Oxford Demystified - Modern languages (German) Watch

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By adoody28 - elder son of Oxford Mum
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“Literature, literature, literature”

(paraphrasing Tony Blair)

When I applied to Oxford, it was something I had wanted to do for several years. I’d fallen in love with the colleges, the immaculate lawns, the leafy riverbanks and the city as a whole. At the same time, I had always had a passion for German.

My Mum – the author of this book – was also a linguist who had kept up her German. She offered lessons to a few locals and began teaching a girl who had changed schools at 13. The girl had never learnt German, but was put in a German class with others who had two years’ experience. Mum decided to teach her ab initio until she had caught up, and I started learning by sitting in on the lessons.

Before long, I became a mad keen Germanist. Even when the other pupil reached the same chapter as the rest of the class, I insisted on carrying on. I moved on to GCSE papers and was getting good marks. Mum, as always, was keen to research further.

Modern languages are not an especially competitive course – particularly German. By the time I sat my A-levels, I was one of a whopping two students in the entire year studying German. Students were far keener to pursue other subjects such as sciences or maths. I feel like language learning has taken something of a hit since English became increasingly recognised as the language of global trade. Such is the extent of this issue that some schools teach only the more “popular” languages such as Spanish. Things are so bad that the German government has commented on the issue and said how disappointed they are that so few Brits are interested in learning their language and that there is a shortage of non-native German speakers. Between 2011 and 2016, German “A” level applications fell by 25.6%, whereas over the same period, Spanish rose by 11.2% (source: the Independent, 4 August 2017).

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/e...-a8494156.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47334374

Regardless of which language you choose, the general apathy of A-level students works in your favour. Averaged out, modern languages is one of the easiest subjects to get into Oxford for, with a success rate of 31.9%. As with most Oxford degrees, languages can be a path to almost anything.

I remember talking to the former rector of Exeter College and when I said what I was hoping to study, she remarked that I had chosen “a good one” and that a managing director of HSBC had also studied languages at Exeter. Don’t just think languages are for teachers and translators. You never know where an Oxford languages degree will take you.
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Here is the link to the Oxford German course:

https://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/german#undergraduate

As you are studying a languages degree, you’ll be expected to be proficient in your chosen language. There are a couple of exceptions – Russian ab initio or Oriental Languages for example – but having a good grasp of the nuts and bolts is expected of you before you even log on to UCAS.

A large part of the course will centre on literature. If you’re not a bookworm, go for Maths instead because your average languages tutor will be expecting someone as mad about literature as they are.

At Oxford, a nation’s literature is inseparable from a nation’s culture. The key to showing an interest is to read. To paraphrase Dory – keep reading! I wouldn’t necessarily panic if you feel that the literary greats are a bit beyond your comprehension, maybe start with something simpler and build up your confidence. Write down the words you don’t know as you go along and use a dictionary such as Collins to look them up.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Ger...gateway&sr=8-1

Then memorise the new vocabulary.

In the case of German, I’d start with something like Dürrenmatt’s “der Richter und sein Henker”, which is a kind of Swiss Agatha Christie.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richter-sei...s%2C134&sr=8-1

Then, to ease you into the literature, try one of my favourite books, “Sansibar oder der letzte Grund” by Alfred Andersch.

A disparate group of people (a boy, two communists, a vicar and a Jew) try to smuggle a religious statue out of Nazi Germany. There is tension, there is romance, and there is death. I was so worried about the Jewish girl, Judith, that at times I felt she was real.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sansibar-Le...gateway&sr=8-1

Other recommended books are “Leben des Galilei” (Berthold Brecht)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leben-Galil...gateway&sr=8-1
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“der Vorleser” (Bernhard Schlink)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vorleser-Be...s%2C143&sr=8-1

and “die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (Heinrich Böll).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Die-verlore...s%2C137&sr=8-2

