Really cannot decide on a language degree. (Outsider's perspectives needed!) Watch

Iggy Azalea
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I'm applying for university later this year (for 2015 entry), and I definitely know I want to study a languages degree. But I cannot seem to decide on the languages as I enjoy learning any language. I'm going to take Spanish since it's valuable and will be a reliable investment given the growth of Latin America.

Spanish and/with...

- Japanese
- Chinese
- Portuguese

Career-wise, I'm looking at being a teacher (either MFL or TEFL). I am also considering being an interpreter or perhaps going into travel or the civil service.

What combination would you advise I do?
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Snufkin
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I'm not going to advise you to do any combination because this decision is entirely dependent on you, your interests and your abilities.

You might be able to take Portuguese as part of the Spanish half of your degree. You should research universities and their individual degree structures/module choices (which will vary enormously) thoroughly and see which unis offer you this option.

Have you tried learning all three languages? Which did you enjoy most? Which culture are you more interested in learning about? Are you prepared to spend many more years studying after leaving university before you're fluent in Chinese or Japanese? Do you want to split your year abroad between two countries, or would you prefer to spend your whole year in just one country? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

It is my understanding that prospective MFL teachers who can only offer one mainstream language (in your case, Spanish) are at a disadvantage. If you do not have at least a basic knowledge of French or German, you would be well advised to start learning one, at least to GCSE level. Edit: Just looked at your forum profile and it says you're doing an A level in French, so ignore my last paragraph.
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ronmcd
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(Original post by Iggy Azalea)
I'm applying for university later this year (for 2015 entry), and I definitely know I want to study a languages degree. But I cannot seem to decide on the languages as I enjoy learning any language. I'm going to take Spanish since it's valuable and will be a reliable investment given the growth of Latin America.

Spanish and/with...

- Japanese
- Chinese
- Portuguese

Career-wise, I'm looking at being a teacher (either MFL or TEFL). I am also considering being an interpreter or perhaps going into travel or the civil service.

What combination would you advise I do?
If you're seriously looking at South America then Portuguese and Spanish would cover all the bases, but personally I would get bored of studying such similar languages for 4 years.

Within Europe French and German are always in demand because of the EU and the amount of trade we do with countries that speak those languages. I'd consider them if I were looking to be an MFL teacher/interpreter in Europe.

Japanese is lots of fun but I wouldn't study it at uni. From what I've seen you don't reach an awfully high level after doing a degree in it, and outside of Japan it isn't much use. People will be impressed, but I wouldn't expect it to be as useful for a job as more mainstream languages. If you really like it, just self study until you get to JLPT N1.

Chinese seems like a good idea because it's an interesting language but also useful for business/diplomacy, plus it's got a rich history and unique culture. I don't think Portuguese can offer the same cultural value, even if Brazil is a BRIC economy and all that.

You might want to look at the British Academy's 'Languages for the future' report for help weighing up all the different languages.

In any case, choose languages based on how much you like them and their associated cultures, then think about growth rates and exports.
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xmertic
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(Original post by Iggy Azalea)
I'm applying for university later this year (for 2015 entry), and I definitely know I want to study a languages degree. But I cannot seem to decide on the languages as I enjoy learning any language. I'm going to take Spanish since it's valuable and will be a reliable investment given the growth of Latin America.

Spanish and/with...

- Japanese
- Chinese
- Portuguese

Career-wise, I'm looking at being a teacher (either MFL or TEFL). I am also considering being an interpreter or perhaps going into travel or the civil service.

What combination would you advise I do?
All tough apart from Portugese (which I have no knowledge on).

I'd say Japanese, everything about it is awesome! But you might find Chinese a little more helpful in terms of a career, but Japanese would still be VERY useful.
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Iggy Azalea
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(Original post by ronmcd)
If you're seriously looking at South America then Portuguese and Spanish would cover all the bases, but personally I would get bored of studying such similar languages for 4 years.

Within Europe French and German are always in demand because of the EU and the amount of trade we do with countries that speak those languages. I'd consider them if I were looking to be an MFL teacher/interpreter in Europe.

Japanese is lots of fun but I wouldn't study it at uni. From what I've seen you don't reach an awfully high level after doing a degree in it, and outside of Japan it isn't much use. People will be impressed, but I wouldn't expect it to be as useful for a job as more mainstream languages. If you really like it, just self study until you get to JLPT N1.

Chinese seems like a good idea because it's an interesting language but also useful for business/diplomacy, plus it's got a rich history and unique culture. I don't think Portuguese can offer the same cultural value, even if Brazil is a BRIC economy and all that.

You might want to look at the British Academy's 'Languages for the future' report for help weighing up all the different languages.

In any case, choose languages based on how much you like them and their associated cultures, then think about growth rates and exports.
Yes that was my concern about Portuguese alongside Spanish. I will probably do it as a optional module then, since it does interest me, and it is useful, but Portuguese is a little bit too similar to Spanish for full time study.

I do French at A Level, and I did German as GCSE. I do like these languages, but I think Spanish could take me around the world. Plus I would like to a be a MFL teacher abroad (sorry I didn't make that clear). So French and German aren't really at the top of my list at the moment. I plan to pick them back up after university though.

And that was precisely my concern about Japanese. I adore the language, it's one of my favourites as it is so unique. But to be honest all the past students I spoke kind of regretted studying it, especially if they took as a single honours option. So I'm a little concerned about taking it since there isn't really a demand for it and it sadly doesn't make me fluent in the language either (unlike a Spanish or French degree does). If you're paying £9000 per year, it might not be the most practical decision.

