Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures

At Pitzer College, Field Groups (similar to a discipline or department) organize major requirements and courses.

Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is a multidisciplinary field group encompassing curriculum and programing in both languages and cultures and in writing. We invite students to see languages and literacies as social practices.  Based on the assumption that communication is always situated, the field group–across its domains of interdisciplinary expertise–engages students to speak, write, and read within communities of practice as co-producers of knowledges. In praxis- and community-based courses in languages, writing, and teaching, students investigate the cultural production, circulation, and uses of communicative practices, exploring how language shapes and is shaped by its diverse practitioners. Students are also equipped with skills to participate meaningfully in the intellectual life of the college and beyond and to reflect critically on the ways in which language mediates identity, power, and culture.

Languages and Cultures


International Scholars Program

Spanish, Portuguese, and French at Pitzer

Pitzer offers language and culture courses in Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Our program focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean, offering courses that approach a variety of sociocultural issues and their intersections from interdisciplinary perspectives. Course topics include environmental issues, popular culture, migration, race, gender, politics, journalism, public health, music, urban culture, literature, and visual and performing arts. 

A community-based approach

Our program is distinctive within the consortium and nationally because of our community-based approach to teaching and learning. Our guiding principle is the deceivingly simple idea that language is a social practice. We believe that students learn and develop cultural competency and global citizenship skills by interacting with communities of speakers. These interactions are local and global. For over 20 years, students have been interacting with local Hispanic families through our Spanish Community-Based Practicum. Our lower-division Spanish students also have the opportunity to develop proficiency through interactions with their Spanish heritage speaker peers who are fellows at the Fletcher Jones Language and Culture Lab. Globally, our virtual learning communities connect our students with English learners in Spain, the French Caribbean, Brazil, and several Spanish-speaking communities throughout Latin America. 

Teaching standards

In addition to these local and global community-based components, our program has a rigorous approach to second language acquisition that is rooted in state-of-the art pedagogical approaches. We follow the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards in all our curricular design and assessment efforts. Our program is rooted in these standards and is proficiency oriented, which means that our goals and objectives for student learning promote intercultural communication based on what students “can do” with the language in meaningful and real-world contexts. All our language faculty are trained in ACTFL standards and engage in professional development to be up to date in best practices in second language acquisition and teaching. 


Spanish Major
Spanish + Portuguese Major
Spanish Minor

We offer a Spanish major with three tracks (Spanish Language and Literature, Spanish Language and Cultures, and Interdisciplinary Studies in Spanish), a Spanish minor, a major in which students combine Spanish and Portuguese, and a minor in Portuguese. 

Portuguese Minor

The Portuguese Program at the 5Cs is a collaboration between Pitzer and CMC. The program focuses on Brazil, the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world. Pitzer has a direct-run summer program in Salvador da Bahia hosted by our community partner the Steve Biko Cultural Institute


Pitzer is part of the 5C Northern French Program (Pitzer, Scripps, and CMC). The focus of Pitzer’s French curriculum is the French speaking Caribbean. We partner with the Université des Antilles to offer students opportunities to engage with French speakers in Guadeloupe and Martinique. 

Other language offerings at the 5Cs

Courses in Italian, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and German are also available to students through the consortium. Students have the option of working with language faculty advisors at Pitzer to discuss designing Special Majors combining one of the languages taught at Pitzer with other languages available through the consortium. 

Study Abroad

Students can count all eligible credits taken in approved study abroad programs towards their major or minor. Pitzer offers semester study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Ecuador and summer programs in Costa Rica and Brazil. Students may also study abroad through approved programs in ArgentinaChileCubaMexico, and Spain.

Spanish, Portuguese, and French Faculty

Juanita Aristizábal
Professor of Spanish & Portuguese
juanita_[email protected]
Fely Catan
Fély Catan
Assistant Professor of Spanish & French
[email protected]
Paula Gutiérrez
Senior Lecturer and Lower Division Placement Coordinator
[email protected]
Ariana Alfaro
Senior Lecturer and Global Engagement Coordinator
[email protected]
Jose Luis Florez
Senior Lecturer and Assessment Specialist
[email protected]
Charlie Hankin
Visiting Assistant Professor
[email protected]
Ethel Jorge
Professor Emerita of Spanish
[email protected]


The Spanish, Portuguese, and French lower-division sequence includes:

● 1 Introductory Spanish/Portuguese/French

● 2 Continuing Introductory Spanish/Portuguese/French

● 22 Intensive Introductory Spanish/Portuguese/French

● 33 Intermediate Spanish/Portuguese/French

● 44 Advanced Spanish/Portuguese/French

● Multilevel Community-Based and Conversational Courses

● Spanish 31 Community Based Spanish Practicum

● Spanish 35 Spanish Virtual Learning Community

● Portuguese 35 Portuguese Virtual Learning Community

● Spanish 55 Spanish Conversation Through Film 

Upper-Division Courses 

● Spanish 100 Spanish in the Community

● Spanish 104 Public Health in Latin America

● Spanish 135 Los Angeles the City and its People

● Spanish 136 Caribbean Popular Culture

● Spanish 137 Contemporary Strategies of Resistance in Latin America

● Spanish 144 Extraction, Exploitation, and Hope: Environmental Issues in Latin America

● Spanish 148 Colombia Beyond Cocaine and Coffee

● Spanish 162 Better than Fiction: Journalism in Latin America

● Spanish 163 AfroLatinidades

● Spanish 187 Latin American Popular Cultures

● Spanish 189 Contemporary Issues in the Spanish Speaking World

● Spanish 199 Senior Research Project Seminar 

● French 161 The French Empire and its Other