Undergraduate Programs in Spanish


Learn to speak Spanish.  Read about the New World.  Minor, major or even specialize in Spanish.  There are so many great ways to be involved in one of the most active and exciting undergraduate programs in Spanish in the country!


Hispanic culture offers a variety probably unrivalled by any other modern Western culture. In the Middle Ages, Spain was the vital point of contact of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic civilizations. In the early modern period it led the way in the exploration and settlement of the New World, contributing significantly to the evolution of a flourishing Latin American culture. Today it is estimated that Spanish is one of three most widely-spoken languages in the world.

Spanish studies at the University of Toronto are mainly, but by no means exclusively, concerned with the language and literature of the Spanish-speaking peoples. Courses in Hispanic linguistics, in business Spanish, in the history and structure of the Spanish language and literature are complemented by studies of the socio-political, artistic, and intellectual history of both Spain and Spanish America. Spanish and Portuguese form part of the interdisciplinary programs in European Studies and Latin American Studies. To learn about Spanish programs, please go the “Program” tab on this webpage.

Following an introduction to the methodologies of critical analysis as applied to Hispanic texts (SPA258), students have a wide selection of courses on the literatures of Spain and Spanish America: medieval Spanish literature; early modern prose, verse and drama; the modern novel, short story, poetry, drama, film and much more. In all years, the works are read and discussed not only in terms of their individual artistic value but also as illustrations of the outlook and the intellectual climate of their age. Students can also select from a variety of courses in Hispanic linguistics, from an introduction to Hispanic linguistics (SPA322) to courses on Spanish varieties, bilingualism, sociolinguistics, phonetics and structure of Spanish. Visit the “Courses” tab on this webpage to learn about the courses that the department offers beyond the language sequence.

For information about Spanish language courses offered in the department, click the “Language Sequence” tab. You can find out how to choose the course that best corresponds to your level of language knowledge by going to the “Placement test” tab.

In conjunction with Woodsworth College, the department makes two summer courses available in Seville, Spain (SPA100Y and SPA255Y). With the city of Seville serving as the classroom, this program offers courses designed to introduce students to Hispanic culture and the Spanish language. Interested students should contact the Summer Abroad Office at:

Professional & International Programs
Woodsworth College
119 St. George Street, 3rd Floor

For the most current description of specialist, major and minor program in Spanish, please use the link to the Faculty of Arts and Science calendar:


As of 2016-17 academic year, the requirements for specialist, major and minor program in Spanish have changed. Students who have declared the degree in the program previous to 2016-17 year have a choice of completing their degree either (a) by following the new degree requirements, or (b) by following the original requirements that were in force at the time of declaring their degree.

SPA258H: a required course for all students intending to specialize or major in Spanish; highly recommended to all other students who wish to take courses beyond language sequence.

The following are the courses that students need to take beyond the language sequence, and after completing SPA258H, in order to fulfill their degree requirements:

  • one half course in Hispanic linguistics from the 300/400 series: SPA322H, SPA324H, SPA326H, SPA368H, SPA421H, SPA422H, SPA423H,
  • one half course in Spanish peninsular literature from the 300/400 series: SPA341H,  SPA345H,  SPA348H, SPA352H, SPA435H, SPA450H, SPA452
  • one half course in Spanish American literature from the 300/400-series: SPA368H, SPA375H, SPA381H, SPA382H, SPA384H, SPA385H, SPA386H, SPA389H, SPA475H, SPA480H, SPA482H, SPA486H, SPA488H

All students intending to specialize or major in Spanish must also take SPA420H and SPA454H. Students should take the courses at the level adequate to their preparation (i.e., progress from 200-series towards 300-series and 400-series as they progress in their studying career) to assure the best progress and success in their studies.

In addition to the required courses, students can take any additional courses offered to complete up to 10.0 FCEs for a specialist degree, and up to 7.0 for a major. See under “Courses” for the information about what courses are planned to be offered in the coming years, as well as for a list of cognate courses that can be taken towards a specialist, major or a minor degree in Spanish.

For personal consultation, contact the Undergraduate Coordinator by e-mail at: spanport.undergraduate@utoronto.ca

The progression of courses in the language sequence is designed to accommodate a wide range of previous language experience. Students are placed in the appropriate language course based on their proficiency, as determined by the on-line placement test and departmental assessment.

Students with little or no previous knowledge of Spanish should enroll in SPA100Y1.

Students with previous knowledge of Spanish should have their level of language assessed to receive recommendation for proper placement. Please go to the “Placement test” tab on this webpage for further instructions.

Depending on the assessment of their level of language fluency, students who have studied Spanish before joining the department may enroll in several courses –beginners’, intermediate or advanced. This includes those students who have travelled or lived briefly in the Spanish-speaking world.

