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    I'm hoping to start ab-initio Spanish at university next year along with French and want to learn some before I go, but I'm not sure which option would be the best. My local FE college offers a 'Spanish for Beginners' course costing £100 and resulting in a London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) qualification. My local adult community college offers a GCSE Spanish course for £162, which would be perfect, but they don't accept under 18s and I won't be 18 until March when the course starts in September. They also say you need to have completed a NCFE 2 course or have 2-3 years' experience learning the language, which I don't. I could do a GCSE by distance learning with ICS, but it would cost me £280 plus exam fees :eek: and although I could afford that because I have savings, I don't know if it's really worth it. So my question is, should I a) buy a teach yourself course from a bookshop and not worry about a qualification, b) go with the £100 LCCI course, or c) shell out £300 for a GCSE? Any opinions would be welcome
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    (Original post by kellywood_5)
    I'm hoping to start ab-initio Spanish at university next year along with French and want to learn some before I go, but I'm not sure which option would be the best. My local FE college offers a 'Spanish for Beginners' course costing £100 and resulting in a London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) qualification. My local adult community college offers a GCSE Spanish course for £162, which would be perfect, but they don't accept under 18s and I won't be 18 until March when the course starts in September. They also say you need to have completed a NCFE 2 course or have 2-3 years' experience learning the language, which I don't. I could do a GCSE by distance learning with ICS, but it would cost me £280 plus exam fees :eek: and although I could afford that because I have savings, I don't know if it's really worth it. So my question is, should I a) buy a teach yourself course from a bookshop and not worry about a qualification, b) go with the £100 LCCI course, or c) shell out £300 for a GCSE? Any opinions would be welcome
    It would show good commitment to your university course to get a qualification in Spanish beforehand, alongside your 4 A2s. Pretty impressive.
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    (Original post by red_roadkill)
    It would show good commitment to your university course to get a qualification in Spanish beforehand, alongside your 4 A2s. Pretty impressive.
    So do you think the LCCI course would be enough or would a GCSE be better?
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    (Original post by kellywood_5)
    So do you think the LCCI course would be enough or would a GCSE be better?
    I'm not sure really, whichever you feel will give you the best introduction to Spanish and whichever will develop your Spanish the most. Maybe ask the universities you plan to apply to about which course they would feel is better. Cambridge will love you asking (it looks good to enter into discussion with them before applying) - email one of the lecturers or relevant language fellows at your college.
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    (Original post by red_roadkill)
    I'm not sure really, whichever you feel will give you the best introduction to Spanish and whichever will develop your Spanish the most. Maybe ask the universities you plan to apply to about which course they would feel is better. Cambridge will love you asking (it looks good to enter into discussion with them before applying) - email one of the lecturers or relevant language fellows at your college.
    Thanks for your help I'm pretty sure a GCSE would be better, but it's also 3 times the price. I curse my school for not offering it when I was actually taking GCSEs :rolleyes:
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    I would say a), and use any money left over for a nice trip to Spain in the summer before you go to uni to learn about the culture of it all. If you want to put something on your personal statement, a teach yourself course is probably just as valuable as going to lessons, and it shows that you have the initiative and commitment to pick it up yourself. Plus, you can do it at your own pace. If you’re worried about not knowing any Spanish before you go to uni, don’t be, there will probably be people of all levels in an ab-initio class, some with a GCSE, some who have had a few classes and some who know nothing at all, so you will learn everything very intensively and very quickly once you start uni. Basically, I think your money and time is better spent elsewhere. I assume you are doing a-levels right now? Its better to concentrate on those rather than get an unnecessary qualification. I did ab initio Spanish, and I did go to evening classes beforehand but I had a gap year so I had a lot of time on my hands. My teacher was very good and I learnt a lot which gave me a bit of a head start once I started my degree, but there were no exams and I didn’t get a gcse or anything, just a Open College Network certificate. If you stick at it you can learn a lot from a book. I used one called Pasos which by coincidence ended up being the course book for my evening classes, and it was good for learning the basics. And do the usual watch films, listen to music blah blah to pick it up.

