New degree to open doors

By Jose Rojas

East Los Angeles College is now offering a Transfer Associate of Arts (AA-T) degree in Spanish that will help students open doors to California State Universities.

This new AA-T degree in Spanish will benefit students by making them better candidates for high-paying jobs that require bilinguals.

Students with this degree will also receive admission priority and guaranteed admission with junior status to the CSU system.

Modern Language Department chairperson Dr. Norma Vega says the demand for a bilingual workforce is huge, but language skills need to be fully developed.

“Their English is much more dominant. So when it comes to high-paying jobs in translation and interpretation, for example, many of our bilingual Latinos may not be ready for these positions, since their Spanish skills need to be more fully developed.

Our program would be a great start for anyone, specifically our Spanish-speaking population, to seriously consider becoming more fully bilingual,” Vega said.

Spanish is the third-most spoken language worldwide and the second in the United States.

More than 400 million people around the world speak Spanish.

It is the official language of 21 countries.

“I think we, the bilingual students, needed a degree like this that (would) help us get a better job. In many cases, being bilingual is not enough.

“Many companies require a degree that proves we are developed bilinguals,” student Brenda Arechigui said.

There are two Spanish programs with different classes and both lead students to an AA-T degree.

The first program is designed for students who have no background whatsoever in Spanish, but are interested in learning it.

These non-Spanish speaker students need to take courses such as Spanish 1, 2 and 3.

Vega said the vocabulary for Spanish 1 is elementary like lápiz (pencil), parque (park), and patinar (to skate).

The other program is designed for the heritage speaker, which is the student who has learned Spanish at home during childhood.

This student needs to start with Spanish 35, a class which is designed especially for Spanish speakers that targets areas of communication that are most challenging for U.S. Spanish-speakers.

Vega said Spanish 35 explores pretty much the same grammar as Spanish 1, but in class, students explore issues of identity and their relationship to the Spanish language.

These students speak the language, but need help developing their reading and writing skills, acquiring sophisticated vocabulary and using advanced grammar.

Vega said students are not  challenged and can become terribly bored if they sign up for the wrong class.

“Students should first come to our department to see where they should start. The current problem we have is that many of our heritage students end up taking Spanish 1, which is the wrong class.

“Our Spanish 1 courses should be reserved for our Asian students, our English-speaking students, or any other student who speaks another language and not Spanish,” Vega said.

Students need to take language classes, a composition class and a few Civilization and/or film classes, like Spanish 9 – Civilization of Spain, Spanish 10 – Civilization of Latin America, Spanish 16 – Civilization of Mexico, or literature courses like Spanish 5, 6 and 12, which cover Mexican Literature.

For more information about this AA-T degree in Spanish, people can visit the Modern Language Department in E3-100E, or go to their website at

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