In the Community

Mayor of Salem Kimberly Driscoll and three students from Salem State pose for a photo in Salem


The foreign languages department is strongly committed to offering programs that meet the educational and professional needs of the community. Our Spanish BA and MAT program were created to help train teachers of Spanish for careers in schools on the North Shore and in other parts of Massachusetts, and our language programs are open to anyone interested in learning a language. However, we also see our relationship with the community as a reciprocal one, as our programs and students also benefit from the multicultural and historic environment around us.

We strive to make as many connections with the community as we can, and have developed a range of programs that allow for a fruitful exchange of ideas and expertise with those in the Salem and larger community. Following are some of our community connections:

SPN 385: Community Placements

Through the Community Placements course, offered every year and required of Spanish majors, students in our undergraduate Spanish programs have the opportunity to do internships with a variety of government offices, businesses, health and social services agencies in Salem and the surrounding communities where they are able to use their Spanish language skills to assist their placement office while also learning about the Spanish-speaking people who live and work in our community.

La Lista

The Spanish program hosts a virtual Spanish club, an online email list called "La Lista" to which students and members of the community at large contribute. La Lista ("the list" in Spanish) is a bilingual (Spanish-English) mailing list for people associated with the Salem State community to share information and discuss topics related to the Spanish-speaking world: language, culture, and politics, as well as jobs, fellowships, and other professional opportunities. The list is open to anybody with ties of any sort to Boston's North Shore area that Salem State serves. Subscribe to La Lista.

Guest Speakers

The department regularly hosts guest speakers for the language programs, ranging from the Mayor of Salem to the Consul General of Spain to returned Peace Corps Volunteers to visiting Scholars to Spanish-speaking professionals who live and work in the community. Through our speaker series, we hope to engage our students with the world and allow them to see the possibilities of the ways they can contribute to the world we live in.

Service Projects

The department's clubs and the department itself routinely organize service projects in the community. A few examples of service projects include: students in the upper-division Spanish Translation Seminar have done translations for various government and non-profit agencies in Salem under the supervision of Dr. Kristine Doll; the French Club has held fundraisers for several global causes, including donations for a French school in rural Haiti and a fundraiser for A3D, a Salem-based organization that promotes development in French-speaking Africa; the Spanish BA coordinator, Dr. Nicole Sherf, offers MTEL preparation workshops and seminars at area pedagogy conferences for teachers preparing to take their licensure exams. We strongly believe in service-learning as a way to better understand both the world around us and ourselves, and this belief has translated to our students, many of whom volunteer to participate in service projects during summers or after graduation. The Department's HOPE award, given annually to a student involved in a humanitarian project, supports this vision.


The department's faculty and students are engaged in ongoing research projects in and about the community. Students in our undergraduate and graduate capstone seminars often draw from their experiences working and teaching in the Salem community when they develop their theses. In addition, faculty members are also involved in research about language usage and cultural history in Salem. To find out more about our faculty, consult the Faculty and Staff pages.


Dr. Nicole Sherf and Dr. Kristine Doll have written articles on the subject of the department's connections to the community and our community placements courses. Read the articles on the MaFLA website. In addition, the department publishes a newsletter each semester to keep students and those in the community informed of departmental events and larger issues related to foreign languages. You can find out more and read back issues of the Lingua Franca newsletter online [].