiting list?

If you are put on a waiting list for a course, you will be notified automatically via your IUB email account if you have been added to the course. The Computer Schedule Adjustment runs through Friday of the first week of classes. This means that the waiting list for courses is managed exclusively by Computer Schedule Adjustment during this period, not by the professor or instructor.  After the Computer Schedule Adjustment period has ended and if you still have not been added to the class, you may contact the professor to see if someone has dropped.  However, if no space becomes available, you will need to register for the course during a later semester.  If you are a senior and urgently need to take the course in order to be able to graduate, please contact the Spanish & Portuguese Undergraduate office.

What if I want to take an incomplete in my class and finish it during a later semester?

A final grade of I (Incomplete) is rarely assigned in our department and may only be considered an option in cases where an unexpected and extreme situation—such as a personal or medical emergency—prevents a student from completing the final major assignment(s) of the course. A student must be passing the course in order to be considered for an incomplete and the request must be made after the automatic “W” deadline has past.  The petition form for an incomplete should be obtained from the dean’s office in the student’s school.  In major/minor courses, the decision on whether to grant an incomplete is made by the professor or the course supervisor.  The petition for an incomplete must be accompanied by appropriate and verifiable documentation.  If the professor or course supervisor approves and signs the petition form, it should be brought to Ballantine Hall 844 for the signature of the director of undergraduate studies. Call (812) (812) 855-8376, option 4 to make an appointment.

Incompletes are not issued due to chronic missed work or absences over the course of the semester; a withdrawal is more appropriate for such students, although it must take place before the College’s Withdrawal deadline.

Top

Can I pass my College intensive writing requirement with a course in Spanish or Portuguese?

No. The College does not currently allow students to fulfill the writing requirement in courses taught in languages other than English.

How do I get information about study abroad programs in Spanish and Portuguese, and how do I apply to them?

This website has a page with a list of overseas study opportunities in Spanish and Portuguese and other information about study abroad.  If you are interested in the programs outlined on that page, you should contact the Office of Overseas Studies (OVST) for additional program information and application procedures.  OVST provides information sessions, materials on programs, and advisors who can answer all your questions about studying abroad.  The OVST website is highly informative about all aspects of overseas study at IU.  It lets you search for programs using various criteria such as date, location and academic level.  The site includes separate links with information and instructions for applying to IU-sponsored and non-IU programs.  It is strongly recommended that you choose an IU-sponsored program for study abroad, since the academic and administrative quality of these programs has been well ascertained through IU’s extensive experience with them. Furthermore, many Spanish and Portuguese courses on these programs have already been set up for automatic departmental approval.

Once you have received all the information you need from OVST, you are required to set up an appointment with the Spanish & Portuguese advisor (call 855-8376, option 4) to get pre-approval for the courses for which you want to get departmental credit (see the next question).

How can I make sure that my study abroad courses will be approved for my major or minor?

Many courses taken on IU-sponsored programs are already approved, but as new courses become available on these programs, they require departmental review, and that review can only take place when students sign up for them.  In addition, most non-IU program courses will also require departmental approval before you can apply them to your major or minor.  Whether you are going on an IU-sponsored or non-IU program, you must set up a pre-departure appointment with the advisor to discuss the courses you plan to take.  The study aboad information page on this website lists the procedures you should follow in order to obtain departmental approval for the courses you plan to take while abroad.  They include the following four steps (see detail at the link under the section “If You Are Going Abroad...”):

(1) Set up a pre-departure appointment with the department academic advisor,
(2) Obtain pre-approvals for your courses,
(3) Stay in touch with the advisor by email while abroad regarding any course registration changes; and
(4) Submit all course materials (syllabus, notes, quizzes, exams, papers, etc.) upon your return.

It is important that you read through the details of these procedures very carefully in order to ensure that your study abroad credits are approved by the department. 

Top

I’m upset that the department did not give preapproval for a course I want to take abroad. The course is taught in Spanish, it’s rigorous, it requires lots of writing in Spanish, and I’m really interested in it.