Start with easier literature and then move on to what Oxford would call “the literary canon”, i.e. the more famous historic literature. I remember picking up “Die Leiden des Jungen Werther” and reading it cover to cover. The story is that of a young man in love with an unattainable woman, who is engaged to another man. Unable to deal with these circumstances, Werther attempts to find solace in nature and in distance from the otherwise happy couple but fails. I won’t spoil the ending but if you have developed any emotional attachment, you might want to grab a tissue. “Werther” serves as an excellent encouragement to go out, get some fresh air and pick up more books over the summer…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leiden-Jung...s%2C131&sr=8-1

What this means is that a lot of reading will need to be done in your own time. Goethe asks in “Werther” that you make his book “your little friend”, and I would say the same thing. Take him with you to work for your lunch break. Take him on holiday. Take him home for a lazy weekend or on long journeys. Take him to the beach. The more confident you get, the more you’ll enjoy even the most complicated literature in any language.

Fortunately, many German texts are at least actually quite short and use relatively simple language, so you can probably work your way through quite a bit given enough time. Foreign literature can be inexpensive. Sadly you’re not likely to find Schiller in your local library, but there is a publisher called Reclam which prints pocket sized editions of German texts for as little as £2 on Amazon.

Unfortunately you won’t pick up much literary technique at school unless you already study a literary subject. You’ll need to be able to show a critical appreciation for literature and be able to look at a piece with an analytical eye. It’s all well and good saying you’ve read several books by Brecht on your personal statement, but if you can’t think of a single thing to say when he’s brought up at interview, you are likely going to have a hard time to say the least. That is why I recommend studying English Literature from GCSE onwards.


Languages at Oxford are so literature heavy that it is more like studying English Literature, but in a foreign language. It also means that any techniques you learnt in English Literature can be transferred across. In a literature class you learn what to look for and discuss in a text, which you will need to be able to do when applying to Oxford.
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Even more so at interview, when you will be analysing poetry, and will likely be asked literary questions about books you mentioned in your personal statement, or in general. Whilst I’m sure some people have made it into Oxford without studying literature beforehand, I’m willing to bet that number is small and that they did a lot of literature-based reading around the subject.

“Reading round” is another thing you can do to prepare for interview. Tutors like people who are well read. At Oxford, languages take you to all kinds of places. I found myself reading Nietzsche and DH Lawrence as part of my finals for example, something I never thought I’d be doing. It’s a good idea to get a literary guide to help you learn more – I believe I even found mine in a charity shop, and there’ll be plenty on Amazon.

Tutors also want a well-rounded person with outside interests. Use the time between reading this book and applying to develop your talents. Do you enjoy writing? Find out if your school has a journal. Do you like debating? Find a debating society. I even know students who were so passionate about local issues that they joined a local political party and campaigned against inequality. Can you play sport? You want your personal statement to shine, to stand out like a lighthouse. All your competitors will have equally outstanding grades. Your statement and your interview are what will separate you from the rest.

When writing a personal statement, start by thinking about why you were so keen to start learning a language in the first place. Trace your passion back and start from there. A personal statement is a good way of summarising what you’ve done to show an interest in your subject and what you’ve read. Don’t just list everything though – no Oxford languages tutor wants to teach a robot. Can you think of any texts that had an impact on you personally? Why? What did they make you feel? Your personal statement is the first time your prospective tutor will meet you, so it’s important to make a good impression and convey your enthusiasm. Writing a good personal statement can be difficult. By the time mine was sent off, I had endured several almighty rows with my family and been reduced to tears on a couple of occasions, so I understand if you are finding it difficult to summon the courage to put pen to paper. But think about what the reward will be at the other end! You probably won’t like what you’ve written by the end but that’s okay – I hated my final draft! Just remember that you are selling yourself. If you’ve ever applied for a job, think of it as a cover letter: what attracted you, what evidence do you have that you are a suitable candidate, how else have you developed yourself? You’ll also get an opportunity to send off written work beforehand. Usually this consists of one piece of English and one piece of German writing. You can be fairly original with this and show some flair.

