Border Studies Program


  • We are still accepting applications for the Spring 2015 Border Studies Program! The deadline for applying is October 17, 2014. Apply now!
  • The BSP is excited to announce that we have new staff and family member, Alisha Vasquez! Read her bio and a brief Q&A here!
  • Maddie Taterka, Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and Fall 2012 BSP Alum, recently published a piece on the detention of child migrants in Arizona.
  • Spring 2014 Border Studies Program alum Alex Cook is working this summer with migrant advocacy group Migrant Justice. Read about his work with the Vermont based organization here.
  • Marcos Ramos, Earlham grad and Spring 2013 BSP alum is spending his summer in his native Brazil after having won a Davis Project for Peace Grant for his project “Navigating Discourses of Sexuality: Resistance to Homophobia in Brazil”. Read more here.
  • Read the participants' updates from the Borderlands and follow their experiences throughout the semester at our Border Studies blog.
  • Read BSP Instructor Katie Sharar's piece for NACLA's Border Wars blog on immigration enforcement in Texas' Big Bend region.
  • Click below to check out our Facebook & Twitter pages and follow what the BSP is currently up to!
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Language Learning

Courses | Supervised Field Study | Language Learning | Living Arrangements | Cultural Excursions |
How To Apply

A photo of a sign advertising groceries, in both English and Spanish, at the Sasabe store in Sasabe, Sonora.

The border region is a linguistically diverse area that offers many opportunities for students to practice Spanish.

The borderlands is a bilingual region, which presents rich opportunities for language learning. You will no doubt hear both Spanish and English being spoken in various locations. You will also hear creative and fascinating uses of language. The Border Studies Program offers flexibility in language use and offers programming for those with higher-level language skills as well as for those who are newer to Spanish.

Two years of college-level Spanish (or equivalent) are required prior to the beginning of the Spring semester program. Students with more Spanish language skills will find their language level to be very beneficial. BSP staff encourage all participants to improve their Spanish as much as possible before the program begins.

Prior to arrival in Tucson, student Spanish language ability is evaluated by the BSP Spanish Instructor. According to the range of Spanish language experience exhibited by the group, language ability appropriate classes are formed by the Spanish language instructor.

Spanish Language and Borderlands CultureTapestry

All Spanish coursework blends an examination of borderlands culture and the themes touched on in the other program coursework with Spanish language instruction. Coversational skills are emphasized over grammar in Border Studies Program Spanish courses, though both are covered. One of the goals of the program is to prepare students to interact in Spanish language with folks we meet during travel and field study experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting.

Other Ways BSP Students Improve Their Spanish Language Skills

  • By taking advantage of using and practicing Spanish, you can ask to live with a Spanish- speaking or Bilingual homestay family while in Tucson 
  • By taking advantage of opportunities when appropriate to interact in Spanish throughout extended travel seminars in Mexico
  • Choosing to read some assignments in Spanish
  • Participating in a field study placement where Spanish is the dominant language
  • Interacting in Spanish as much as possible
  • Listening to Spanish radio stations, watching TV programs in Spanish, and reading other materials in Spanish

Heritage Speakers of Spanish and Advanced Spanish Speakers

Program participants that arrive in the borderlands with the ability to speak Spanish at an advanced level are assigned an Independent Study Project that is conceived of and organized with the assistance of Border Studies Program faculty.


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