Thanks for your help.
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sophia5892
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(Original post by Iggy Azalea)
Yes that was my concern about Portuguese alongside Spanish. I will probably do it as a optional module then, since it does interest me, and it is useful, but Portuguese is a little bit too similar to Spanish for full time study.

I do French at A Level, and I did German as GCSE. I do like these languages, but I think Spanish could take me around the world. Plus I would like to a be a MFL teacher abroad (sorry I didn't make that clear). So French and German aren't really at the top of my list at the moment. I plan to pick them back up after university though.

And that was precisely my concern about Japanese. I adore the language, it's one of my favourites as it is so unique. But to be honest all the past students I spoke kind of regretted studying it, especially if they took as a single honours option. So I'm a little concerned about taking it since there isn't really a demand for it and it sadly doesn't make me fluent in the language either (unlike a Spanish or French degree does). If you're paying £9000 per year, it might not be the most practical decision.

Thanks for your help.
I did French, German and Italian at A Level, going on to do French, German and Japanese as my degree (with a couple of optional modules in Dutch).
I would definitely advise against Japanese single honours when you've got 2 A Level languages. After the effort you've put in already it would be silly to drop them and, as previous posters have said, French German and Spanish are still the top 3 in demand languages by businesses in the UK.
That said, I can't remember where Portuguese fell, Mandarin was around 5/6, Japanese was 10th.
I would still say that Mandarin is significantly more useful than Japanese. Although that's not as important when you've combined. I would probably say Mandarin seems harder, but I guess that depends where your talents lie!

Regarding fluency - I would agree that I am not fluent in Japanese after graduation. However, after my year abroad I was 4 marks off passing JLPT 2, so I imagine its fair to say that I am now at JLPT 2 standard, which is the standard most employers ask for. So in terms of job prospects, my not feeling fluent isn't really relevant. Also, I graduated Newcastle with Level C Japanese (normal for someone who came in as a beginner) - 2 of my year group skipped ahead to Level D Japanese which aimed to get you to JLPT 1 standard by graduation. So those two students passed JLPT 2 while in Japan. Trying to skip to Level D was the reason I took the JLPT but yeh... 4 damn marks!!!

I also know that at least 2 students from Chinese skipped into the Level D class.
So I wouldn't say it's impossible to achieve fluency.

I don't know about the people you've spoken to who did single honours Japanese, but the majority of my classmates were studying Japanese as their only language and didn't have much experience of studying languages, so they did seem to struggle and not reach as high a level as I did. Japanese, more than any other language, does seem to attract more "non-language" students - by which I mean those who haven't done A Level languages and don't necessarily have the aptitude/natural skill for learning them.
Obviously you're in a good position having done 2 A Levels in languages so you'd probably not find it as challenging as some

Also, why not consider the 3 languages like I did? French, Spanish and then either Chinese/Japanese/Portuguese? You still get the same amount of language classes as single honours students
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Iggy Azalea
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(Original post by sophia5892)
I did French, German and Italian at A Level, going on to do French, German and Japanese as my degree (with a couple of optional modules in Dutch).
I would definitely advise against Japanese single honours when you've got 2 A Level languages. After the effort you've put in already it would be silly to drop them and, as previous posters have said, French German and Spanish are still the top 3 in demand languages by businesses in the UK.
That said, I can't remember where Portuguese fell, Mandarin was around 5/6, Japanese was 10th.
I would still say that Mandarin is significantly more useful than Japanese. Although that's not as important when you've combined. I would probably say Mandarin seems harder, but I guess that depends where your talents lie!

Regarding fluency - I would agree that I am not fluent in Japanese after graduation. However, after my year abroad I was 4 marks off passing JLPT 2, so I imagine its fair to say that I am now at JLPT 2 standard, which is the standard most employers ask for. So in terms of job prospects, my not feeling fluent isn't really relevant. Also, I graduated Newcastle with Level C Japanese (normal for someone who came in as a beginner) - 2 of my year group skipped ahead to Level D Japanese which aimed to get you to JLPT 1 standard by graduation. So those two students passed JLPT 2 while in Japan. Trying to skip to Level D was the reason I took the JLPT but yeh... 4 damn marks!!!

I also know that at least 2 students from Chinese skipped into the Level D class.
So I wouldn't say it's impossible to achieve fluency.

I don't know about the people you've spoken to who did single honours Japanese, but the majority of my classmates were studying Japanese as their only language and didn't have much experience of studying languages, so they did seem to struggle and not reach as high a level as I did. Japanese, more than any other language, does seem to attract more "non-language" students - by which I mean those who haven't done A Level languages and don't necessarily have the aptitude/natural skill for learning them.
Obviously you're in a good position having done 2 A Levels in languages so you'd probably not find it as challenging as some

Also, why not consider the 3 languages like I did? French, Spanish and then either Chinese/Japanese/Portuguese? You still get the same amount of language classes as single honours students
Thank you for your advice. Really helpful

I have considered taking French and Spanish with another language. However, I'm not sure I should take French as a degree. I have slightly lost interest in it, and I fancy learning something fresh while working on my Spanish. I'm taking at A2 next year though definitely, since it's one of my strongest subjects and it is a worthwhile subject. Just not sure I fancy learning French for the next four years. :confused:

You went to Newcastle, right? I am considering going there, though it's a bit far away from home. What is the languages department like there? And is the any tips you could offer for writing my personal statement for language courses? Sorry there's so many questions, but I figured its best to ask while there's the opportunity.
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