Skip to main content

Programs in Spanish & Portuguese

Welcome to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Why should you learn another language?

  • Learning other languages helps increase your knowledge of the world by communicating with the global community.
  • Speaking more than one language facilitates the discovery of diverse peoples and societies - their humor, literature, newspapers, television, web sites, movies and more..
  • Research reveals that by studying a foreign language you can improve your analytical and interpretive capabilities, essentially sharpening the skills necessary to succeed in school.
  • Bilingual and multilingual students have the advantage of developing their research projects by studying original documents from other countries, as well as from their own country.
  • Increasingly, global businesses need workers with a variety of skills who can communicate in different languages and understand other cultures.
  • If you have advanced your second or third language skills beyond the basics, learning the sound systems and expressions – if you have broadened your perspective by getting to know a community from the inside – you will have a real advantage in seeking employment in the global market.

Why should you learn Spanish and Portuguese?

  • The three most spoken Western languages in the World are English, Spanish and Portuguese!
  • Being able to communicate in both Portuguese and Spanish is key to understanding the culture and politics of Latin America. This is increasingly important because of the strengthening economic and cultural ties within the Americas - North America, Central and South America.
  • One out of three Latin Americans and one out of every two South Americans speaks Portuguese.

Got a career? Choose the best degree path for your goals:

  • Some of the careers that a major in Spanish or Portuguese can lead to include Interpreting, Teaching, Editing, Publishing, and Scholarship.
  • The skills you develop while earning your degree involve communicative competencies and professionalized Spanish or Portuguese language usage.
  • You also obtain cultural knowledge through the study of literature, linguistics, critical thinking and textual analysis.
  • Careers that are supported by a second major in Spanish and/or Portuguese are too numerous to mention. Some examples include Medicine and Health, Social Work, International Peace, Justice and Development, Business and the Legal System.
  • Some of the most popular first majors that are best complemented by a second major in Spanish and/or Portuguese are Biology and Psychology leading into Pre-Med and Nursing; Sociology, Criminology and Political Science; Pre-Law; Latin American Studies; Communication and/or Journalism; Education and Engineering.

Portuguese in the World

  • Portuguese has over 260 million speakers, and is the fifth most spoken language in the world. It is the third most spoken language in the Western world.
  • Although Portuguese is spoken in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and South America, recently world attention has focused on Brazil as a member of the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
  • Brazil’s GDP (purchasing power) is ranked 7th in the world (2015 est. 3.2 trillion). It has the 5th largest labor force in the world (2014 est. 109.8 million). In terms of natural resources, Brazil is 8th in the world in oil production.
  • In South America, Brazil a global leader in scientific and technological fields, such as bio-fuels, agricultural research, deep-sea oil production, and remote sensing.
  • Brazil and the United States have long enjoyed strong economic and political ties. The two countries have signed and ratified several agreements in the areas of security, bio-fuels, trade, and social policies among others.
  • Due to Brazil’s increasing international prominence, the Department of State has declared Portuguese a language of strategic interest.


Portuguese in the USA

  • Research conducted by Professor Emeritus Milleret identified over 200 institutions in the USA teaching Portuguese, with about 50% of those offering at least a minor in Portuguese.
  • According to the Language Map of the Modern Language Association (MLA) there are Portuguese language speakers in most states in the USA, with the largest populations on both coasts and in the Southeastern USA.


Portuguese at UNM

  • Learning Portuguese will give UNM graduates employment advantages in business, government, non-governmental agencies, and education.
  • UNM has one of the oldest Portuguese programs in the US, with a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, courses and one of the finest library collections in the country.
  • There are study abroad programs for intensive language learning and for one semester or year study at universities in all the major cities in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre.
  • The UNM Portuguese program emphasizes both the culture and the literature of Brazil, and includes classes on popular culture, music, cinema and theater.
  • The Language Learning Center at the University of New Mexico hosts a large and varied collection of over 700 CDs and Brazilian films.