Business Spanish Certificate Program


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In as little as six months, greatly improve your professional proficiency in Spanish and gain the cultural knowledge you need to conduct business in Spain and Latin America. Learn to communicate professionally via email, telephone, videoconferencing and in-person. Create professional presentations tailored to your career. This online two-course certificate program for working professionals provides scheduling flexibility and personalized learning. Prerequisite: Intermediate level of Spanish.


The Business Spanish Certificate, offered three times a year (spring, summer and fall), consists of two practical and convenient courses that will give you the language and cultural skills you need to negotiate cross-culturally in Spanish: Business Spanish 1 (cohort model) and Business Spanish 2 (independent study).

Business Spanish 1 gives you essential skills to conduct business in a Spanish-speaking environment. You will interact with a cohort of other professionals as you work through 10 informative lessons in three months with guidance and personalized feedback from your instructor. You can access all materials at your convenience during the week.  Five optional live conversation sessions will allow you to meet other professionals and practice speaking.

Key topics:

  • Speaking professionally
  • Composing professional emails
  • Phone conversations
  • Discussing your own background and skills
  • Talking about your company's services and structure
  • Thorough grammar review
  • Business etiquette in Spanish-speaking countries

Business Spanish 2 is an independent study composed of two modules tailored to your immediate professional needs. The first module, "Effective Interviewing for Jobs or Partnerships," allows you to work through the module as a prospective employee applying for a position, as an employer hiring for an open position, or as an organization seeking international business partners. In the second module, "Customized Project," you will work closely with an instructor researching a specific business sector relevant to your career in the Spanish-speaking country of your choice.

You can begin course 2 immediately after finishing Business Spanish 1, or you can take up to three months off, based on your personal schedule. You have 9 months to finish the entire certificate.

Key topics:

  • Video conferencing and interviews
  • Creating professional documents
  • Interviewing/hiring
  • Customized research focusing on a business sector in a specific region — both chosen by you:
    • Economic and business climates
    • Trade and professional associations
    • Consumer trends and marketing

Why earn this certificate?

UW–Madison Continuing Studies' Online Business Spanish Certificate program is the only academic program of its kind in the Midwest.

Long renowned as one of the foremost academic institutions in the country, UW–Madison provides unparalleled service to post-traditional students. UW–Madison Continuing Studies develops and delivers more than 20 professional certificate programs in a wide variety of callings and careers — now including business Spanish. Through our unique combination of experience, innovation and credibility, we can help you stand out in an increasingly competitive environment.

This program offers a practical, flexible and convenient way to acquire the language skills and cultural knowledge entrepreneurs and corporate professionals need to conduct business successfully in Spain and Latin America. Learn business etiquette, create professional documents, and learn to discuss your own training and your business sector, all while growing your knowledge about the Spanish-speaking business world and negotiating cross-culturally.

Who is this course is for?

  • Business professionals who need hands-on skills for their current positions.
  • Professionals who wish to expand their career opportunities by acquiring the ability to work cross-culturally.
  • MBA students who are considering careers in international business.
  • Professionals working for NGOs who work with Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Anyone interested in gaining practical language and cultural skills.
  • Undergraduates looking to prepare themselves for a competitive global market.

When can I begin?

  • New cohorts for Business Spanish 1 begin three times a year in spring, summer and fall. 

What level of Spanish do I need?

  • The Certificate Program is adaptable for an intermediate or advance speaker of Spanish. If you are uncertain about your level of Spanish, take the Spanish 4 placement test and contact Julie.dahl@wisc.edu for more guidance.

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Course Outline

Business Spanish 1

Each lesson has a content theme, vocabulary related to that theme, relevant readings, audio or video examples (all taken from real-life sources). Each lesson also has a grammar section that reviews key grammatical structures and provides links to optional online exercises. The lesson ends with a cultural section that explains important cultural differences around the Spanish-speaking world.

The homework at the end of each lesson generally consists of writing a professional email to the professor that puts into practice structures and vocabulary contained in each lesson (for example, writing a letter detailing your past work experience). The participant will telephone the instructor at least once and interact with other members of the course via discussion boards.

Lesson 1: Names and titles in the Spanish-speaking world, abbreviations and correct forms of address. Irregular verbs. The role of the family in the business world.

Lesson 2: Writing professional emails, scheduling in-person meetings, dates and important forms of documentation. Direct and indirect object pronouns. The role of holidays in the business world.

Lesson 3: More on the correct use of formality: introductions and correct forms of greeting. Saber versus Conocer. Introduction to Latin American business culture.

