Spanish for Heritage Speakers Program

Marquette University offers a language program for heritage speakers of Spanish: SPAN 3005 and SPAN 3505. Both courses count toward any of the three majors or minors our department offers; Span 3505 also counts as a Writing Intensive Requirement (WIR) for the Marquette Core of Common Studies. If you are a heritage speaker and you are interested in developing your Spanish, we encourage you to register for our heritage language classes.

Student Testimonial / Testimonio del Estudiante

Yuli Ruiz"Empecé a tomar clases de herencia del departamento de lenguajes desde mi primer año en la universidad. Quería preservar y fortalecer mi español, así que decidí seguir con las clases a lo largo de mis estudios. Las clases de herencia que he tomado en Marquette me han ayudado a comprender mejor a mi comunidad, ya que estudio especialización en justicia y bienestar social con segunda especialización en el español para las profesiones. Al ser inmigrante en Estados Unidos, mi idioma es una de las únicas cosas que me une a mi país, así que me siento muy agradecida y afortunada al poder tomar estas clases." – Yuli Ruiz Márquez

Still Undecided?

  • Do not be concerned if you do not have much experience reading or writing in Spanish, or if you don’t feel you can speak the language fluently.
  • Do not be concerned if you did not take Spanish in high school. Our heritage classes are open to students who may or may not have had formal instruction of the language
  • Our courses build on what you already know and take into account the experiences of growing up connected to the language and to Spanish-speaking cultures.
  • Most of our heritage speakers were born and raised in Milwaukee, Chicago, or other parts of the United States. Our heritage courses give you the opportunity to meet other Spanish heritage speakers and develop a strong sense of community.

Heritage Speakers Program FAQs

What courses does the Spanish program offer specifically for heritage speakers and why are they necessary?

Heritage speakers’ academic needs and goals are very different from the needs of native English speakers who learned Spanish as a second language, and also from the needs of native Spanish speakers who attended high school in their native countries.

Our courses for heritage speakers:

  • build on the skills the students already bring to the classroom
  • help students communicate in Spanish using formal varieties of the language
  • develop reading, writing, and public speaking skills via activities that also strengthen knowledge of grammar and spelling
  • foster an understanding of the linguistic practices, cultures, and literatures of Hispanic communities in the U.S.
  • explore issues related to growing up English/Spanish bilingual and bicultural in the U.S. 

The Spanish for Heritage Speakers Program offers two courses for heritage speakers:

  • SPAN 3005. Advanced Communication in Spanish for Heritage Speakers. 3 cr. hrs. Focusses on activities and strategies aimed at improving research, writing, presentational skills, grammar accuracy, spelling and vocabulary. Development of linguistic, sociolinguistic, strategic and discourse competence in different real-life and simulated contexts. Special emphasis placed on reading and lexical development, grammar review, orthographic practice and composition. This course is a prerequisite for all other courses in the Spanish program.
  • SPAN 3505. Introduction to Literary Analysis in Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers. 3 cr. hrs. Acquaints heritage speakers of Spanish with basic literary concepts and analysis of the four genres, the principal literary movements, and representative authors in the Hispanic world. This course is a prerequisite for all other literature courses in the Spanish program. Prereq: SPAN 3005; or cons. of dept. ch. This course counts as a Writing Intensive Requirement (WIR) for the Marquette Core of Common Studies.

What do heritage speakers need to do to enroll in a Spanish course for the first time?

If you are a freshman or you have never taken a Spanish course at Marquette, take the online placement exam here.

  • If you score 426 or above register for Span 3005 (Advanced Communication in Spanish for Heritage Speakers), not for Span 3001 (Advanced Communication in Spanish).
  • If you place below 426, contact Dr. Pilar Bellver ( to determine the best placement for you.
  • If you took the AP Spanish Language and Culture or AP Spanish Literature and Culture exams, you do not need to take the online placement exam.
  • With an AP score of 4 or 5, register for SPAN 3005 (Advanced Communication in Spanish for Heritage Speakers), not for Span 3001.
  • With an AP score of 3 or lower, contact Dr. Pilar Bellver

What can heritage speakers do with Spanish courses?

As a heritage speaker, you can use Spanish 3005 and Span 3505 to:

What courses focus on the history, literatures, and cultures of Hispanic communities in the US?

The following two courses are open as electives to all students of Spanish and will count toward any major or minor in Spanish and also fulfill requirements in different Marquette Core of Common Studies categories:

  • SPAN 4150. Spanish in the United States.
  • SPAN 4400. U.S. Latino/a Literature.
  • FOLA 4931. Introduction to Latinx Studies. 3 cr. hrs.

For full course descriptions and prerequisits, please visit the Marquette Undergraduate Bulletin.

Can heritage speakers receive placement credit for Spanish courses taken in high school?

Yes, students who place in SPAN 2003 (Intensive Intermediate Spanish) or SPAN 3005 (Advanced Communication for Heritage Speakers), and who complete it with a grade of B or better, may be eligible for four hours of placement credit. Placement credits are awarded in addition to the credits earned in the course. These credits only count toward the total hours needed for graduation from Marquette, and cannot be used toward the completion of a major or minor in the language.