Those students who have native fluency in Spanish because they have had a life-long exposure to spoken Spanish in an informal context (i.e., those who have lived in a Spanish-speaking country for an extended period of time, or those who live in a Spanish-speaking family) – should enroll in SPA219Y1. Students who qualify for this course have distinctly different learning needs than those students who learned Spanish as a foreign language. They can speak and understand spoken Spanish, but need help with reading, writing and grammar.

What to expect in your language courses?

In SPA100, SPA220 and SPA320, all meetings with the instructors are divided into larger lecture classes, and smaller tutorial sessions. For best results in language courses, students are expected to invest 2 hours of study per every 1 hour of class contact time.  For best results, students are expected to attend all lectures and tutorials. They are expected to come to classes prepared – having thoroughly studied the material assigned for every class meeting – so that they can be familiar with the lecture topics and use language actively in the classroom.

Language learning consists in the acquisition of five skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing and cultural competency. This is the reason why lectures and tutorials are structured differently – they concentrate on practice and acquisition of different language skills. Although they do not do so exclusively, lectures focus on grammar review and practice through analysis of grammar points and exercises. Students acquire language fluency beyond such mechanical knowledge of language through readings, writing exercises, and conversation – activities that are programmed for the smaller tutorial meetings.

All language instruction provides a level of basic cultural information that is later expanded upon in the specialized literature, culture and linguistics courses.

Listening comprehension is an integral part of all class meetings. Instructors introduce more Spanish in the class as one progresses through language sequence from the beginner’s to the advanced level. In SPA100 instructors will use English to communicate administrative issues and some points of instruction, as needed. In SPA220 and in SPA320 Spanish is used as exclusive language of communication in the classroom.

Placement test Results and Language Assessment

If you have not studied Spanish previously, you do not need to take the placement test. Please enroll in SPA100Y.

If you are a native speaker of Spanish (you speak Spanish at home with family and friends, but have not received formal education in Spanish, and need help with reading, writing, and grammar) you do not need to take the placement test. Please enroll in SPA219Y.

If you have learnt Spanish in school, please take the placement test for assessment of your language level.

Instructions for taking the Spanish Placement Test
Instructions for taking the Spanish Placement Test for registered students with a Valid UTOR ID Account:

  1. Log-in to the Portal (http://portal.utoronto.ca)
  2. Click the 'Community' tab
  3. Type "Spanish Placement Test" into the 'Organization Search' box and click 'Go'
  4. On the Search Results page, click the 'Enroll' button beside the listing that comes up for "Spanish Placement Test
  5. Click the 'Submit' button on the next page that appears to confirm the enrolment.
  6. Take the test

Once you have finished taking the placement test, make sure that you:

1. click “Save and Submit”,
2. when the new window opens, click “OK” in the bottom right corner. This will take you to the screen that gives you your test results.
3. Save your results (either copy and paste or take a screen shot) and consult the scale (below) for your recommended placement.



SPA100 advanced SPA220

SPA220 advanced SPA320

TEST 1+2




150- higher (190)



80- higher



77- higher



Numerous factors can influence your result on the placement test, as well as your recommended placement. If you have a strong background in other Romance language (French, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian), your score may be much higher than your actual knowledge of Spanish. This means that you may have high word recognition, but cannot understand, speak or write Spanish at a corresponding level. Consequently, although your placement test results indicate that you should enroll in SPA220 or SPA320, you may need to enroll in a lower level class in order to gain proficiency in the use of the language.

Placement tests are “fuzzy” at the cut-off points. If, for example, your score is 130 points, but you are a highly motivated student, you might do well in SPA220. However, do not overestimate motivation – do refer to the below descriptions of the recommended level of language use for each course.

Please consult the following description of beginner, intermediate and advanced level language ability and the corresponding language courses to help you assess your placement. While the description of language ability is to be read in conjunction with the placement test results, the description of language ability overrides the placement test score.

Scores 0-131 (beginner level) -> enroll in SPA100Y

The test is highly accurate for students who receive a low-end score that places them in SPA100Y. The lower your score below the 131 cut-off point, the stronger is the recommendation for your placement in SPA100, regardless of how long you have been studying Spanish or how motivated you may be.

SPA100Y is for students with little or no knowledge of Spanish. “Little knowledge” of Spanish means that the speakers may understand simple questions after they are repeated to them, and are able to produce a word or a short sentence (1-3 words) in response, but cannot sustain a conversation in Spanish at even a rudimentary level. SPA100 offers a strong review of basic grammar and vocabulary, and, ideally, it brings the student’s language ability up to the Level A2 according to CERF (Common European Reference Framework) for Languages (described below).

