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    Hi

    So I am currently making my A-Level choices so I know uni is a little way off yet but my intentions for the future are to study languages at university. I was hoping if people who have experience of languages at university and A Level as well could tell me what to expect? So how difficult is the A Level exam and how are most language degrees taught and how much independent study is required? And also what's life like studying languages at uni?

    Thanks
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    (Original post by cristin_marks)
    Hi

    So I am currently making my A-Level choices so I know uni is a little way off yet but my intentions for the future are to study languages at university. I was hoping if people who have experience of languages at university and A Level as well could tell me what to expect? So how difficult is the A Level exam and how are most language degrees taught and how much independent study is required? And also what's life like studying languages at uni?

    Thanks
    I did French, German and Italian A Level... back in 2010 just after they'd introduced the new syllabus/A*, and I don't think the A Level exams are that demanding. By that I mean, I don't think doing a language A Level is any harder than doing another subject that you are equally good at.

    One thing I would say however, is that it depends on how you were taught for GCSE. A Level requires a lot more "production", that is, you being spontaneously able to come up with sentences in the foreign language and being able to manipulate the language. I did some work experience in a school recently and I was pretty surprised by the GCSE students - many of them had just learnt set sentences and had very little idea of how to communicate outside of those phrases. The teacher explained to me that that is largely due to how the newer GCSE's are taught, and so perhaps for you, you might find that it is a bigger step up.
    You are certainly expected to know a lot more grammar for A Level too.

    How language degrees are taught? This will obviously vary from uni to uni. I did French, German and Japanese at Newcastle. Each year you took 120 credits. 20 credits of each language (40 credits for beginner languages and Chinese/Japanese) and the rest culture modules.
    So I did 80 credits language, 40 credits culture. Without the Japanese I'd have been doing 40 credits language, 80 credits culture. Culture modules vary massively on subject: linguistics, film, literature, translation, history, politics etc etc. And they'll also vary on how much they're taught and assessed in the foreign language. And of course you can also combine languages with other subjects like business.
    In first year for example, our lectures were in the foreign language, but seminars and assessment were in English. In final year it's more common to have more assessment in the FL as you're much more fluent then!

    For the languages themselves we had 1 hour grammar lecture a week and a 2 hour seminar in a smaller group (max 15) in a language lab. In final year that became 2 hours of interpreting seminar and 2 hours of translation/writing seminar. For Japanese we had 6 hours of small group seminars a week, including an hour a week in a language lab.

    At this stage I'd basically advise picking a good range of subjects so you keep your options open. Taking subjects like English or History alongside a language A Level will pretty much keep any humanities degree open to you, and they're beneficial if you do decide to continue with languages at university.
    Then you've got the next 18 months or so to decide which subjects are really for you and visit the unis to find out more etc
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    (Original post by sophia5892)
    I did French, German and Italian A Level... back in 2010 just after they'd introduced the new syllabus/A*, and I don't think the A Level exams are that demanding. By that I mean, I don't think doing a language A Level is any harder than doing another subject that you are equally good at.

    One thing I would say however, is that it depends on how you were taught for GCSE. A Level requires a lot more "production", that is, you being spontaneously able to come up with sentences in the foreign language and being able to manipulate the language. I did some work experience in a school recently and I was pretty surprised by the GCSE students - many of them had just learnt set sentences and had very little idea of how to communicate outside of those phrases. The teacher explained to me that that is largely due to how the newer GCSE's are taught, and so perhaps for you, you might find that it is a bigger step up.
    You are certainly expected to know a lot more grammar for A Level too.

    How language degrees are taught? This will obviously vary from uni to uni. I did French, German and Japanese at Newcastle. Each year you took 120 credits. 20 credits of each language (40 credits for beginner languages and Chinese/Japanese) and the rest culture modules.
    So I did 80 credits language, 40 credits culture. Without the Japanese I'd have been doing 40 credits language, 80 credits culture. Culture modules vary massively on subject: linguistics, film, literature, translation, history, politics etc etc. And they'll also vary on how much they're taught and assessed in the foreign language. And of course you can also combine languages with other subjects like business.
    In first year for example, our lectures were in the foreign language, but seminars and assessment were in English. In final year it's more common to have more assessment in the FL as you're much more fluent then!

    For the languages themselves we had 1 hour grammar lecture a week and a 2 hour seminar in a smaller group (max 15) in a language lab. In final year that became 2 hours of interpreting seminar and 2 hours of translation/writing seminar. For Japanese we had 6 hours of small group seminars a week, including an hour a week in a language lab.

