Department of Spanish Language

Department’s History

The Department of Spanish Language at MGIMO University has been an independent administrative unit since October 2002. It separated from the Department of Romance Languages due to a growing demand for training in Spanish and an increase in the number of faculty members.

From 1992 to January 2012, the Department was under the leadership of Professor Galina Romanova, PhD in Philology.

From January 2012 to April 2023, Valerij Iovenko, a Doctor of Philology and Professor, served as the Department's head.

Currently, there are 46 faculty members in the Department, including two Doctors of Philology (Valerij Iovenko, Marina Larionova), 29 PhDs, of which 21 hold degrees in philology, two in history, one in pedagogy, and three in political sciences. One faculty member holds a PhD from a foreign university. Valerij Iovenko holds the academic title of Professor, and 11 faculty members are Associate Professors.

The Department’s main task is to provide specialized Spanish instruction, as both a first and second foreign language, for all MGIMO Schools in the fields of international relations, international economic relations, international business and business administration, international law, and international journalism. That is why it places a strong emphasis on teaching socio-political, economic, and legal translation and interpreting. Instruction starts at the beginner level, and by the end of the program, students acquire a professional command of the language.

Every year, the Department teaches Spanish to over 700 students as their first, second, or third language.

School of Spanish Pedagogy

The tradition of teaching Spanish at MGIMO University dates back over 70 years to the thirteenth faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The tragedy of the civil war in Spain significantly impacted the global situation. The Faculty of International Relations at Moscow State University was a response to the urgent need for training international relations experts fluent in foreign languages in both casual and political settings. Spanish was one of such languages. María Luisa González Vicens, a philologist and bearer of a deep humanitarian tradition, played a pivotal role in introducing Spanish language instruction in Moscow. She studied at the University of Madrid alongside Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, and Salvador Dalí, fostering friendships and regularly interacting with those who would later become the glory and pride of the global cultural elite.

After the Faculty of International Relations at MSU was transformed into the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, María Luisa, a legendary figure, remained at MSU and became one of the founders of the school of Hispanic studies in the capital. She collaborated with renowned Hispanists such as Ernestina Levintova, a successor of Academician Vladimir Shishmaryov and his St. Petersburg tradition, Professor Venedikt Vinogradov, and other Hispanists. The Department of Romance Philology at the Faculty of Philology at MSU trained numerous Spanish instructors, who, starting in the 1960s, joined the multilingual team of then Romance Languages Department at MGIMO. It was then that, following a brief hiatus, MGIMO relaunched its Spanish language training with the contribution of instructors from Spain who made our country their second home. María Rodríguez, Pilar Álvarez (Palyares), Agustín Vilella, and other native speakers of vibrant conversational Spanish authored outstanding textbooks that became classics for generations of Hispanists. Graduates from top domestic language universities worked by their side and also created remarkable textbooks and dictionaries — Nelly Velikopolskaya, Maria Gorokhova, Galina Bokshitskaya, Ya. Nekrasova, Lyudmila Ivanova, N. Golubkov, Boris Sidorin, Irina Borisenko, Nadejda Shidlovskaya, Aleksey Dementyev, N. Surin. They are, as well as our other faculty, true innovators in the field of Hispanic studies. They were the first to develop a methodology for teaching Spanish at advanced levels and lay the foundations for specialized language training by professional field.

As the number of Schools at MGIMO University increased, the Romance Languages Department welcomed alumni of our university who combined professional knowledge in economics, law, and journalism with strong language skills and hands-on translation and interpreting experience. Thanks to their expertise and dedication, we now have well-known textbooks for intensive professional language training. Today, MGIMO alumni from various years continue to work at the Department, including Elena Astakhova, Aelita Baychurina, Anna Zdorenko, Elena Klochko, Anastasia Nikiforova, Fatima Sanginova, Elena Chuprygina, and Alexandra Fokina.

With the rising prominence of the Spanish language in international communication, the establishment of a dedicated Department of Hispanic Studies became essential. Since 2002, the Department of Spanish Language has functioned independently, separated from the Romance Department, providing training across all Schools and educational stages at MGIMO University, including almost all master’s degree programs. For a remarkable span of 20 years, the Department thrived under the leadership of Professor Galina Romanova, PhD in Philology.

Teaching foreign languages at MGIMO University has always entailed specific requirements. On the one hand, MGIMO University is a not a linguistics university, it allocates no more than 10 hours per week for all language aspects (grammar, vocabulary, speaking, elements of history, literature and culture, language etiquette, professional language, translation and interpreting, etc.) for the first foreign language. On the other hand, within this limited time frame, the goal is to not only enable students to communicate fluently and accurately on various topics (as the undergraduate cycle at MGIMO University lasts four years and most students start studying Spanish from scratch) and develop their ability to read and comprehend lengthy texts, understand the message after hearing it once, but also cultivate translation and interpretating skills, for this is what they are going to dedicate most of their time to in the early stages of their career as international professionals.