If your score is 130 or very close to it, but SPA100Y seems too easy for you, you may consider switching to SPA220. Consult your Course Coordinator or the Undergraduate Coordinator when contemplating this decision.

Scores 132-151 (intermediate level) -> enroll in SPA220Y

SPA220Y offers a strong grammar review; it builds a strong vocabulary base, and places emphasis on language comprehension and production, both written and oral. In that sense, SPA220Y is a repetition of SPA100Y, but at a more advanced and intensive level.

Ideally, students entering this language course

“[c]an understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.” (CERF for Languages – learning, teaching, assessment; Level A2, Basic User)

If this describes your language use, please enroll in SPA220Y. If your language abilities fall below this description (regardless of your placement test score), please enroll in SPA100Y.

If, once you have enrolled in this course, you are considering switching to a different level, consult the Course Coordinator or the Undergraduate Coordinator in the first week or two of classes.

Score 152-185 (advanced level) -> enroll in SPA320Y

SPA320 is an advanced level class that targets specific challenging grammar structures, hones finer points of language and further emphasizes the building of a strong vocabulary base through reading and writing. Most students who enter this course have a relatively good command of Spanish grammar, a relatively good understanding of spoken language, and can express themselves in Spanish with some ease.

Ideally, students entering this course

“[c]an understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.” (CERF for Languages – learning, teaching, assessment – Level B1, Independent User)

If this describes your language use, please enroll in SPA320Y. If your language abilities fall below this description (regardless of your placement test score), please see the description of language abilities for SPA220Y (or SPA100Y).

Testing out of the language sequence

If your placement test score is higher than 190 points, it is possible that you do not need to take any language courses. Ideally, in such case your language skills should be described at a minimum as following:

“Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.” (CERF for Languages – learning, teaching, assessment – Level B2, Independent User)

If this describes your language use, you may skip the language sequence and enroll in literature, culture or linguistics courses. However, if your language use falls below the level B2, refer to one of the previous levels. (If you are a heritage speaker, this does not refer to you – please see the text on the top of the page – “If you are a native speaker…”).

Contacting the department for personal assessment

If you cannot assess your level according to the information provided, copy and paste your placement test results, provide a brief description of your language history (be specific – when, where, and for how long did you study Spanish; how long has it been since you have studied Spanish?) and send this information to the department at spanport@chass.utoronto.ca. Your message will be forwarded to a designated person for assessment and placement recommendation.

The Undergraduate Coordinator, Prof. Yolanda Iglesias, will hold office hours on Mondays from 12pm to 1pm and from 2pm to 3pm. You can speak to her in person in Victoria College (room #208), or over the phone at (416) 813-4082 (please do not leave voice mail messages).

For the most up-to-date listing of courses offered this year,
Click here to view the online Faculty of Arts and Science Registration Handbook and Timetable.

Enrolment in courses

Details of the procedures by which students of the Faculty of Arts & Science register -- enroll in courses for which they are eligible, and pay or make arrangements to pay fees -- are found in the Registration Instructions online: www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/course/timetable.

Winter Session enrollment will be completed in July of the previous year. Observation of rules about pre-requisites and exclusions is the responsibility of the student.


For information on texts to be used, consult the Course Instructor or the Course Coordinator. Prescribed texts and readings are included in the course outline material distributed by instructors during the first week of classes. It is not advisable to purchase any text before the instructor has confirmed the reading list.

Assignments and evaluations

The definitive workload and marking scheme for each course will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the course. The Department is governed by the University Grading Practices Policy.

Handing in term work

Departmental policy with regard to late submission of term work applies to all courses: For work received after the date set by the instructor, one mark out of 100 will be deducted per day (excluding weekends and holidays) up to a maximum of ten days. After these ten days work will not be accepted except on compassionate grounds. It is Faculty policy that all term work without exception must be submitted by the last day of classes in all courses.


In accordance with university policy, the final determination of whether or not auditors can be accepted in a course will be made by the instructor, except when the course has been formally filled. Auditors who are students registered in the university or employees of the university will not be charged an auditing fee except in cases where certificates of attendance are requested. All other must pay an audit fee as established by the university's Policy on Auditing of Courses.


Counseling on general undergraduate matters is available through your College Registrar's office. To discuss specific courses that you are taking or intend to take in Spanish or Portuguese, speak with your instructor or the course coordinator. For advice on your Spanish or Portuguese program (specialist, major or minor), speak with the Undergraduate Coordinator. A composite list of instructors' regular weekly office hours will be available in the department office. If these regular drop-in hours are not convenient, instructors are also available for consultation by appointment.

