Diana P. Romero

Diana P. Romero

Research Interest

Lecturer in Language (Spanish)


Diana Romero has been working as a full-time lecturer at Columbia since Fall 2004. She has been a lecturer at the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University and Yale University. She worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her M.A. on Latin American Literature and her Ph.D. on Colombian literature in 2009. She holds a B.A. in Modern Languages from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Diana received the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award given by the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Maryland, and the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at the behest of the students.

She co-directed the Spanish Language Program from Fall 2012-Spring 2015.

Her research interests include second language pedagogy and heritage language pedagogy. She is in charge of Spanish 2108, Spanish for Heritage Speakers.  In 2016, she participated in the Summer Course Re-Design Institute and received a Course Re-Design grant from the CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning) to explore ideas to apply to her Spanish for Heritage Speakers course.

She received a course release to redesign SPAN UN 1120 Comprehensive Elementary Spanish during the Fall 2020.


Academic Statement

Teaching and learning are multidirectional and multifaceted processes where the meaningful and creative involvement of all the participants is essential. Making students actively engage in their own learning and in helping each other learn are the foundation of my pedagogical approach. Class participants must develop a greater cultural and linguistic understanding and awareness of the Spanish speaking peoples and to think critically about their own culture. In turn, I never stop learning from my students, who keep me highly engaged and motivated.

I try to design activities, tasks and projects that tap into students´ particular motivations and needs. Drawing from the research on heritage language learners and cognitive studies, the tasks and materials I use help students connect and interact with the Spanish culture and community available to them at the university, in the City and online. In the Fall 2011 I started a collaborative project involving bibliographic and ethnographic research for a Heritage Speakers class at Columbia and at Arizona State University. With the support of the Language Resource Center at Columbia and Arizona State University I incorporated the "Hispanidades" framework - a theoretical research approach that puts students across different universities in the United States in contact in order to explore issues of identity affecting Hispanic and Latino students across communities in the US.

From 2012-2015, I served as Co-Director of the Spanish Language Program. This provided me with the opportunity to see many other factors that come into play in the academic decision process, an experience that enriched my own perspective as an instructor.  I left this position in the Fall 2015 to focus more on my research interests.

Whether they are fulfilling the language requirement or have other personal interests in learning Spanish, I hope to motivate my students to continue their formal studies and to help them understand language learning as a lifelong endeavor. Thus, I make them aware of the importance of learning strategies and tools that they can adapt to their own needs and learning styles as they build up the confidence and critical skills necessary to learn in class and beyond.

As educators, we are frequently confronted with the realities of students´ lives that can make teaching a deeply transforming experience. By being constantly reminded that academic performance must keep in mind the individual as a whole, I have become increasingly interested in the role of emotions, sociocultural factors and strategies in the learning process.

SPAN UN1120: Comprehensive Beginning Spanish

Course description: Intensive, fast-paced elementary Spanish course for multilingual learners who have no formal education in Spanish. Replaces the sequence SPAN UN1101-SPAN UN1102.


Take the Department's language placement examination. (It is only for diagnostic purposes, to assess your language learning skills, not your knowledge of Spanish). 

If you score approximately 330 OR MORE, you may qualify for this course if:

- you have had no formal education in Spanish (1), AND 

- you identify with ONE of the following language learner profiles: 

  • Learners of Spanish as a 3rd language: fluent in a language other than English

  • Informal learners of Spanish: English speakers who have “picked up” Spanish by interacting with Spanish speakers in informal settings

  • *“Receptive” Spanish heritage learners: English dominant, but you understand Spanish spoken by family and community members (*Please take the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam. As a heritage speaker, you might be a better fit for SPAN W 1108 Elementary Spanish for Heritage Speakers or SPAN W 2108 Intermediate Spanish for Heritage Speakers. The sequence 1108/2108 fulfills the language requirement in this case.)

(The exam is only an initial assessment for diagnostic purposes. Your score might be high, even if you have never studied Spanish in a formal setting). 

You do not need my permission to register (2) I will further assess your level during the Change of Program period. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you are unsure about your placement in this course.

(1) If you have studied Spanish, take the regular level recommended based on your Placement exam score.

(2) Students who do not have the necessary proficiency level may not remain in this course. All Columbia students must take Spanish language courses (UN 1101-3300) for a letter grade.

This course satisfies the Foreign Language Requirement. 

Prerequisites: heritage knowledge of Spanish. Students intending to register for this course must take the departments on-line Placement Examination. You should take this course if your recommended placement on this test is SPAN UN2102 (a score of 450-624). If you place below SPAN UN2102 you should follow the placement recommendation received with your test results. If you place above SPAN UN2102, you should choose between SPAN UN3300 and SPAN UN4900. If in doubt, please consult with the Director of the Language Programs. Designed for native and non-native Spanish-speaking students who have oral fluency beyond the intermediate level but have had no formal language training.



SPAN UN 2108 is an intermediate course for Latinx bilingual Spanish speakers who have not formally studied Spanish and want to strengthen their oral and written communication skills in Spanish.

Through a sociolinguistic approach, the course seeks to promote the positive assessment of the students´ancestral culture and language in order to strengthen cultural ties between them and members of their extended community (family, friends, community of Spanish speakers in a variety of settings).

The course uses the Spanish students have learned at home as the foundation to help them become familiar with a variety of Spanish registers and to develop learning strategies that will allow them to move with increasing confidence in multiple socio-linguistic contexts beyond the classroom.

We will discuss and analyze topics that are relevant to understanding the Latinx and Spanish heritage students´ culture.

All materials, tasks and projects are scaffolded to build onto each other and thus reinforce and address the course topics at different moments and emphases to highlight their complexity and a variety of perspectives.

Courses Taught