One of the hats I wear in my job is Director of Undergraduate Studies. I work closely with our advisor, I speak directly with potential students and their parents, and I am on our department's curriculum committee.
On the one hand, I am passionate about Spanish and how it can help students understand our world differently, better. Studying Spanish, studying abroad in Barcelona for one year, and doing the PhD in Spanish literature gave me many wonderful experiences and tools. That was back in the 80s and 90s. On the other hand, I see some very important tensions that make me wonder about the long-term growth of Spanish as a serious, engaged, intellectual program on US college campuses.
1. Spain-centric programsSpain has central role in both the typical curriculum and in students' imagination of "Spanish," yet Spain is a small piece of the Spanish-speaking world and of Spanish-language cultural production.
2. Spanish as a toolMany students want to study the Spanish language to add it their their resumes, whereas faculty and courses are aimed at the discipline of "Hispanic Studies," not (or not just) learning Spanish.
3. Heritage speakersWith few but notable exceptions, Spanish programs are structured to teach Spanish as a foreign language, even though the number of heritage speakers in the US will continue to grow--and second-language learners need to learn about and with the Spanish speakers of this country.
These issues have been clear to me for a while now, but recently, in a one-week span, I saw them play out before my eyes in three different occasions.