Spanish is one of the six working languages of the United Nations and the official language of twenty-one countries and regions globally, such as Spain, Equatorial Guinea and most countries in Latin America. It is also the first foreign language of the United States. According to the statistics of Cervantes College in Spain in 2019, the number of Spanish-speaking people has reached about 560 million in the world. Since the beginning of the 21st century, with the enhancement of China's composite national strength and the furthering of the reform and opening-up, the exchanges and cooperation between China and Spanish-speaking countries have become increasingly close in politics, economy and culture, and the demand for professionals of Spanish in China keeps increasing. Facing the requirements of the development of the new era and the national development, the Spanish major at Soochow University advances firmly and pursues excellence.
The School of Foreign Languages of Soochow University began to recruit full-time Spanish major students from 2010, with a four-year educational system and **all-class teaching mode (less than 25 students per class). The main courses include general education courses and freshman seminars, language knowledge courses (Basic Spanish, Advanced Spanish, Audio-visual Speaking, Reading, Grammar, Writing); literature and culture courses (Social and Cultural Courses of Spanish Countries, Spanish Literature, Latin American Literature); courses of advanced skills (Spanish-Chinese Translation, Spanish-Chinese Interpretation), and research-oriented courses (Thesis Reading and Writing, Thematic Research), etc.
The Spanish major of Soochow University has built up its own characteristics in student development, international education, discipline competition and foreign exchanges. This major has produced a number of excellent graduates that starts to shine in various industries. As a newly-developed major, the Spanish major has been playing a role in Chinese academics, recognized by the society, and enjoys a good reputation among students and parents.
Remarkable achievements have been made in student development.The students performed well in the EEE-4 and EEE-8 tests; in 2016, the excellent rate of EEE-4 amounted to 100%. Many students received various scholarships at national, university and college levels, and many perform well in various competitions at all levels, some even won prizes in CCTV Spanish contest, "FLTRP Cup" National Spanish Speaking Contest and the Writing Contest held by Embassies and Consulates of Spanish-speaking countries in China. Two students have won the second prize in the Han Suyin International Translation Competition (the first prize vacancy), one the second prize in the Second National Spanish Language Competition, one the champion of the Writing Competition by Cuban Embassy in China, and the first prizes in the Essay Competition of Ecuadorian Embassy in China in 2014-16 and 2019. Also, students present good research abilities as many of them receive Soochow University’s Student Extracurricular Research Funds and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition Projects.
Professional education has been increasingly internationalized. Soochow University establishes good cooperative relations with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Lairida and the National University of La Plata of Argentina, and has signed the exchange agreement of students majoring in Spanish. In recent years, many students have received "Excellent Undergraduate Program", "Governmental Cooperation Project between China and Mexico" and "Intergovernmental Cooperation project between China and Colombia" sponsored by China Scholarship Council. Several students have won the "Excellent Undergraduate Overseas Exchange Scholarship" of Soochow University. They have been to universities in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina or other countries for one semester or one year. Overall, the rate of studying abroad reaches 60%.
Graduates boast high career potential. In recent years, the employment rate of graduates is nearly 100%; some graduates are admitted to Beijing Foreign Studies University, Shanghai International Studies University, East China University of Political Science and Law, Columbia University, University of Barcelona, Barcelona Autonomous University, ESADE Business School, Comptons University in Madrid, Warwick University and other well-known universities at home and abroad to study for the masters degree. Excellent graduates are employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Jiangsu Provincial Department of Commerce，major state-owned banks, PricewaterhouseCoopers (UK), Huawei, Fosun Group and Haitong Securities. Moreover, excellent alumni teach at Macao University of Science and Technology, East China University of Political Science and Law, Xi’an International Studies University, Suzhou Foreign Language School, Suzhou International Academy BFSU and other schools in Suzhou and surrounding areas.
The department is equipped with a teaching faculty of high quality. There are seven full-time teachers and two foreign teachers. One of them is under the title Jiangsu Provincial Qinglan Project’s Outstanding Backbone Teacher. The main research fields of the department include Spanish national literature in the 20th century, comparative linguistics, Spanish language teaching, comparative literature, translation and cross-cultural studies between China and Latin America, etc. In the past five years, four monographs have been translated and more than 20 academic papers in particular high-level papers (SSCI, A&HCI, Scopus) have been published. Also, the faculty of the department participate three national research projects, two projects sponsored by the Ministry of Education, and five projects sponsored by Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education and Suzhou. In terms of individual achievements, two teachers are awarded Jiangsu Provincial Government Scholarship to study in Spain; two are funded by the Ministry of Education of Spain for short-term study in Spain; and three won the first and second prizes in the Classroom Teaching Competition for Young Teachers of Soochow University.
The department is an active participant in academics. Since the establishment of this major, its development has been appreciated and supported by Huang Zhiliang and Tang Baisheng (Ambassadors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Chen Zhongyi (member of the academic department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Professor Lu Jingsheng (Chairman of the Spanish Instruction Committee of the Ministry of Education), Professor Liu Jian and Professor Chang Fuliang (Deputy Chairmans of the Spanish Instruction Committee of the Ministry of Education), and Professor Yuman (Secretary General of the Spanish Instruction Committee), Professor Zheng Shujiu (President of the National Research Association of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American literature), Dr. Fan Ye (Director of the Department of Western Portuguese of Peking University), Dr. Zhang Weijie (Director of the Department of Western Languages of Nanking University), and other experts and scholars in this field. Well-known scholars and experts including Mr. Darío Villanueva (former President of the Royal Academy of Sciences), María Fachal (Education Counselor of the Spanish Embassy in China), Karina Morales Herrera (Consul General of Ecuador in Shanghai), Rodrigo Arcos (Culture Minister of Argentina Consulate General in Shanghai), Professor Edgardo Nosseto and Norberto Consani of Argentina's Laplata National University, Professor Javier Terrado, Professor María Angeles Calero and Professor Julián Acebrón and other well-known foreign scholars are invited to visit the Department of Spanish and give lectures for Spanish majors.
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