    Maybe if you really want to do a course you can think about these one or two week courses you can do in the country next summer? You wouldn’t get a qualification but it would probably be a lot more fun.
    The most important thing is once you start your course at uni keep on top of it, you do learn a hell of a lot and in my course we were with post a level students in the second year, so regardless of there knowledge of Spanish before the start of uni, the students who didn’t work hard in the language classes fell behind very quickly, and those who kept track of what they were doing fared far better.
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    (Original post by kellywood_5)
    Thanks for your help I'm pretty sure a GCSE would be better, but it's also 3 times the price. I curse my school for not offering it when I was actually taking GCSEs :rolleyes:
    Yes I think a GCSE would probably be better, it's an approved qualification, not just a beginners course. By the end of GCSE (if you get like an A*/A) the level of your ability should be quite high. I know when I'd finished French GCSE I would have been able to have a conversation with a French person.
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    i think it depends what your aim is. if money is not important and if its to look good on your cv, i would say the GCSE. If its to impress the unis, anything that shows you are actively trying to learn this language would be a huge plus, be it an official qualification or a teach yourself thing and the intent to travel to the country. if you only want to impress the uni, i wouldnt necessarily spend a lot of money on a course because it is not a pre-requisite for ab-initio, so i would go about it another way. as i said before, if it is just because you want to get a bit ahead before you start, any way would be beneficial, but i would go for a teach myself thing.
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    If you only have a year, but have no experience in Spanish or any additional languages other than French then doing a GCSE might sound like a good idea, but it might be quite hard by distance learning without any help, especially for the oral exam. If you tell Cambridge that you're learning it by yourself, then concentrate on getting 3/4 As then they won't hold it against you for not getting a qualification especially as you weren't given the option in school. A GCSE is obviously good but getting an A/A* grade in a year will be very difficult.
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    (Original post by leannemann)
    If you only have a year, but have no experience in Spanish or any additional languages other than French then doing a GCSE might sound like a good idea, but it might be quite hard by distance learning without any help, especially for the oral exam. If you tell Cambridge that you're learning it by yourself, then concentrate on getting 3/4 As then they won't hold it against you for not getting a qualification especially as you weren't given the option in school. A GCSE is obviously good but getting an A/A* grade in a year will be very difficult.
    Have you ever done any distance learning courses? If so, what are your experiences? Obviously it must be harder when you don't have a teacher or other people to practice your speaking with, but judging by the ICS website, you can contact someone with any questions you have, and my French teacher speaks Spanish, so I'm sure she'd help me. I know you usually do a GCSE in 2 years and have 3 years of learning the language before that, but I remember most of the Key Stage 3 stuff being pretty pointless and it would be better when I could go at my own pace without being held back by other people. I'm not sure.....my only fear is that if I decide to take a GCSE and list it as pending on my UCAS form, universities might include it in my offer, so I couldn't afford to screw it up.
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    I have done an AS by distance learning and am just starting GCSE Italian as well. You can contact people, but it's normally between certain hours. I was allowed to contact my tutor between 5-8pm. I don't get back from school until 6.30-7pm, so that wasn't too great. I never actually phoned her though, I just used email. I did Spanish GCSE in 2/3 years - didn't do much for 2 of them though as I had a supply teacher. Basically, I would say that doing a GCSE is too expensive to waste by forcing yourself to do it in a year. My course is free which helps, and Italian isn't too bad with a very good command of French and Spanish. I would agree with someone who said that money would be better spent actually going to Spain, and learning some basics by yourself & mentioning both of these in your personal statement. GSCEs are supposed to be 300 hours of learning time and 15 hours of revision. That's a lot of extra stress. I'm doing Italian because it doesn't really matter too much but doing one which could be included in an offer is very dangerous and you're studying it ab-initio - that's the whole point!!! Just enjoy the experience of learning something new at uni, as long as you're sure it's what you want to do, I know I will!
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    (Original post by leannemann)
    I have done an AS by distance learning and am just starting GCSE Italian as well. You can contact people, but it's normally between certain hours. I was allowed to contact my tutor between 5-8pm. I don't get back from school until 6.30-7pm, so that wasn't too great. I never actually phoned her though, I just used email. I did Spanish GCSE in 2/3 years - didn't do much for 2 of them though as I had a supply teacher. Basically, I would say that doing a GCSE is too expensive to waste by forcing yourself to do it in a year. My course is free which helps, and Italian isn't too bad with a very good command of French and Spanish. I would agree with someone who said that money would be better spent actually going to Spain, and learning some basics by yourself & mentioning both of these in your personal statement. GSCEs are supposed to be 300 hours of learning time and 15 hours of revision. That's a lot of extra stress. I'm doing Italian because it doesn't really matter too much but doing one which could be included in an offer is very dangerous and you're studying it ab-initio - that's the whole point!!! Just enjoy the experience of learning something new at uni, as long as you're sure it's what you want to do, I know I will!
    OK, thanks for your help Out of interest, why is your course free?
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    it's because my local college doesn't offer the subjects through evening classes so they have to pay for me to do it by distance learning but most languages are available through evening classes. I think that's why at least...
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    (Original post by leannemann)
    it's because my local college doesn't offer the subjects through evening classes so they have to pay for me to do it by distance learning but most languages are available through evening classes. I think that's why at least...
    There's an adult community college where I live that offers a GCSE in Spanish as an evening class, but they don't accept under 18s, even though most places like that will take you at 16 :mad:
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    have you asked if they will overlook the fact that you are about 6 months too young? maybe they will, since you will actually be 18 by the time the course ends. maybe its worth a shot if you havent tried?
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    That's a bit of a pain. You could ask them, as suggested, but in the end it doesn't matter. Cambridge are really impressed by people teaching themselves things as it shows committment and motivation so you can play that card.
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    I'm in exactly the same situation as you Kellywood! I've just finished my GCSE's but my school didn't do Spanish but I want to do Spanish at Uni.