It’s all well and being familiar with a language, but an Oxford degree is about more than knowing words and grammar.
Oxford is looking for someone who cares about a country and its culture. In many cases, you will be taught by several different tutors who were born or raised in the country whose language you are studying.
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They often want you to be as interested in their homeland as they are. But where do you begin to show appreciation of a culture that is not your own?

Current affairs are a good place to begin. News, features and documentaries are an excellent place to start learning about the debates, issues and politics that shape a country’s identity. Whilst it might not be a subject that will be picked up at interview, you never can tell. Sadly, we don’t get many foreign TV channels to watch news or documentaries on, and you won’t find many shops that sell foreign magazines. This is where the internet is your friend. Just like British newspapers, many European papers are both online and on Facebook, though some have a paywall. Also, like British newspapers, the language varies considerably. You may want to start with easer tabloid news like Bild (the equivalent of the Sun)

https://www.bild.de/

then build up to die Zeit (the Telegraph)
https://www.zeit.de/index

and from there to die Frankfurter Allgemeine (the Times).
https://www.faz.net/aktuell/

You can also familiarise yourself with the news by watching online. Daily broadcasts such as the German Tagesschau can be downloaded
https://www.tagesschau.de/

whilst others are completely online. One example of this is Deutsche Welle, which has English and German resources and broadcasts digital radio programmes.

https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097

To further show interest, it can also be worth making the journey abroad to a country that speaks your chosen language. Travel broadens the mind and introduces you to a new culture in a direct and immersive way.

Germany has a lot going for it. Berlin has made it through two trying, oppressive regimes and is regaining some of its cultural prominence. The city is filled with history on every corner, from the “Topographie des Terrors”, which shows the outline of the old Gestapo HQ, to the DDR museum and the historic cathedral from the days of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The city has become a magnet for millennials of late, which means you’ll find all sorts of bars and restaurants as well as the infamous Berghain club.

https://www.visitberlin.de/en
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If that isn’t your thing, Germany is home to some of the most beautiful traditional towns in Europe such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber in the southwest, with delightful little cobbled squares.

https://www.bavaria.by/visit/rothenburg-ob-der-tauber/

The south is also filled with dramatic mountain ranges (the perfect place to take “Werther”) and picturesque little villages. Travelling is a great way of meeting new people and familiarising yourself with the culture you’ll be studying at university for four years.

Nor does travel have to be excessively expensive. Like the UK, there are plenty of cheap flight options and hostels available in Europe. Also, rather unlike the UK, train travel tends to be much cheaper on the continent and an interrail pass can get you round most of the country, as it did for me in Germany.

https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrai...SAAEgLM2PD_BwE

Who knows, you might even be able to lure a few friends along and make a good summer out of your trip. How about joining an exchange programme? Pick a town or city you like, and write to the local Rotary Club or town twinning committee.

http://www.clubrunner.ca/CPrg/DxProg...5378&pid=36824

You may be rewarded with a stay in a real German home, with a young person of your own age. Likewise they will expect you to host them on a visit to the UK. And who knows? This may lead to a lifelong friendship! Remember that you don’t necessarily need to travel to gain an understanding of a country, but you will be up against people who have travelled and will therefore need to work harder, read more literature and read around the subject to show an interest.

ll Oxford language applicants have to sit a written test called the MLAT. To see past papers go to the individual subject websites. Download a sample paper, and familiarise yourself with the format. The MLAT is a test of grammar and vocabulary but you’re not expected to know everything, or for all your answers to be perfect.

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/under...ord/tests/mlat

It is very grammar-heavy, but you should have covered most of the content for GCSE, some of it even in year 9. It is worth looking through a good grammar book, or asking your teacher to set you some miscellaneous grammar sentences.