In recent years, due to fierce competition in the education and employment market, the requirements for language proficiency among graduates have dramatically increased. Consequently, there has been a need for a new generation of textbooks that align with the latest educational standards, while drawing from the accumulated methodological experience. Following a longstanding tradition, Hispanists at MGIMO University write textbooks and study guides for all the programs across all fields of study at the university. The MGIMO author team, including Marina  Larionova, Natalia Tsareva, Alisiya Gonzalez-Fernandez, Olga Chibisova, and Marina Kienya, has developed a series of four modern textbooks under the collective title ESP@ÑOL.HOY. These textbooks are designed for levels A1 to C1. The following series of textbooks are used to teach Spanish as a second foreign language — Modern Spanish Language (Elena Grinina, Yulia Mikaelyan, Natalia Mikheeva) and Spanish language. Full course. Step by Step (Rushaniya Alimova, Rosa Gonzalez) for levels A1 to B2. The main textbook for teaching translation and interpreting as a standalone modular discipline is The Practical Translation Course. International Relations. Spanish Language by Valerij Iovenko. Other specialized Spanish textbooks authored by the Department’s faculty that are truly innovative for the field include Spanish for Journalists and Spanish for International Relations by Galina Romanova, Valerij Iovenko, and Marina Larionova, and Spanish for Diplomats by Elena Astakhova. Specialized Spanish textbooks, such as International Relations, Political Science Basics in Spanish, and Political Science by Elena Astakhova, Galina Denisenko, Elena Kryukova, Elena Savchuk, Viktoriya Yakovleva; International Economics, Management, Commercial Correspondence by Tatiana Fituni, Fatima Sanginova, Elena Chuprygina, Natalia Mikheeva, Elena Korzhukova, Natalia Tsareva, Natalia Matyushenko, M. Arsuaga Guerra, Maria Akinfieva; International Law by Natalia Korosteleva, Olga Chibisova, Viktoriya Yakovleva; International Journalism, Public Relations, On Sociology in Spanish by Galina Gorenko, Irina Guseva, Ilona Gorelaya, Anna Gorenko; Spanish for Environmental Economists by Yuliya Tsarapkina; and The Profession of Journalism in Spanish by Yurii Murzin are invaluable for teaching specialized language modules.

Throughout the entire learning process, strict adherence to the principle of complete authenticity is maintained in all language materials, both in Spanish and Russian. The method of presentation is intensive, and lexical units for professional active vocabulary are carefully selected. From the early stages, a strong emphasis is placed on oral and written comprehension, enabling effective use of all memory types and continuously guiding students toward active language proficiency.

The high level of language instruction is largely attributed to the fact that the faculty members, for example, Kristina Buynova, Yurii Murzin, and Fatima Sanginova, regularly work at high level international events as interpreters and translators.

Mentoring and methodological seminars for numerous younger members of the team is an important tradition that the Department is committed to.

Research constitutes an integral part of the Department’s work. Since the early 2000s, the Department has offered a doctoral program 10.02.05 — Romance languages, its doctoral students have successfully defended dissertations in various research fields. Valerij Iovenko, Galina Romanova, Marina Larionova, and Elena Grinina are among the program’s instructors.

In 2002, building upon the accumulated expertise of Russian Hispanists, the Department started a new university tradition — regular (biennial) international research meetings of Hispanists. These gatherings are distinctive in that they involve not only philologists and language teachers but also diplomats, political scientists, economists, and lawyers from leading European and US universities. Another noteworthy aspect of the conferences at MGIMO University is that they are conducted in Spanish. In 2022, the Spanish Language Department organized the Moscow University Spanish Olympiad for university students, which brought together more than 80 students from 13 Moscow universities, including the Military University, MSLU, MCU, MPGU, HSE, and others. The Olympiad provided an excellent platform for students to both showcase their skills and gain invaluable experience and foster stronger ties between educational institutions.

The high research standard of the Spanish Language Department is evident from research monographs by Professor Valerij Iovenko, Associate Professors Elena Astakhova, Marina Larionova, Kristina Buynova, Elena Grinina, Galina Gorenko, as well as a collective monograph by the Department’s faculty, based on the annual lectures, The World of Spanish Language, given to third-year students.

The Department conducts Spanish language training in close contact with specialized departments at MGIMO University and with the active participation of the Ibero-American Center, established in 1993. The Center offers students and the faculty a platform to regularly meet with representatives of the Spanish-speaking community, diplomats, politicians, journalists, and public figures from the Ibero-American region. From 1993 to 2018, Aleksey Shestopal served as the chairman of the Center’s board.

The Department’s faculty members strive to improve their teaching approaches and actively share their experience and knowledge. The Ibero-American Notebooks (Cuadernos Iberoamericanos) journal, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023, serves as a platform for professional discussions and research. Over the years, the journal has established itself as an authoritative publication in the field of Ibero-American studies. It caters to a broad range of readers and is of great interest to anyone curious about the Spanish language and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.

It is difficult to imagine quality language training outside of a broader cultural context. That’s why, for over 30 years, the Department has been home to the Spanish theater led by Elena Grinina, where students stage plays and also get to learn the art of flamenco and tango.

At present, the Department successfully addresses new educational and research tasks, passing on to students a love for the vast and beautiful world of the Spanish language.

Head of Department

Galina Gorenko Galina Gorenko

Ph.D. in Linguistics, Associate Professor


+7 495 229-38-47 (inner 15-64)
Room: 3060