Stellenbosch University introduces Spanish to its curriculum

Stellenbosch University has introduced Spanish to its curriculum. Picture: Stellenbosch University / Facebook

Stellenbosch University has introduced Spanish to its curriculum. Picture: Stellenbosch University / Facebook

Published Feb 9, 2024


Stellenbosch University (SU) in the Western Cape, along with its Department of Modern Foreign Languages, announced on Friday it will be introducing Spanish to its curriculum, thanks to an agreement with the Spanish government.

The university signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Spanish officials in December to formalise the establishment of a Spanish lectorate at the institution.

SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wim de Villiers said the collaboration marks a pivotal moment for cultural and education exchange.

“This MOU aids SU in our goal to build networks and foster new partnerships across the globe.

“Learning Spanish opens doors to more than just another language; it also creates opportunities that encourage students to engage with the cultures of numerous Spanish-speaking countries in the world, from Europe to Latin America. This is a significant development for the Department of Modern Foreign Languages,” De Villiers said.

Consul General of Spain in Cape Town, Jesús Silva conveyed a message of gratitude and congratulations on behalf of the Spanish government.

“The signing of the Memorandum between Stellenbosch University and the government of Spain concludes a process of almost two years of work to establish a Spanish lectorate in this prestigious academic institution.

“It brings not only language, but also culture and arts from the Spanish-speaking world, a community of 500 million people – a wide window to more knowledge and intellectual richness,” Silva said.

The Spanish Ambassador to South Africa, Raimundo Robredo Rubio extended his gratitude to the university.

“This is an important contribution to strengthen our bilateral relationship. Very few universities in the world have been chosen this year to create a new lectorate, and Stellenbosch was one of them,” Rubio said.

Professor Catherine du Toit, the chairperson of Modern Foreign Languages at SU said incorporating Spanish into the department has been a lifelong dream.

She said Spanish is the second most spoken language globally as a mother tongue.

“It is crucial for students to engage with a language that has a widespread and growing influence on the global stage. In an era of globalisation, effective, authentic human communication is paramount,” Du Toit said.

She said there is economic significance of this collaboration.

“The Spanish-speaking world, particularly Latin America, is home to emerging economies. Proficiency in Spanish is an excellent ability for young graduates seeking opportunities in international business, trade, and collaboration. Knowledge of Spanish can be particularly beneficial for students interested in careers related to technology, especially in markets where Spanish is prevalent,” Du Toit said.

She said the integration of Spanish will not only focus on language proficiency, but also cultural diversity and contemporary literature.

“Contemporary Spanish literature reflects the diverse cultures and experiences within the Spanish-speaking world. Authors from different Hispanic countries contribute to a rich tapestry of narratives that resonate with modern readers,” Du Toit said.

The presence of a Spanish lecturer would enable the department to give more momentum to the existing public programme of Spanish evening classes at the university.

“Spanish literature and film will also feature in our future coursework MA in Comparative Literature. If all goes well, we hope to later include Spanish in our official undergraduate curriculum, aligning with the language’s global relevance, cultural diversity, and economic significance.

“As students and colleagues engage with the language, it will not only enhance their cultural and linguistic proficiency, but also position them for a competitive edge in the contemporary job market,” Du Toit said.