There are some sentences testing word order, and others to check your adjectival endings. Finally there are two translation sections, with sentences to translate from English to German and German to English.
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For the English to German, again the German reading will come in handy, but grammar is very much the central theme. The sentences are designed to test specific grammar points. For instance, let’s look at one of the sentences on a past paper, “a house by the sea”. Would you use the word “bei” for “by?” Or “See” for “sea?” It could be a trap.

In my actual test, I had a sentence from English to German about putting a saucepan into a cupboard. Which version of “put” should I use? “Stecken?” “Stellen?” Neither? Should I use the accusative or dative to translate “in?” And what is the German for “saucepan?” This had a lot of people on the Student Room stumped. Even if you have read tons of articles and novels, the word “saucepan” is a bit mundane and hardly likely to crop up, unless you went on an exchange and helped with the cooking. But what about the children’s book “Usborne first thousand words in German?” There was a double page spread entirely devoted to the kitchen. I bet there is a saucepan somewhere on those two pages!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Thous...gateway&sr=8-1

When you are practising for this test and it is driving you mad, just remember that when my Mum was 17, preparing for the test involved translating a passage of Dickens into German, so think yourself lucky. One of the actual Oxford language tests in the 1980s asked for the German or French for “co-operative farm”. You will not need a brilliant mark in this test, even to win a place, so don’t stress too much about it.

The most important part of the application process for Oxford is the interview. You will be notified about it by email and when you see those words, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But remember, someone has to get in and it may as well be you. Don’t worry about feeling intimidated. Everyone will probably be feeling the same way. Even your prospective tutor probably felt the same all those years ago when he or she was just eighteen.

Remember to keep calm, however you achieve this. Don’t put yourself under too much stress. Look over your personal statement and make sure you can talk about anything you put down. Go over some of your notes from English Literature classes and check you understand poetry analysis before the big day. Keep up to date with any current affairs reading. However, remember that you’re as ready now as you will ever be and at this stage, it’s important to take breaks so that you’re feeling rested and ready.

When you get to your chosen college, there will be plenty of people on hand to help you, show you around and ensure you’re in the right place at the right time. Don’t worry if you’re scared. College interview helpers understand what you’re going through and are more than sympathetic, so don’t feel as if you are alone.

During interviews, you’ll get the chance to meet your fellow applicants in the dining hall or the JCR (a lounge for students in the college). Whilst I can understand if you’re feeling anxious and would perhaps rather stay in your room, interviews are a good chance to socialise with the people you might be studying with for the next few years. If nothing else socialising is a good distraction to keep you from getting nervous.


I had the idea that everyone would be trying to intimidate each other and boasting about the books they’ve read, but they turned out to be unfounded. Language interviews are not like the Apprentice, and all the people I met at interview recognised that putting others down won’t do you any favours. Indeed, everyone I came across was very open, equally nervous and keen on making friends.
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It may also be worth taking your mind off things by looking around the city and seeing what you like about the place, (so long as you don’t lose track of the time and are in the right place at the right time). Tutors won’t look too kindly upon lateness. Everything you need to know will be on display on large boards so you know where you need to go and when. You may have more than one interview, as I did, or an interview at another college, so make sure you are up to date.

When the time comes, you’ll be given a piece to analyse. I did two interviews, one where I analysed a German piece, another where I was given an English piece. Use the preparation time to think about what aspects of the piece you want to discuss. You are sometimes allowed to make notes if that helps. Remember you will be able to apply a lot of the technique you learned in English Literature to the text in front of you. As with everything in Oxford, you don’t need to be an encyclopaedia.

There were things I got wrong at interview but it didn’t matter. I was invited to guess when a specific poem was written. My guess was incorrect. I then had to analyse another poem. At first I did struggle with the point of the piece, but as I gave interesting answers about my theories which did have textual backing, I was fine.

