Spanish 410 was the first Spanish class I took that allowed me to practice conversing in Spanish. I liked that the discussion was ongoing, and that we were able to watch videos and movies containing advanced-level Spanish. This class stimulated me to speak Spanish even when I had to struggle through what I was trying to say, and I noticed my skills gradually improve over the span of the class. I realized that my ability to talk about abstract ideas was greatly enhanced, and it made me eager to continue to hone my skills in the future.

~Cathy Lu, Biomedical Engineering

I really enjoyed the conversation dynamic in your class. Even though it was a conversation class, I felt as though our discussions were relevant beyond the restrictions of a language course. I appreciated our real world perspectives and opinions on each subject. You treated your students as equal participants in these discussions, which I think made everyone very open and willing to speak. I wish the grammar on the tests was more developed during in-class review, but this is something I personally struggled with and I’m not sure if this suggestion would be reflective of the entire group. Thanks for a fun semester- I learned a lot of Spanish and wisdom I can take with me beyond Spanish.

~Sophie Stein, English

At first, I was intimidated to take this class because I was sure it was going to be very difficult. Although it was definitely a step up from Spanish 3, I am very glad I had you as a professor because you were very helpful and engaging throughout the semester. Your lighthearted spirit and clear desire for us to not only do well in the course, but to actually make sure we understood everything was great, especially when you wrote things out on the chalk board and were in “your element”. You made it a very comfortable environment and I had a great year and want to continue studying Spanish. Thanks !

~Jessica Dillon, Supply Chain Management in Smeal


Taking Spanish 100 this semester made my decision to minor in Spanish. I really enjoyed this class because we focused on speaking the language and being interactive with the hispanic culture. My favorite part of Spanish 100 was the class atmosphere because it pushed me to
engage in speaking and helped made learning the linguistics and grammar of
Spanish easier. I am leaving this course feeling like I have a solid understanding about how to form sentences and have an adequate Spanish vocabulary. The material in this course made me realize that knowing how to speak another language can be helpful in everyday life.

~Casey Keiser, Business 

This semester I learned a lot in Spanish 100, not just about the course itself but also about life in general. The atmosphere was very relaxed and enjoyable, it made me want to be in class and be around everyone every day. My experience in this class was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far at Penn State. I can’t wait to use the lessons I learned in class in the future, not just in Spanish but in life itself. Overall my experience in this class was one of the best yet, I enjoyed every minute of the class.

~Morgan Weindel, Broadcast Journalism

I am a Spanish minor with the hope that it will be very useful in my future profession in the medical field. I felt that of all the Spanish courses I have taken here at Penn State, I learned the most in 410. The reason I say this is not because of the grammar I reviewed, but rather the emphasis on interpersonal conversation that this class had. I have always been confident in my ability to write and read in Spanish, however speaking “on the fly” was definitely one of my weaknesses. This class made me much more comfortable speaking in Spanish, and I have no doubt my overall knowledge (especially vocabulary) of the language has improved significantly as a result.

~Jeff Lorenz, Pre-Medicine 

Class with Alex is always a pleasant experience. I have had class with him for two semesters now, and I have learned a lot throughout the past year with him. The way he structures his class is effective, as the group work helps students practice Spanish in an interactive way that is necessary for language classes. I learned a lot about verb tenses and a wide range of categories of vocabulary through the interesting stories we read. The tests were always fair and forced students to have a high level of reading comprehension along with vocabulary and grammar skills. I recommend taking class with Alex to any student taking Spanish classes.

~Spencer Kramer, Finance 

Spanish 300 has been my favorite course that I have taken at Penn State, as I had a very positive experience. Through this course, I was introduced to different techniques in analyzing a text, which I have never used before. This will allow me to use these knew skills in my future classes, or just in general when I am reading. I think I now have more of an appreciation for literature after this class, especially because not only does reading in Spanish improve my skills, but I find the language beautiful. Even though some of the readings were difficult to understand the first or second time I read them, coming to class and going over the questions collectively, especially in small groups, helped me grasp the concepts. I hope to do group work in my future Spanish classes as well. Spanish 300 also improved my grammar and vocabulary. I am a Kinesiology Major, and want to be a physical therapist. I am also pursing a Spanish minor, as it is very important to me. I hope to take the language with me my whole life. I want to improve every day, so I can use Spanish whether I am traveling, working with others, or in my leisure time.

~Matt Blumenthal 

Alex,I really enjoyed this semester of Spanish. I’ve been taking Spanish ever
since I was a freshman in high school and this class was far and away the most
enjoyable and challenging Spanish class I have been a part of. In the past, all
of my classes were focused on grammar and vocabulary, with a smaller emphasis
on actually speaking the language. At the start of the semester I was a little
hesitant to really speak freely, but as the semester progressed, I felt much
more comfortable and confident speaking for long periods of time. This class
challenged me in that sense and in a way that no Spanish class has before. It
was awesome to be surrounded by such talented speakers, which led to some
incredible conversations. My favorite part of the semester was any Friday class
spent talking about a random subject. It really reinforced why I fell in love
with Spanish in the first place, and this class gave me even more motivation to
continue learning Spanish. It was just so much fun! Thank you for the awesome
semester, I hope to see you around campus.Matt

~Matt Blumenthal 

Taking SPAN110 with Alex was an amazing experience.  I was able to greatly improve my ability to speak and read Spanish through the classroom activities and discussions that we had.  The coursework that SPAN110 entails is relevant to everyday life, so I feel better prepared to utilize my Spanish skills in settings beyond the classroom.  The projects that we completed throughout the semester were fun and allowed us to be creative so that we could show our own individual talents. Overall, I highly recommend taking a Spanish class with Alex, because he creates an environment that lets you feel comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them.  I wouldn’t have the confidence that I now have with my Spanish if I did not take SPAN110 at Penn State!

