Extra reading/activities for Languages at Oxbridge?Watch
Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions of extra things to do for applying for modern languages (not even necessarily at Oxbridge)?
Just to qualify the above two posters' advice:
At Oxford, linguistics olympiads would be useful if applying for Modern Languages and Linguistics, or if you're applying to do certain languages from scratch (like Russian). as you will have a linguistics aptitude test to do. For other Modern Languages combinations though the types of linguistic puzzles you get in the Olympiads would be irrelevant for entrance, which will mostly focus on grammar + literary analysis. For Cambridge I'm not sure though....
Furthermore, you don't have to be fluent in the language(s) - oral competency is good but probably slightly less important than comprehension and grammar/writing + your ability to think critically about literature, philosophy and wider culture.
I would suggest you explore the culture of your chosen languages by reading some literature/thought or watching films.
I had a cheeky stalk of your profile and see you're interested in French. I'd recommend looking at a wide variety of periods and genres so you get an overview of French lit.
Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire is a classic first year text. This website (http://fleursdumal.org/1868-table-of-contents) has the whole collection + various English translations (it's fascinating to see the different ways people have tried to translate the nuances of each poem).
I would also recommend Pierre de Ronsard, Alphonse de Lamartine, Verlaine and, for something more recent, Prévert. It might be a good idea to get an anthology, which will be the best way of dipping into different works.
It might also be a good idea to look into French versification: http://utils.exeter.ac.uk/french/ing...sification.htm
This is best combined with reflection on how versification can produce particular effects or contribute thematically to a poem. The book The appreciation of modern French poetry by Peter Broome and Graham Chesters is a great guide to this.
Any tragedy by Racine (Phèdre and Andromaque are my favourites) -- these tragedies are very different in style to English authors like Shakespeare.
Any comedy by Molière (Le bourgeois gentilhomme is my favourite, Tartuffe is also very good)
For more modern plays you could try the existentialist plays by Sartre (e.g. Huis Clos and Les Mouches)
L'Etranger by Camus is the classic pre-university read. Voltaire's Candide also seems pretty popular.
I read and greatly enjoyed Les Liaisons dangereuses before university, though it was challenging.
You might also look at Flaubert's short stories.
You certainly don't have to read all of these to get into Oxbridge (indeed my friend had read only one book in French before being accepted) but it's just to give you somewhere to start when thinking about extra reading.