What mattered is that I was able to debate and reason critically. Don’t get too defensive if you made a wrong answer, but make sure that everything you say is backed up by evidence. Oxford tutors love creativity and thinking outside the box, but with evidence. Maybe the poem is about love, but what makes you think that? Maybe the text is political, but why? You’ll be asked “why?” a lot and expected to come up with an answer. If you have been chased down a rabbit hole and can’t go any further, it’s best to admit it than to make up increasingly false and tenuous claims. You have to show that even if you don’t know an answer, you are keen to learn.

They also want to see if you respond well to the Oxford tutorial format and approach. They’re looking for someone to have an engaging conversation with, not just small talk. Tutors are looking for strong and flowing conversation where you bring up points you found interesting. It’s not necessarily important to blurt out the first answer that pops into your head, but to take a moment to consider your words. When I was asked something, I would look at a map of Germany on the wall whilst thinking of what to say. Also it is important to think out loud, so the interviewers know your thought processes.
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At some point in one or both of your interviews, you will be asked about your personal statement. The question can seem as if it came from nowhere. I was asked about my membership of the British Titanic Society, for example. I was asked why I joined and responded by outlining what I loved (and still love) about ocean liners.

I was also asked about “Die Leiden des jungen Werther”, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. It was great to know they had taken note of my personal statement. Amazingly they had parachuted in a PHD student from Hertford College who was studying suicides in German literature. She loved the book as much as I did, so a very pleasant discussion followed. In the end, she had to stop because there was a queue of interviewees outside who were being held up. She said she was sorry she could not carry on “because she was enjoying herself so much”.

At one point, I realised I had made a mistake. I asked if I could backtrack and start again, and they were very happy to let me do so. The interviewers are aware that candidates are nervous, so will make allowances. Even better, I had the presence of mind to realise where I had gone wrong, which is a plus point for interviewers.

One surprise is that you won’t speak as much German as you’d expected. You will be asked to have a brief conversation to assess your spoken fluency, but it won’t usually be about something deep or profound. Bear in mind that your technical knowledge has already been assessed by the MLAT you sat earlier and the work you have already submitted.

In between my two college interviews something happened which I took as a good luck omen. I happened to step into Blackwells and who should I see but Michael Palin, signing copies of “Brazil”. He signed a copy that I gave to Mum (Palin is her favourite celebrity). He also wished me luck and said “I know what it’s like”.

After my two college interviews I waited and waited to be sent elsewhere for more of the same. I watched as others were re-distributed around Oxford but no-one called for me. It may happen to you for all kinds of reasons. I know someone who was sent to three colleges to make sure that all of them were interviewing to the same standard. Don’t worry either way. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything if you are or are not sent to another college.
After a while I was told to go home. I felt a little disappointed because I had actually enjoyed my experience so far. At the porters lodge on my way out I bumped into the German don. I thanked her for a wonderful interview and asked when I would hear. “I wish I could tell you now,” came the reply.

Maybe I should have known there and then that I had got in, but still there will always be a large part of you that is uncertain.

Christmas passed in a nervous haze. Mum insisted on watching “Brideshead Revisited” and I point-blank refused. It’s difficult not to let your thoughts get to you over the holidays. Every little error you make is magnified five hundred times until it becomes the size of an elephant. But from the moment you leave the interview room, there’s nothing more to be done. It’s best to try and put the experience to the back of your mind because, as my Mum would say, worrying won’t change the outcome. I was terrified of every mistake I made, but I still got in.
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I remember being a nervous wreck most of December and some of January. My Mum had gone so far as to take a half day off to await the acceptance letter (although now the news will come to you via a UCAS track update). I asked again and again for the news, but the post where I live is notoriously slow and it wasn’t until the afternoon when I heard.

The first thing my Mum remarked is that the letter was quite thick, which mean she was certain I had got in. I still remember the exact spot I was standing in at school as she sloooooowly opened the letter and her squealing down the phone. Clearly it was good news. I was overjoyed. I’d never been prouder of myself until that point, and there were many more proud moments to come.

To celebrate we went to a Chinese restaurant and then to see the première of “Les Misérables”.

