Language Learning, Border Studies | Earlham College
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Language Learning

The borderlands is a multilingual region, which presents rich opportunities for linguistic and cultural immersion. You will no doubt hear Spanish, English and Spanglish being spoken regularly, in addition to O'odham and Yoeme. The Border Studies Program offers ample opportunity for exposure to the Spanish language through the Spanish Language Program, travel and the Homestay Program. Additionally, each academic course incorporates readings and/or guest speakers in Spanish and several of the program's weekly activities incorporate Spanish as well. 

The Border Studies Spanish Program includes two components: 1. Español in the Borderlands, facilitated by Cristen Poynter, which meets weekly with all Border Studies students and 2. The Community Spanish Classes, which meets one evening per week for eight weeks. The Community Spanish Classes are open to the Tucson social justice community and is divided into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. The Beginner Class is designed for students with little to no experience in the Spanish language and focuses on gaining basic conversational skills. The Intermediate Level, taught by Josué Saldivar, provides students with the opportunity for extra speaking practice on the weekly themes that are explored in Español in the Borderlands as well as some grammar instruction. The Advanced Level is ran as a book club and is discussion based with an emphasis on vocabulary development. In the Spring of 2019, students in the Advanced class read El Único Destino about a brother and sister who are forced to flee the violent conditions of Guatemala. Each class is taught by a native speaker teacher or volunteer teacher. 

While there is no formal language requirement for the program, Border Studies participants are encouraged to arrive to Tucson with basic conversational skills. Those students that have no experience with the language may choose to gain some language skills through one of the following:

Skype lessons or Language School through Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco (PLQ) in Guatemala.

Spanish Immersion in Nogales, Sonora, México at HEPAC (Located about 70 miles south of Tucson)

Spanish for Foreigners Program at UNAM in Mexico City

During the semester, all students will participate in the Spanish Language Program

A List of Ways BSP Students Improve Their Spanish Language Skills

  • By living with a Spanish-speaking or Bilingual homestay family while in Tucson 
  • By taking advantage of opportunities when appropriate to interact in Spanish throughout extended travel seminars in Mexico
  • Choosing to read some assignments in Spanish or write field journal entries in Spanish
  • By participating in a field study placement where Spanish is the dominant language
  • Engaging in a language exchange with a Tucson community member
  • Immersing themselves in the language as much as possible through Spanish language podcasts (Radio Ambulante), T.V., music, news (Democracy Now! en español), etc.
  • Community Language Classes with native speaking volunteer teachers who facilitate classes for Border Studies students alongside the Tucson social justice community
  • Guest speakers in Spanish and other classes
  • Weekly content-based language classes that incorporate salient topics such as border enforcement and militarization, free trade agreements, food justice, language justice, ethnic studies, art, etc. 
  • Advanced and Native Spanish Speakers may be eligible to participate in the Language Justice Collective, which supports students in gaining sills in interpretation between Spanish and English


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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.