~Leah Robertson, Anthropology 


Professor Alex Ramirez is a great teacher and his class was not only memorization based, but we were using a variety of skills to learn Spanish. Learning a language in college is difficult, but he was always ready to help with anything his students may not understand. He is also always willing to go over material again if it was not clear the first time. We were also encouraged to share our ideas and communicate more with each other in Spanish. I had a good experience in the class because there was always a good and happy atmosphere.

~Shivani V Rathod


Álex Ramírez-Arballo was a phenomenal professor, and he helped me become comfortable in a Penn State classroom. He was always smiling and knew how to connect with the students. Not only was he an effective Spanish teacher, but he would relate topics to life and how to be mentally happy. There were very few dull moments while in class with Álex. Each day I looked forward to going to class because I knew that there would always be positive energy coming from the professor. I hope everyone who takes Spanish courses has the pleasure of getting into his class. I hope that I have a second chance to sign up for another class of his in my future semesters.

~Joey Chawaga

 My name is Emma Burd and I am a freshman here at Penn State. This past fall I took my first ever college language class with Álex Ramirez and I was extremely pleased with my experience. I have taken Spanish classes for 13 years now and I can honestly say that my experience in Spanish 110 with Álex was one of the best ones yet. From day one he expressed to us how passionate he was about teaching the language and really wanted us to just work our hardest and succeed in the course. He was constantly available during and after class to seek help and made sure we fully comprehended the topic. Aside from his will to help all of us he kept the class and materials extremely organized. There was never any confusion on assignments or exams and we constantly knew what the class plan was for the day and what needed to be done outside the class. Finally, Álex Ramirez helped us learn the material by connecting it to real life events and having the students share things about ourselves, which really helped me learn more efficiently. Álex Ramirez was a fantastic Spanish teacher and I am very fortunate to have had him this past semester.

~Emma Burd

With each class you enroll in, it can be easy, it can be hard, it can be hard, yet you can master the topic. Much of it depends on how much effort you put into the class, but another great portion is your teacher and how you teacher decides to structure the class. I took Spanish 412 with Álex Ramírez-Arballo, and as a Senior graduating this spring, I can with confidence say that this class was my favorite class throughout my college experience. Professor Álex is so outwardly compassionate about what he teaches, and he is a teacher that genuinely wants to help his students learn and succeed. I loved both going to class and participating in the class. If I could take another course with Professor Álex I easily would. Penn State is lucky to have him as a part of their staff and students are fortunate to study under his instruction. I couldn’t have had a better experience in Spanish 412. Professor Álex both gave me skills I have not yet learned after seven years of studying Spanish and boosted my confidence with the overall language.

~Brooke Scicchitano


In Spanish 412 I learned a lot of valuable aspects about the language that I had not learned previously in other courses. This course was extremely helpful and practical because we are constantly translating words/lengthy texts as we study Spanish. Alex was a very knowledgeable professor on translation. He challenged students to not just translate the literal meaning of the text but rather to convey the sense of the text. The class was ran like a workshop so we were able to work in groups to create the best possible translation and then we would review them on the projector as a class. Alex and other students provided constructive criticism so that modifications could be made if need be, because the point of the class was to constantly improve our translation skills. I believe students felt very comfortable sharing their suggestions and thoughts with the class because of the open workshop environment. I enjoyed this class a lot and think the skills I learned on translation will help me in future courses. I would highly recommend other students studying Spanish to take Spanish 412 with Alex. We translated something new each class, worked on exercises in groups, and improved the way we analyzed different words. Alex always had each class planned out with new tasks to do each day and I think students were very engaged and enjoyed actively participating in the translation workshop.

~Stephanie Jacoby


I am studying to be a teacher myself, and you were not only a professor that taught me Spanish translation skills, but teaching skills as well. That was something I really appreciated, and I know other students did as well. By stressing group work everyday with the same people helped someone like me (who has extreme social anxiety and is always afraid to speak up in class) make friends in the class and be more confident in my Spanish skills, both in small groups and as a whole. SPAN 412 was truly my favorite Spanish class I’ve taken. As a student with lots of anxiety and nervousness about my language skills, I greatly appreciate how you made the class a positive environment and encouraged a variety of answers. Reviewing all translations as a class (after doing them together as a small group) also really helped. Seeing things in a different way was helpful. Before taking the course I honestly wasn’t sure if a minor in Spanish for me was possible, but this course really helped me move it along and now I’m taking the last class for the minor!