Although all study abroad courses must be taught in Spanish or Portuguese in order to be approved, just because a course is taught in either of these languages does not mean it will count toward department credit.  To be approved, a course must be similar in content to courses already offered, or potentially offered, in the department.  That includes courses in all areas of Hispanic linguistics, Luso-Hispanic literature and film, and Luso-Hispanic culture.  We do not grant study abroad credit for courses taken in other fields.  If you want to get credit in courses from other disciplines, you need to request the equivalence from another department at IUB.  The advisor can tell you which department would be the most appropriate.

Keep in mind that all of the major/minor courses in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese above the level of the advanced grammar courses (S280 and P311)—and with the exception of the advanced conversation courses (S317/P317)—have a distinct disciplinary content; i.e., they are no longer primarily focused on language learning.  Thus, students who have already taken S280/P311 or S317/P317 cannot receive credit for a study abroad course based merely on the justification that it provides additional practice in the language.  All study abroad courses approved for departmental credit above the level of S280/P311 (again, with the exception of S317/P317) must be justified by their academic/topical content, not just by their language of instruction.

The department certainly considers the linguistic preparation of its students to be a primary and ongoing objective; but we are just as concerned with challenging students’ critical thinking in all our courses, and particularly at the upper level.  The experience of thinking and communicating critically in a second language, in a context of exposure to other cultural perspectives, is an invaluable and vital experience, one that students will not get in courses taught in English.

I want to take a Spanish/Portuguese course at another U.S. university or another IU campus and have it count toward my minor/major.  How can I find out whether the course will transfer?

If you are planning to take courses at another IU campus, you should first talk to the department advisor.  Many or most Spanish or Portuguese courses at other IU campuses will transfer back to IU automatically and the department accepts them without requiring a special review, but the advisor can tell you whether a given course is appropriate for your level or whether a given IU campus offers the course(s) you need.  There can also be differences in course numbers between one IU campus and another, and the advisor can help you navigate these complications (for example, “S328” at some of the regional campuses is not the same course taught at IU Bloomington under the same course number). Once the department has given the go-ahead for the course(s), you should visit the Admissions web site for more information about getting an inter-campus course transfer processed.

For courses you wish to take at another U.S. university, you should first check the “Credit Transfer Service” page on the Admissions web site. This site will give you all the information you need to know about getting a course transfer approved.  There is also an extensive, searchable database on this site which lists courses from other universities which have been already approved, whether for IUB undistributed credit or additionally, for specific departmental credit.  If this database does not list the course (or the program/institution) you are looking for, you will need to fill out the Credit Transfer Agreement Form, which is found on the same web site, in order to petition the Admissions department to accept the course.  To get Spanish/Portuguese major/minor credit for a course that does not already appear as departmentally-approved on the Admissions database, you will need to set up an appointment with the department advisor.  The advisor will consult with the DUGS in order to determine whether the course can count toward the major/minor.  Final assignment of departmental credit will take place once you have completed the course and after it has been received and processed by Admissions as undistributed credit.

What additional opportunities are there for me to converse and socialize in Spanish and Portuguese at IU?

At IU there are a number of opportunities for practicing your language skills outside of the classroom:

Café Hispano and the Cafezinho. The Café Hispano (for practice in Spanish) and the Cafezinho (for Portuguese) provide an informal way for you to converse and socialize in either of these two languages while having something to eat or drink.  Café Hispano meets weekly and Cafezinho meets once a week during the academic year. Information on times and locations can be found in many Spanish and Portuguese course syllabi, or by contacting the undergraduate office.

Spanish Conversation Club.  Sponsored by the Office of International Services, this club gives you an opportunity to interact with native speakers of Spanish from different countries and is a good place to find a conversation partner with whom you can plan other activities.

Latino Cultural Center (La Casa). La Casa sponsors many activities, both on campus and in the community, that will provide you with valuable opportunities to practice Spanish in a variety of settings as well as to stay informed and involved in Latino-related issues.

OneStart features a link under the IU Bloomington Classifieds called “Activity Partners”. You can check to see if there is someone looking for a conversation exchange on the website or you can post your own ad.

Top