Beginning next year, University students will no longer have the option to take Spanish 1001 during spring semester.
The department will no longer offer the introductory course during the spring to avoid the bottlenecking effect of too many students moving through the program with not enough instructors to teach them.
Spanish 1001 will continue to be offered in both fall and summer sessions.
“What we want to do is to concentrate the beginning of Spanish in the fall semesters,” said Richard Skaggs, interim associate dean for the academic program. “If we start with that kind of pattern, we feel that we can better serve students starting out and then continuing through the sequence.”
This type of scheduling will allow a more continuous flow of students through the program.
Skaggs also stressed that while Spanish 1001 will no longer be offered during spring semesters, more introductory classes will be available during the fall.
“It’s really to give the Spanish department a better handle on the flow of students through the program, because it’s a very high-demand program and you’ve got to make it as effective and efficient as you can,” he said.
The program will be assessed in a few years to determine if the restructuring accomplishes its goal.
With the fairly new Spanish 1022 program offered since last year, Spanish 1001 is not in such high demand as it was in the past.
“More and more we’re seeing students coming to the University at a much higher level than they used to,” said Susan Villar, interim director of language instruction for the department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Since most students have had some prior Spanish instruction, they can often bypass the introductory 1001 and 1002 courses, moving directly into Spanish 1022.
In fact, in order to avoid “false beginners” — students who have some working knowledge of the language — the Spanish department requires students registering for 1001 and 1002 to show high school transcripts proving they haven’t taken courses.
There are not enough Spanish instructors to accommodate all of the courses now being offered, said Villar.
Last year, 154 students registered in eight sections of Spanish 1001, compared to 631 students enrolled in 31 sections of 1003.
About 55 percent of students who take a language at the University take Spanish courses, Villar said.
For instance, compared to 28 sections offered for German courses 1001-1004, there are 75 Spanish sections available in 1001-1004 courses, a reflection of the high interest in the language.
“We’re so overloaded in Spanish. So many students want to take Spanish,” Villar said, adding that the opportunities in the Twin Cities to use the language are greater than most of the other languages offered at the University.
Yet, while the number of students continues to increase, she said, the number of faculty remains low.
“For that reason, we always figure that it is always better to keep the students who have already begun the sequence to keep them moving, rather than get them into the sequence and then tell them, ‘We don’t have enough classes for you.'”
College of Liberal Arts counselors do not foresee problems with the new structure.
The change will not keep students from fulfilling their language requirements, said Claudia Hasegawa, community coordinator for the CLA languages and mathematics students community.
“Generally, if it’s going to inconvenience anybody, it would be those students who wait too long to start the language,” Hasegawa said.