¡Gracias por todo!

~Jaime Ellenberger

I can honestly say Alex was my favorite Spanish professor I’ve ever had. He created a positive learning environment that everyone felt comfortable speaking in, something very important in a language class. Unlike most Spanish classes, Alex emphasized the use of technology which I found really useful in my progress in translation. Every class had engaging conversations that always made class interesting. Alex as a professor is not only knowledgable in translation and interesting to listen to, but very nice. I always looked forward to coming to his class.
       ~Amy Neumann
After coming back from a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain and only needing one more credit for a Spanish minor; I knew that I needed to focus on my major classes in order to graduate in the spring and Spanish was not a top priority. After the first few translation classes with Alex, I completely changed my mindset, and his translation class quickly became my favorite of the semester. Alex’s style of teaching is unlike any other language class I have taken at Penn State and he truly understands how students think and learn. He realizes that students learn more in a class that they are succeeding in, and he provides the necessary tools to help everyone in the class succeed. I never wanted to skip one of Alex’s classes because the activities were engaging and I was going to benefit and develop my translation skills after each class. Alex’s method of teaching should be used by more professors not only at this university, but also around the world. I have taken numerous skills away from Alex’s translation class and I hope to continue building on my Spanish knowledge in the future.
Gracias Alex!
~Michael Hartman

 Hello, my name is Lissette Velazquez and I am a former student of Alex Ramírez. I am currently a junior majoring in Human development and family studies with a minor in Sociology. I took English 226 and I absolutely loved the class. The books that were given to read were very intriguing and the discussion in class was very helpful. This course cross-listed with Latino Studies minor which I was interested in. It brought to my attention that there was Latino authors and they books that not only I could relate to as a Latina, but also that it was intriguing and interesting. Because of this class, I have hope that latin@ Studies will become a major.

~Lissette Velazquez

 I took Intro to Hispanic Literature (SPAN 253W) with Professor Ramirez.  I am an English major, so I am used to analyzing literary texts, but I had never done so in a foreign language and being forced to do so pushed my proficiency in Spanish to a new level.  It was invaluable to have a native-Spanish speaking professor because he was able to explain to the class idioms that one cannot find in the dictionary, for example: “al pan, pan y al vino, vino” (I originally heard this phrase in a song and was excited to learn that Chayanne was not simply singing about bread and wine).  I could see that Professor Ramirez has a passion for literature (I believe he is an avid writer), which made the class even more enjoyable.

~Vanessa Marie Shalkey

My name is Alina Mackenthun and I took the SPAN 253 literature course with Senor Ramirez. I am majoring in Energy, Business and Finance with a Spanish minor. I enjoyed the course, mainly because of the texts that were chosen for the semester. All in all, this course proved to be challenging in that it introduced a new way of analyzing literature. I realized that, although I had previously subconsciously analyzed it in the way that Senor Ramirez presented, I had not had to outwardly interpret what I read in such a way, thereby making the course an exploration of interpretation and communication. I feel that what I learned was useful, but sometimes the systematic approach was a little tiresome and perhaps a little bit like objective “butchering” of the literature. That is not to say, however, that Senor Ramirez did not force the class to think; he did a good job of involving the class in his discussions of the works and gave us perspective on what he thought the texts’ messages were. I feel this communication between native speaker and non-native student is vital to the growth of both parties.

~Alina Mackenthun

My name is Danielle Blackburn and I am currently a senior at Penn State University majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Spanish Language. I took Spanish 253W with Alex Ramirez during the fall semester of my junior year in 2009. Spanish 253W is a heavily based literature and writing course. I really enjoyed taking this class due to the fact that it was interesting material and also challenging at times. This was the first Spanish class at PSU that required me to apply all of my previous knowledge regarding Spanish grammar and vocabulary into cohesive papers and essays on a regular basis. This class allowed my Spanish skills to grow tremendously which benefited me during the following spring semester when I studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Alex’s class prepared me for the course work that I encountered while I was at La Universidad de Salamanca. I am continuing to study Spanish and hope to integrate it into my career and one day become a bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist. I appreciate the time and effort that Alex put into this particular class to help me achieve my future career goals.

~ Danielle Blackburn 

My name is Katie Hatfield.  I am a Nutrition major and am minoring in Spanish.  Last year I took Spanish 253W.  Taking this class was a really great experience for me, in that it improved my spanish at a conversational level.  The main contributing factor to this was that it was a discussion-based class.  It was my first time being in a spanish class where we learn more than grammar and vocabulary.  We read real spanish literature and then had class discussions, which were fully in spanish.  I always looked forward to going to class because I knew we would be discussing interesting topics, whether it was about poetry, novels, or short stories.  I always recommend this specific class (Alex Ramirez’s) to anyone who is studying spanish, because I know that they will enjoy it as much as I did, and they will also learn as much as I did.

~Katie Hatfield

My name is Lauren Freda.  I’m a double major in Business Management and Spanish Business.  I took Spanish 253W with Álex Ramírez.  I really enjoyed Alex’s class because he really helped me to improve my writing skills in Spanish.  He challenged us in class, which really helped to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language.

~Lauren Freda

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