    At this stage I'd basically advise picking a good range of subjects so you keep your options open. Taking subjects like English or History alongside a language A Level will pretty much keep any humanities degree open to you, and they're beneficial if you do decide to continue with languages at university.
    Then you've got the next 18 months or so to decide which subjects are really for you and visit the unis to find out more etc
    Thank you very much, that's really helpful . Languages at my school for GCSE are taught with the principle that you are taught all the grammar very thoroughly and you are encouraged to pick up vocab meaning that from an early stage you are able to construct sentences and converse at basic levels. Hopefully that will give me a good grounding. Thanks again for your help!
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    (Original post by cristin_marks)
    Thank you very much, that's really helpful . Languages at my school for GCSE are taught with the principle that you are taught all the grammar very thoroughly and you are encouraged to pick up vocab meaning that from an early stage you are able to construct sentences and converse at basic levels. Hopefully that will give me a good grounding. Thanks again for your help!
    Yup you should be fine! I didn't find the move difficult at all for French. German was a bigger step up, but that was because I did that as an extra for GCSE with just one hour a week.
    So I arrived at college not even knowing how to conjugate regular verbs in the present tense

    But even with that I soon caught up to my classmates.
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    (Original post by sophia5892)
    Yup you should be fine! I didn't find the move difficult at all for French. German was a bigger step up, but that was because I did that as an extra for GCSE with just one hour a week.
    So I arrived at college not even knowing how to conjugate regular verbs in the present tense

    But even with that I soon caught up to my classmates.
    Out of the two German is probably my stronger language cos I did the GCSE early so I have been doing a bridging course between GCSE and a level for the past two years!
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    (Original post by cristin_marks)
    Out of the two German is probably my stronger language cos I did the GCSE early so I have been doing a bridging course between GCSE and a level for the past two years!
    Haha, A Level should be dead easy for you then!
    Good luck with your choices
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    (Original post by sophia5892)
    Haha, A Level should be dead easy for you then!
    Good luck with your choices
    Thank you
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    Considering what you've written about solid grounding in grammar at GCSE, you should deal with A-Level pretty well. I found the jump from GCSE to AS greater than AS to A2, as you develop the language so much in that year. AS was just an extension of what you do at GCSE (this is on AQA), and A2 was far more interesting and I enjoyed it far more because there were things you could have a little class debate on, as our topics covered the environment and multiculturalism.

    I'm in my first year doing French and ab initio Spanish at Cambridge. I'm only doing French post A-Level because French was the only language available in my school for GCSE, so the only one they'd let me pick up at A-Level in sixth form. In Spanish, we're pushed quite a lot as we're to get to sort of around B2 level (in European framework - So about post A-Level). I don't know how useful I can be as the style of teaching here is rather different due to the supervision system. I do a lot of independent study for the literature area of my degree, whereas things like grammar are usually covered in a class and we get given set exercises to do.

    If you have any other questions/want more detail, just let me know!
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    (Original post by Paralove)
    Considering what you've written about solid grounding in grammar at GCSE, you should deal with A-Level pretty well. I found the jump from GCSE to AS greater than AS to A2, as you develop the language so much in that year. AS was just an extension of what you do at GCSE (this is on AQA), and A2 was far more interesting and I enjoyed it far more because there were things you could have a little class debate on, as our topics covered the environment and multiculturalism.

    I'm in my first year doing French and ab initio Spanish at Cambridge. I'm only doing French post A-Level because French was the only language available in my school for GCSE, so the only one they'd let me pick up at A-Level in sixth form. In Spanish, we're pushed quite a lot as we're to get to sort of around B2 level (in European framework - So about post A-Level). I don't know how useful I can be as the style of teaching here is rather different due to the supervision system. I do a lot of independent study for the literature area of my degree, whereas things like grammar are usually covered in a class and we get given set exercises to do.

    If you have any other questions/want more detail, just let me know!
    Thank you so much for the reply you've been very helpful!

    Do you mind if I ask what grades you got at A-Level?
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    (Original post by cristin_marks)
    Thank you so much for the reply you've been very helpful!

    Do you mind if I ask what grades you got at A-Level?
    A*AA in geography, french and maths.
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    (Original post by Paralove)
    A*AA in geography, french and maths.
    Wow, that's really good! Thanks!
 
 
 
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