The United States Census Bureau reports that Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States, with nearly 40 million people using it as their primary language. And, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 51 million people in the US have familial bonds in Spanish-speaking countries.
The International Trade Administration identifies Mexico, after Canada, as the second largest trading partner with the US and nations throughout Central and South America are vital trading partners with the US. There are a variety of practical reasons for deciding to take language courses in Spanish.
Studying Spanish online
Ethnologue identifies Spanish as the first language for more the 414 million people in 31 countries. Thus, many different dialects have emerged. Though starting with Castilian Spanish, the most traditional form, may make sense for some, studying Spanish as it is spoken in Mexico, Colombia or some other nation may be advantageous depending on the student's goals.
To study Spanish online, the student may need to set their computer's operating system to access Spanish-language characters on its keyboard. Students will likely be given choices of the dialect to focus upon when accessing the control panel, or preferences, on a PC or Mac and select Spanish as an option. Some online language courses may also require downloading additional software.
Online Spanish course structure
Traditional universities typically offer language courses, Spanish or otherwise, with the intent of being part of a linear program for a major or minor path. The subjects covered, especially in beginner-level courses, tend to be similar with some slight variation. A review of curricula for various online Spanish courses turned up these subjects:
- Spanish vocabulary
- Grammar and verb conjugations
- Levels of speaking formality and etiquette
- Cultural aspects
The way these subjects are presented to the student can vary depending on the school offering the course. One introductory course at Georgia Tech is primarily administered through Facebook, with students interacting with instructors by replying to posts on the class' group page. A similar online course offered at Oregon State notes on its syllabus that students will be required to post video on the class' discussion board several times during the semester as a supplement to other activities like Spanish grammar and vocabulary quizzes.
Non-college credit options
Students interested in learning to speak Spanish without necessarily earning college credit, may want to consider courses like the ones offered on Verbalplanet.com as an option. Their classes are like tutoring sessions emphasizing one-on-one interaction with the teacher. In addition to written responses to videos, quizzes and other prompts, students may also Skype with their instructor on a regular basis.
"Bachelor of Arts-Spanish." ASU Online. July 25, 2014. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-arts-spanish
"Language Spoken at Home." The United States Census Bureau. July 25, 2014. http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_S1601&prodType=table
"Learning Online at ASU." ASU Online. July 25, 2014. http://asuonline.asu.edu/how-it-works/learning-online-at-asu
"Learn to Speak Spanish Online." Verbalplanet.com. July 25, 2014. http://www.verbalplanet.com/learn-spanish.asp
"Pew Research Hispanic Trends Profile." The Pew Research Center. July 28, 2014. http://www.pewhispanic.org/
"School of Modern Languages." Georgia Tech. July 23, 2014. http://www.modlangs.gatech.edu/courses/gt-spanish-online?destination=node/1247
"Summary by language size." Ethnologue: Languages of the World. July 23, 2014. http://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/size
"Top U.S. Trade Partners." International Trade Administration. July 25, 2014. http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/build/groups/public/@tg_ian/documents/webcontent/tg_ian_003364.pdf