Course rotation

This three-year course rotation is meant to help students tentatively plant their studies:

YEAR A (2016-17) YEAR B (2017-18) YEAR C (2018-19)
SPA221 SPA221 SPA221
SPA258 Intro Lit. Analysis SPA258 Intro Lit. Analysis SPA258 Intro Lit. Analysis
SPA259 Intro Hisp. Cul. Studies SPA368 Spanish & the Empire SPA254 Cervantes (English)
SPA341 Modernist Movm. Spain SPA345 Spanish Cinema SPA435 Fictions Contemp. Spain
SPA348 Galdós & the Realist Novel

SPA352 Court & Country SPA450 Medieval Iberia SPA452 Early Mod. Theatre
SPA454Don Quijote SPA454Don Quijote SPA454Don Quijote
SPA375 LatAm Cinema SPA385 Lit&Social Change-LatAm SPA386 Lit Landscapes-Mex
SPA384 Avant-Garde–LatAm SPA381 Nation, Ident, Mod LatAm SPA382 LatAm Women-Art, Film, Lit
SPA480 Icons & Iconography-LatAm SPA475 21st Cent LatAm Culture SPA486 Caribb Lit & Identities
  SPA482 20th Cent LatAm Narratives SPA488 Central Am Postwar Narratives
SPA389 Central Am War Narratives SPA468 Special Topics LatAam  
SPA420 Advanced Grammar SPA420 Advanced Grammar SPA420 Advanced Grammar
SPA322 Intro Hispanic Linguistics SPA322 Intro Hispanic Linguistics SPA322 Intro Hisp Linguistics
SPA324 Span Bilingualism SPA 326 LatAm Varieties SPA324 Span Bilingualism
SPA421 Structure of Spanish SPA423 Spanish Phonology SPA421 Structure of Spanish
SPA422 Spanish Socioling.   SPA422 Spanish Socioling

This is a tentative listing of courses that the department plans to offer in the upcoming academic years. While the department intends to respect this rotation as much as possible, the department is not bound by this scheduling, which may change without further notice. Students must consult the official listing of courses in the FAS timetable offering for each year, and consult the FAS calendar for the full title, description of, and pre-requisites and exclusions for the courses they intend to take.

The FAS calendar (https://fas.calendar.utoronto.ca/section/Spanish) and the official sessional timetable listings (http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/course/timetable) take absolute precedence over this tentative rotating schedule.

A student may take up to any 2.0 FCEs in cognate courses towards a specialist degree, and up to any 1.0 FCE  in cognate courses towards a major in Spanish or Portuguese. 

Students pursuing a minor in Portuguese or Spanish can only take 1.0 FCE in Spanish or Portuguese language courses as cognates. This means that students minoring in Portuguese may take 1.0 FCE in Spanish language courses, and students minoring in Spanish may take 1.0 FCE in Portuguese language courses. 

HIS 291Y1 Latin America: The Colonial Period
HIS 292Y1 Latin America: The National Period
HIS 301H1 Imperial Spain
HIS 336H1 Medieval Spain
HIS 390Y1 Latin America in the Age of Revolution
HIS 441H1 Conversion and Christianities in the Early Modern Spanish World
HIS 456Y1 Black Slavery in Latin America
LAS 200H1 Latin America: History, Civilization, Culture (to 19th century)
LAS 201H1 Latin America: History, Civilization, Culture (20th century on)
JLP 315H1 Language Acquisition
POL 305Y1 Politics and Society in Latin America
POL 442H1 Topics in Latin American Politics
LIN 100Y1 Introduction General Linguistics
LIN 228H1 Phonetics
LIN 229H1 Sound Patterns
MUS 305H1 Latin American and Caribbean Music
GGR341H1 Changing Geography of Latin America

Language Cognate Courses for Specialist/Major/Minor in PRT:
SPA 100Y/219Y/220Y/320Y 

Language Cognate Courses for Specialist/Major/Minor in SPA:
PRT 100Y/120Y/220Y/320Y

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese participates in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Language Citation initiative for Spanish. For a full description of the Language Citation requirements, see the Calendar in the “Degree Requirements” section.

To complete the language citation in Spanish students will normally complete the two language-sequence courses that follow the introductory level:


Native and bilingual speakers should complete SPA219Y1 and two additional half-courses in Spanish in the 300- or 400-series.

If the students have an advanced level of language and start with advanced language classes, or do not need to take courses in the language sequence, they need to take the equivalent of 2.0 FCE in the 300 or 400-series of courses. Students need to obtain a minimum of B- in order to obtain the citation.

Students should note that, as explained in this Calendar, the Language Citation is not equivalent to an academic program and that enrolment in a program is not necessary in order to earn the recognition bestowed by the Citation.

To request the citation, e-mail your request with your student ID number to: spanport@chass.utoronto.ca