Russian or Spanish A level?? - Oxbridge

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chazlh
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#1
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#1
I'm interested in (hopefully) doing Modern Languages at either Oxford or Cambridge (or, failing that, somewhere else, but that's surely not the attitude?), and currently going into L6.

The problem is that I have applied for the ab initio Russian course which my school offers for A level, instead of choosing Spanish.

My other A level options are Mths, Hist. and French, and I am wondering whether starting a new (and hard) language, instead of one I've studied at GCSE, with the expectation of an A in two years, is a potential error? Should I switch to Spanish or is it really worth having a harder language at A level?

Help will be highly appreciated, not long till term starts
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Everglow
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#2
Report 7 years ago
#2
You could request some statistics from the Russian teacher about previous results to see how well people tend to do on the ab initio course. Ab initio courses tend to be perfect for people who are naturally good at languages (often those who are bilingual from a young age) which I assume you are if you're aspiring for Oxbridge.

What language(s) do you want to study at university? You should check requirements for the courses and see if, Russian for example, requires the A Level to study it.

Ultimately you want the best results possible, so you have to try and work out which language(s) will get you the best grades which you'll need for Oxbridge. It's good to aim high, but be realistic, relative to your ability. Hope this helps.
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chazlh
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#3
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#3
(Original post by Reluire)
You could request some statistics from the Russian teacher about previous results to see how well people tend to do on the ab initio course. Ab initio courses tend to be perfect for people who are naturally good at languages (often those who are bilingual from a young age) which I assume you are if you're aspiring for Oxbridge.

What language(s) do you want to study at university? You should check requirements for the courses and see if, Russian for example, requires the A Level to study it.

Ultimately you want the best results possible, so you have to try and work out which language(s) will get you the best grades which you'll need for Oxbridge. It's good to aim high, but be realistic, relative to your ability. Hope this helps.
Hi, thanks for the help.

I meet the requirements for ab initio Russian (a* in language gcse), but I'm wondering whether it's a risk worth taking, instead of doing Spanish? Will doing Russian A level in 2 years impress Oxbridge? Or will they not care and therefore should I switch to Spanish for which I already have an A* in GCSE?
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Everglow
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#4
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#4
(Original post by chazlh)
Hi, thanks for the help.

I meet the requirements for ab initio Russian (a* in language gcse), but I'm wondering whether it's a risk worth taking, instead of doing Spanish? Will doing Russian A level in 2 years impress Oxbridge? Or will they not care and therefore should I switch to Spanish for which I already have an A* in GCSE?
I couldn't say for absolutely sure, but I think a top grade in any MFL is very impressive to Oxbridge and any other uni for that matter - Spanish or Russian. I think Spanish is certainly the safer choice, particularly as you have the A* GCSE, but if you think you can succeed with Russian and it's what you want to do, give it a go. Russian would be extremely impressive - but I'm only slightly apprehensive because it is a very tough language obviously and it's worlds apart from Germanic or Romanic languages, so you would have to be an exceptional linguist to achieve a top grade in it without previously learning it. Spanish is an excellent language to learn, though, and it is impressive to achieve highly in it, so this is really a case of you choosing what you feel most excited and passionate about. Pick the language that is going to make you want to get out of bed in the morning so that you can go and learn it.
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chazlh
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#5
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#5
(Original post by Reluire)
I couldn't say for absolutely sure, but I think a top grade in any MFL is very impressive to Oxbridge and any other uni for that matter - Spanish or Russian. I think Spanish is certainly the safer choice, particularly as you have the A* GCSE, but if you think you can succeed with Russian and it's what you want to do, give it a go. Russian would be extremely impressive - but I'm only slightly apprehensive because it is a very tough language obviously and it's worlds apart from Germanic or Romanic languages, so you would have to be an exceptional linguist to achieve a top grade in it without previously learning it. Spanish is an excellent language to learn, though, and it is impressive to achieve highly in it, so this is really a case of you choosing what you feel most excited and passionate about. Pick the language that is going to make you want to get out of bed in the morning so that you can go and learn it.
Thanks a lot for the reply, your advice has been very helpful and influential on my decision. My current inclination is requesting to change subject from Russian to Spanish.

However, just to ask what you think, would it be of advantage to learn some Russian grammar and vocabulary out of lessons, potentially even taking a GCSE in it? Would this be beneficial to university applications, as well as, of course, satisfying an interest in the language?

Muchas gracias (or even спасибo!)
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Everglow
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#6
Report 7 years ago
#6
(Original post by chazlh)
Thanks a lot for the reply, your advice has been very helpful and influential on my decision. My current inclination is requesting to change subject from Russian to Spanish.

However, just to ask what you think, would it be of advantage to learn some Russian grammar and vocabulary out of lessons, potentially even taking a GCSE in it? Would this be beneficial to university applications, as well as, of course, satisfying an interest in the language?

Muchas gracias (or even спасибo!)
I'm glad I've been able to help. You just have to do what feels right.

Yeah that sounds like a great alternative to taking a huge gamble on the Ab Initio course. Not only is it a lot less risky to study Russian in this way, but it's a talking point for your university applications because you're showing how you go the extra mile beyond your studies. Going beyond the normal is exactly what the top universities are looking for as well.

¡Buena suerte! (or even удачи )
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AlexKay99
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#7
Report 7 years ago
#7
As someone who studied both Spanish and Russian, Spanish is significantly easier than Russian and personally I do not believe anyone would be able to get an A* in A level Russian after only 2 years of studying it from scratch. I read an article where a Cambridge student studying Russian said she was 'barely at A level' standard after a year at Cambridge, on top of that she mentioned she didn't even study Russian at A level because it would have been too hard.
I would go with Spanish to be on the safe side.

Sorry to disappoint. I'm bilingual in Russian and Spanish, by the way but that is only after 17 and 6 years of study
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