Inquiries about Spanish and Portuguese programs

For questions about our Spanish program, feel free to email Professor Alicia Muñoz (). Inquiries about the Portuguese program can be directed to Professor Ernesto Ortiz-Diaz ().

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I take a placement exam?

If you are an incoming first year student, there will be information on the orientation website over the summer about the language placement exam. Other students with questions about taking the placement exam should contact Brenda Piatz in Academic Programs (ext. 6036 or piatz@mac).

I did not take the placement exam before I came to Macalester. What do I do now?

Call or email Brenda Piatz in Academic Programs (ext. 6036, or piatz@mac). She can get you set up to take the exam.

What do I do with the score?

There’s a table on the exam website that will tell you what your score means, and which course you should take.

Can I only take the Spanish class recommended by my score on the placement exam? I think I can do much better at a different level.

You are strongly encouraged to take the class recommended by your score. If you feel you need a more fundamental class or more of a challenge, explain your thoughts to your academic adviser and the professor teaching the class you’re interested in taking.

I took the placement exam but I can’t remember my score. How can find out what it was?

Call or email Brenda Piatz in Academic Programs (ext. 6036, or piatz@mac). She can look up your exam score for you.

It is almost the end of the Add/Drop period, I have not taken the placement exam, and I’m not sure if the course I’m in is the right course for me. What can I do? Who do I need to talk to?

If you didn’t take the test, you should be in 101. If you’re bored out of your mind, talk to your instructor.

I am interested in taking the Spanish Proficiency Exam to test out of the language requirement. What should I do?

In order to test out of Macalester’s foreign language requirement, you must take the SAT II with Listening, and score a 620 or better. You cannot “test out” of school’s language requirement with the online placement exam. The online exam is only to help you figure out which class would best suit your ability.

I took the SAT II and scored 620 or higher. Who at Macalester needs to know so I don’t have to take a language class?

If you are an incoming First Year, you should request that SAT send the results to Macalester. If you are taking the test after arriving at Macalester, you can also request that SAT send the results to Macalester, or you can provide a copy to the Registrar’s office and a copy to Academic Programs.

I have studied Spanish before coming to Macalester. Now I am interested in learning Portuguese. Do I still have to take the Spanish Placement Exam?


I LOVE Spanish/Portuguese! I want to be proficient in it. I want to practice it outside of class as much as possible while I study at Macalester. What do you recommend?

Schedule a time with our tutors and have a conversation. Join us for our weekly student-led conversation group, La Mesa de Conversación (check our Facebook page for times and locations, because they change every semester). Find interested classmates, and have a Spanish- or Portuguese-only lunch during the week. Watch Spanish-language TV or read newspapers on the Web. Volunteer in the local Latino community (see the next answer for information on how to do this).

I would like to continue practicing Spanish during the break (winter/summer). What do you suggest?

Find a Spanish-speaking pen pal, IM buddy, or chat room. Listen to local Spanish radio, or find an Internet station. Watch Spanish-language news or telenovelas (soap operas) on cable or on the Internet. Hang out in parts of town where Spanish is spoken more, such as Saint Paul’s District del Sol. You might also volunteer within the Latino community in the Twin Cities or at home. A couple of places you might contact to volunteer are Centro (a social service agency serving the Latino community) and Centro Legal.

I am interested in study abroad programs to immerse myself in the culture(s) of the Spanish/Portuguese-speaking world. What programs does Macalester offer? Which ones does the Department of Spanish & Portuguese recommend?

Here’s our page on study abroad programs.

I would like to study abroad for a year. Is it possible? Who do I need to talk to?

Yes, it is possible to study abroad for a year. Before you get too far in your plans, you should read the Center for Study Away’s website on study abroad.