    I've started a distance learning GCSE course with OLCI. It costs £250 I think and I have a tutor to contact, a textbook with audio tapes and a folder with work to do to go with it.

    My course arrived last week and it's going well so far. I'm doing it in a year at the same time as French and German at A-level so it will be a lot of work but it will be worth it if I can get a GCSE with a good grade before starting Spanish ab-initio, or more likely Spanish studies at University.
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    Spanish studies is different though as that's purely Spanish so there's plenty of time to pick the language up. With a knowledge of two languages, picking a third up in a year isn't as difficult.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    I'm in exactly the same situation as you Kellywood! I've just finished my GCSE's but my school didn't do Spanish but I want to do Spanish at Uni.

    I've started a distance learning GCSE course with OLCI. It costs £250 I think and I have a tutor to contact, a textbook with audio tapes and a folder with work to do to go with it.

    My course arrived last week and it's going well so far. I'm doing it in a year at the same time as French and German at A-level so it will be a lot of work but it will be worth it if I can get a GCSE with a good grade before starting Spanish ab-initio, or more likely Spanish studies at University.
    That sounds really good Do you by any chance have a link to the website for OLCI?
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    (Original post by princessa)
    have you asked if they will overlook the fact that you are about 6 months too young? maybe they will, since you will actually be 18 by the time the course ends. maybe its worth a shot if you havent tried?
    The thing is, they also say you need to have done an NCFE 2 course, whatever that is, or have 2-3 years' experience learning the language, so I'd be asking them to accept me despite being half a year too young and not meeting the entry requirements. They might just say that because most people on the course won't have been in education for a while though and they want to be sure they can cope. If I have an A* in French, which is quite similar to Spanish, at GCSE and an A at AS, they might not care since they'll have proof of my language learning ability, and I'll be 18 when I do the exams. I guess it's worth a try. I'll have a think about it and if I still want to do the GCSE, I'll contact them
 
 
 
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