LACIS is pleased to offer the following languages for those who wish to study another language from our region of the world: Ecuadorian Quechua, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yucatec Maya.

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Portuguese is spoken in 11 countries on four continents with close to 250 million speakers. Portuguese serves as a working language for critical international organizations including the African Union and the European Union. UW-Madison has one of the largest Portuguese programs in the United States, and it is estimated that over 1.3 million Portuguese speakers live in the United States. Portuguese shares some grammar rules, sentence structure, and similar vocabulary words with other Romance languages; so, if you already speak French, Spanish, or Italian, Portuguese is an easy and fun language to learn. Studying Portuguese is an asset in today’s global economy, as Brazil’s economy is among the largest in the world. (Source:

UW-Madison offers:

Learn more about the Portuguese academic programs, courses offered, and faculty HERE.


Quechua is a native language spoken by approximately 10 million people in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and parts of Colombia, Chile, and Argentina, as well as by diasporic communities in other South American countries, the United States, and Europe. Quechua is also known as Runa Shimi or “the people’s language.” Since the social and cultural status of Quechua is different than European languages, learning the language also requires understanding the general contexts that shape it historically, politically, socially, and culturally. Learning Quechua will provide an introduction to Andean cultures, focusing on its relevance and importance as of today. (Source:

UW-Madison offers the following Quechua courses:

  • ANTHRO/LACIS 361: Elementary Quechua
  • ANTHRO/LACIS 362: Elementary Quechua
  • ANTHRO/LACIS 363: Intermediate Quechua
  • ANTHRO/LACIS 364: Advanced Quechua

Courses in Quechua at UW-Madison are taught by Dr. Armando Muyolema, Senior Lecturer, who is a native speaker.


In the Americas, the Spanish-speaking population of the United States is second only to México, and is slightly above Argentina and Colombia. It is forecast that in the next five years, Spanish-speaking populations will continue their phenomenal growth, resulting in ever-increasing demands on businesses and institutions to provide dual-language services. Fluency in Spanish is rapidly becoming a necessary job skill in many sectors, and this trend will only continue to grow. The study of Spanish helps introduce learners to not only the culture of Spain, but of the Americas and a wide population of the United States. (Source:

UW-Madison offers:

Learn more about the Spanish academic programs, courses offered, and faculty HERE.

Yucatec Maya

Mayan languages belong to a family of indigenous languages spoken in Mesoamerica. Often when people think of the Maya, they think of an ancient people with no modern representatives. Today the Maya number is in the millions and four million people speak one or more of 28 Mayan languages. Yucatec Maya, also called Maya t’aan or ‘Maya Speech,’ is the second most widely spoken Mayan language, spoken today in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, and Belize. Yucatec Maya is a gateway to the world of Mayan Civilization. Many aspects of modern Yucatec Mayan culture and worldview are encoded in the language, including many interesting folk tales and oral histories recorded in Yucatec Maya that remain relevant today. (Source:

UW-Madison offers:

  • ANTHRO/LACIS 376: First Semester Yucatec Maya
  • ANTHRO/LACIS 377: Second Semester Yucatec Maya

These courses are both taught by Instructor Jessica Hurley.