The cinema was packed.

Everyone was crying but me.

I tried to feel sad but couldn’t, because I’d just got into Oxford.

Once you get in and all the excitement has had a moment to subside, it’s time to start thinking about your studies. The core of this will be the literary and the language sides of our degree. Like I said earlier, this means reading a lot of literature and taking in a lot of secondary sources: from journals to lectures. It will also mean a lot of translation and work on your grammar. Because you’ll be studying in England and therefore won’t be practicing with native speakers on a regular basis, you will have speaking, writing and grammar classes as part of your degree. It’s worth buying a reputable dictionary such as one from Collins, as well as a grammar guide (Oxford uses Hammer’s Guide to German Grammar and Usage).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hammers-Gra...y&sr=8-1-fkmr0

You will be asked to translate from English and will need to write extended prose in your language about various themes, which included the refugee crisis, during my time at Oxford.

Every week, at least one of your tutors will set you a literary essay. You’ll be given the text, the question and a list of further recommended reading which will be available in either your college library, or the languages library called the Taylorian, a beautiful building at the end of the Ashmolean museum with a large wood panelled reading room.

https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylor
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The tutorials are much the same. You’ll start by going over your essays and the points you’ve raised, which will be debated with your tutor and the other students in the room.

It’s a good idea to make sure your points are defensible, that you are able to bring something valid and interesting to the table. You need to be able to admit when you’ve made too tenuous a link or jumped to the wrong conclusion as your tutor will see straight through you. You tutor wants a good debate and interesting conversation, not someone stubbornly defending a ridiculous idea.

Your tutor will also bring in different ideas from their experience, which are worth noting down and saving for later. Another paper your tutor will go over is poetry. Usually you won’t need to write a poetry essay, but instead write a commentary on everything you see in the poems from the imagery to the structure, which is really where your English literature will come in handy.

In addition, you may study several other papers, depending on whether you are doing just the one language or combining it with something else. You might find yourself delving into things you never imagined you’d even look at. I studied Middle High German and the texts of Luther for my degree. I read philosophers such as Kant and Nietzsche. I even did a paper on Weimar Cinema. How you go about these extra papers is down to your tutors, but it was exciting to say the least and made studying a language somewhat more relevant to me.
One thing you will have to bear in mind is your year abroad, a unique challenge for language students. You can try to go out on a limb and apply for jobs if you wish, but I tried that and failed to find a job I actually wanted. I finally ended up doing a job I didn’t want to do. If I were to repeat my year abroad, I would put down a university as my choice and spend the year studying, because that’s relatively easy and at least then you will be continuing your student life, but abroad.

Oxford has good links with the British Council and will help with your application if you want to work in a school, for example.

https://www.britishcouncil.org/

Make sure before you apply that you are doing something which you will enjoy, not just box ticking. You’ll need to take on grown-up responsibilities such as registering for healthcare, opening a bank account and making sure any documents you need are in order (who knows what will happen post Brexit?)

When I went abroad, I was also eligible for ERASMUS funding.

https://www.erasmusprogramme.com/

Again, I am unsure of what will happen to this in the next couple of years, but you will need to fund your year abroad regardless. Another reason I would recommend studying rather than working abroad is that it can feel very difficult being away from your university friends for so long. At least at a university there will be other like-minded students to talk to. If you make the right choice, the year abroad can be a really rewarding experience. What can be better than first-hand experience of German Christmas markets, or lazy Sundays walking by the Rhein?


When you get back, you should find that your fluency has really improved and that you’re much more confident discussing cultural topics than before.
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The hardest part of final year can be the disconnect. You spent your third year out (unless you study Russian) whilst all your friends have been graduating and moving on with their lives. I was glad I had friends in the year below, and it is worth putting in the effort with them.

It’s also worth considering what you want to do with your degree. Maybe you want to stay and do a master’s degree? Maybe you want to do a law conversion course? Maybe you want to move abroad? With a languages degree from Oxford, the sky’s the limit.

