Officially there are twenty Spanish-speaking countries in the world today in addition to the island of Puerto Rico. Altogether, there are over 423 million Spanish-speaking people throughout the world today, making Spanish the second most spoken language in the world. In the United States, Spanish is the most studied language and boasts over 50 million speakers.
Spanish is part of the Indo-European family of languages, which are spoken by more than a third of the world’s population. Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you know how a word is spelled, you can almost always know how it is pronounced (although the reverse isn’t true). Although Spanish originated on the Iberian Peninsula as a descendant of Latin, today it has far more speakers in Latin America, having been brought to the New World by Spanish colonization. After Latin, the language that has had the biggest influence on Spanish is Arabic. Today, the foreign language exerting the most influence is English, and Spanish has adopted hundreds of English words related to technology and culture. (source)
The Spanish Language Program at Rice offers a three-year academic program of studies. The courses offered through CLIC cover first through third-year courses guiding students to understand the Spanish-speaking culture and society through our focus on language awareness and critical language analysis.
300 and 400 level courses in Spanish literature and culture are offered in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies.
Spanish is one of the options that fulfills the language requirements for the Linguistics major offered by the Rice Linguistics Department.