Lesson 4: More on business etiquette: expressions of courtesy, the role of physical contact and personal space and the art of conversation. Ser versus Estar. The terminology debate between Hispanic/Latino. Regional differences in Latin America.

Lesson 5: Looking inside businesses: different professions, organizations and positions within a company. Definite and indefinite articles. Hay que. Google as a global business. The geography of the Spanish-speaking world.

Lesson 6: The role of social networks and professional online profiles in the business world. Sought-after employee characteristics. Gustar and similar verbs. The many economies of Latin America.

Lesson 7: Resumes, CVs and cultural differences in the job application process. Using online templates and new trends in hiring. Review of past tenses. Language diversity in Latin America and Spain.

Lesson 8: The diversity of educational systems in Spain and Latin American, discussing degrees, study abroad and professional training. The contrast between past tenses. The ethnic diversity of Spain and Latin America.

Lesson 9: Professional and labor experience including volunteer work and internships, the labor crisis and future goals. Grammar structures for talking about a duration of time. The high rates of unemployment in many countries.

Lesson 10: Electronic devices in the workplace, language changes that keep pace with technological changes and creating a video resume. Impersonal Se. Cultural differences in adopting technology.

Business Spanish 2

Module 1: Effective Interviewing for Jobs or Partnerships

All of the homework is preparation for the video interview. There will be one phone call, three emails and one virtual interview via videoconference.

Lesson 1: The job search and job postings. Cultural differences in a typical workday/week. Por vs. para. Choose a real job posting that you will practice applying for.

Lesson 2: Where to look for job help: employment agencies, job fairs and filling out forms. Speaking with large numbers and statistics. Spelling and giving personal information over the phone. The culture of having "connections." Phone conversation with the professor.

Lesson 3: Applying for a job, soliciting interviews, writing cover letters and common types of interview advice. The subjunctive. Workplace discrimination.

Lesson 4: Preparing for a job interview, typical questions, strategies for difficult questions and tips to ask questions and not just answer. More subjunctive. Gestures and body language.

Lesson 5: Simulated remote job interview: technical and audio-visual tips. Tips for before, during and after the interview. Professional protocol. Simulated video interview with the instructor.

Module 2: Customized Project

In this module, you will have the opportunity to tailor the course to topics and areas that are most relevant to your professional goals. You will learn about your field in a particular country and grow your professional vocabulary for that field.

Each lesson guides you on how and where to research information about the country and sector you choose to study. The homework will be a simple summary/presentation of what you discovered.

Lesson 1: Select a country and research important background data and information about that country.

Lesson 2: Select a business or service sector and define the product or service that you will research in that country.

Lesson 3: Research the economic and business climate of your chosen country.

Lesson 4: Identify relevant trade and professional associations, trade fairs and professional groups that could provide important bridges to breaking into a new market.

Lesson 5: Research competitors and consumer trends to determine marketing strategies for your sector and local population.

Earn Continuing Education Hours

By participating in this class you will earn:

Instructional Hours 100
University of Wisconsin Continuing Education Units 10

Explanation of Continuing Education Hours

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Program Questions?

Contact Julie Dahl at julie.dahl@wisc.edu or 608-262-5929

Registration Questions?

Email registrations@pyle.wisc.edu or call 608-262-2451.

Continuing Studies FAQs

Meet your instructor

Ana Pérez Alfajarrin

(MA, University of Western Ontario) has been teaching Spanish since 2013 to adult learners of all ages. She specializes in Hispanics linguistics and was first trained as a translator/interpreter in Cuba. She brings enthusiasm to her teaching and loves creating engaging courses that make learning meaningful and fun.

What Attendees Are Saying

"This course has challenged me and allowed me to learn and practice on my own. I really liked the added vocabulary, resume building in Spanish, and how to construct an email in Spanish."
Thomas Diedrick
"I love learning actual applicable knowledge that I can use for my job - how to email, practicing usted/ustedes, formal words. The instructor was always helpful. I loved the content of the course."
Erika Woodruff
"I appreciated the emphasis on learning vocabulary commonly used in a professional setting, as well as understanding the common practices and culture of working in Spanish-speaking countries. The homework and lessons were very useful and can easily be applied to real-life situations."
Kevin Tully
"I learned all I needed to effectively communicate in Spanish in a business setting."
Omar Hernandez
"I loved that this course taught me information I otherwise would not have known about doing business in Spanish-speaking countries."
Lia Anastasia Kopar