More German resources:

University of Oxford German subject pages

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...nguages?wssl=1
https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...-german?wssl=1
https://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/german

FAQs for Modern Languages courses at Oxford

https://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/faqs

Competition for German Students (organised by Oxford University)
http://www.ogn.ox.ac.uk/

Lidl supports Oxford University German students

https://www.campaign.ox.ac.uk/news/l...tudy-of-german

Oxford University German Society

http://www.oxford-germansoc.co.uk/

Oxford German Stammtisch
https://www.meetup.com/Oxford-German-Stammtisch/

Modern languages interviews – Oxford alternative prospectus

http://apply.oxfordsu.org/courses/mo...es/interviews/

Modern languages interview questions
http://www.oxfordinterviewquestions....val-languages/

Modern languages interview described
https://carambalache.wordpress.com/2...ern-languages/
https://www.oxbridgeessays.com/blog/...ern-languages/

Oxford Modern Languages Explained (youtube video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtLBNhuVJWY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKxUG4Hw1eQ
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Here is the link to the Oxford German course:

https://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/german#undergraduate

As you are studying a languages degree, you’ll be expected to be proficient in your chosen language. There are a couple of exceptions – Russian ab initio or Oriental Languages for example – but having a good grasp of the nuts and bolts is expected of you before you even log on to UCAS.

A large part of the course will centre on literature. If you’re not a bookworm, go for Maths instead because your average languages tutor will be expecting someone as mad about literature as they are.

At Oxford, a nation’s literature is inseparable from a nation’s culture. The key to showing an interest is to read. To paraphrase Dory – keep reading! I wouldn’t necessarily panic if you feel that the literary greats are a bit beyond your comprehension, maybe start with something simpler and build up your confidence. Write down the words you don’t know as you go along and use a dictionary such as Collins to look them up.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Ger...gateway&sr=8-1

Then memorise the new vocabulary.

In the case of German, I’d start with something like Dürrenmatt’s “der Richter und sein Henker”, which is a kind of Swiss Agatha Christie.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richter-sei...s%2C134&sr=8-1

Then, to ease you into the literature, try one of my favourite books, “Sansibar oder der letzte Grund” by Alfred Andersch.

A disparate group of people (a boy, two communists, a vicar and a Jew) try to smuggle a religious statue out of Nazi Germany. There is tension, there is romance, and there is death. I was so worried about the Jewish girl, Judith, that at times I felt she was real.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sansibar-Le...gateway&sr=8-1

Other recommended books are “Leben des Galilei” (Berthold Brecht)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leben-Galil...gateway&sr=8-1
And basically if having to read and analyse this much literature is intimidating, then seriously consider whether you'd be better off applying to Cambridge rather than Oxford, where there is (particularly in the German department) a lot less of a singular focus on literature and a lot of options that cover philosophy, history and linguistics, so it's possible to just do non-literature options from the second year onwards.
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TheMadNerd93
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Hello there, adoody28! Thank you a million for investing all this effort to introduce us to this part of the enormous Oxford uni world. I would like to extend my sincere wishes for you to graduate with not only the highest grades but also the best of knowledge. It is quite vivid that you are following the path you are passionate about, and this is the most important element for a promising progress and desirable outcomes!
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Oxford Mum
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A didn’t graduate with the best of grades, I have to admit. However he did make a lot of friends and grew massively in confidence. This tends to impress prospective employers.
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TheMadNerd93
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
A didn’t graduate with the best of grades, I have to admit. However he did make a lot of friends and grew massively in confidence. This tends to impress prospective employers.
So, he has made the total best of his uni journey, and that's what matters:shakehand:
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Oxford Mum
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Yes, he was a bnoc, ie a big name on campus. That means he was one of the ten most famous people in the whole of Oxford university. He does these exuberant things like bursting into song ( mostly from les miserables ) round his local city of a Saturday night.
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