New name for CSU language department reflects positive shifts

Colorado State University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is being revitalized with a new name, new faces and new projects.

LLCDepartmentThe unit has been renamed “Languages, Literatures and Cultures” to more accurately describe its mission.

“We dropped the term ‘foreign’ for its negative connotations and to better reflect our offerings — American Sign Language isn’t foreign and, in a Colorado context, neither is Spanish,” said Associate Professor Mary Vogl, who became department chair in summer 2014. “We added ‘cultures’ to accentuate this core aspect of our discipline.”

She added that a host of other universities already use the new title for their language departments. The CSU Board of Governors approved the name change on Oct. 2.

“Adding the word ‘cultures’ will simply highlight the inextricable connection between languages and literatures and culture,” Professor Maura Velázquez-Castillo wrote in a proposal for the change. “All languages crystalize in their lexicon and their structures the world view and particular human experiences of their speakers.”

Redesigned courses

A new study abroad program in Spain is among the developments in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (see story at right).
A new study abroad program in Spain is among the developments in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (see story at right).

But the changes in the department go beyond a new title. Vogl said LLC is redesigning important courses using grants from The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT). They include new hybrid, flipped and online formats. For instance, some five-credit-hour introductory courses are being revamped to feature three credit hours taught in the classroom and two credit hours conducted online, giving students more flexibility in their schedules. The department will compare the new format to the old to see if learning outcomes change. In addition, some introductory literature courses in Spanish are getting flipped to have students watch lectures online on their own, saving class time for discussion and group work, Vogl said.

A new experimental class called “Spanish for Animal Health and Care” is the latest in a line of courses for the professions that includes business and translation courses in German, French and Spanish as well as “Spanish for the Medical Professions.” The new course is being offered with support from the College of Agricultural Sciences. The courses are part of an initiative called Culture and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) designed to apply language and culture to a variety of disciplines. A certificate program in “Spanish for the Professions” is being discussed.

Sophie Esch, left, and Silvia Soler Gallego
Sophie Esch, left, and Silvia Soler Gallego

New faculty

In addition to having a relatively new department chair, new faces in LLC include Assistant Professor Sophie Esch, a Latin American cultural studies scholar who works on Mexican and Central American literature and music and was hired last year; Assistant Professor Silvia Soler Gallego, a translation and interpretation scholar who works on audiovisual translation in museums and was hired this year; and Codi Delgadillo, a bilingual administrative assistant hired last spring.

And two of the department’s faculty are developing a new education abroad program in which students will be traveling on a leg of the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago in Spain, walking from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela. (See story at right.)

The department will host an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 in its renovated conference room, Clark C-101. Students, faculty and staff from other departments are invited to attend the event, which will feature refreshments and games.

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures teaches 10 languages and has faculty from more than 20 countries. More information about the LLC is available on the department’s website and Facebook page.

Camino abroad: A Spanish pilgrimage

Colorado State University students now have yet another option for studying abroad, and it involves participating in one of the most famous pilgrimages in the world.

Faculty in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures have developed a four-week program that includes a trip along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

The Camino pilgrimage, also called the “Way of St. James,” dates back to the Middle Ages and was used by Christians to pay homage to St. James, whose remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela, a city on the west coast of Spain that is the endpoint of the journey.

The new program is designed for beginning or intermediate Spanish speakers and involves two courses: an introduction to the culture and history of the Camino taught in English, and a Spanish-language conversation class dealing with the experience of making the historic trek. Students will spend the first week of the course on the CSU campus, and then they’ll travel to Pamplona, Spain, on May 22. They’ll walk along the Camino Francés, or French Way, the most popular route of the pilgrimage, which attracts more than 200,000 people annually.

Esther Venable, an LLC instructor who helped organize the program, says that after a few days of acclimation, the students will visit Roncesvalles, a Pyrenees mountain town in one of the most beautiful areas along the Camino. They’ll walk to Lagroño, in Spanish wine country, then take a bus or train to Sarria, where they’ll walk the final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. They’ll stay there for a few days before flying back to Colorado on June 10.

“It’s combining academics with exercise, because you’ll have to walk every day,” Venable said. “It will be a deep cultural experience, because the Camino served as a pathway for art and ideas to spread.”

Venable and LLC Associate Professor Jonathan Carlyon received a grant from CSU’s Education Abroad office to research the site and create the program.

Applications will be accepted from Nov. 1 to Feb. 15 at, and students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and instructor approval. For more information, email or visit