Languages at university Watch

Tilly_Rose
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I'm currently looking at university courses, and I am particularly interested in Spanish and French/German. However, there isn't many universities that I can find offer Spanish and beginner French/German, so I was wondering if anyone knows of any universities that offer this course, or if anyone has done a similar language degree. What was it like? Would you recommend it? If you have finished the course, what kind of area are you going into career wise? Thanks!
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sophia5892
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(Original post by Tilly_Rose)
I'm currently looking at university courses, and I am particularly interested in Spanish and French/German. However, there isn't many universities that I can find offer Spanish and beginner French/German, so I was wondering if anyone knows of any universities that offer this course, or if anyone has done a similar language degree. What was it like? Would you recommend it? If you have finished the course, what kind of area are you going into career wise? Thanks!
Hey,

Newcastle offer Spanish and beginner's French/German on all their Modern Languages degrees. So you have options of either doing the Modern Languages BA or you can combine with Business Studies, Linguistics or Translating & Interpreting.

Birmingham also have an excellent languages department - no beginner's French but you could do Spanish and beginner's German there. I'd have thought Spanish and beginner's German would be pretty easy to find - it's beginner's French that can be a bit harder to get as so many people do French in high school.

As a Newcastle graduate I'd highly recommend the uni. I did French, German and Japanese for my BA (and a little bit of Dutch), and I'm now doing an MA in Translating there. Didn't particularly want to do an MA, but I didn't want to leave the city and I figured an MA is always useful

No career plan as yet - off to South America in September to travel and teach a bit of English.
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Tilly_Rose
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(Original post by sophia5892)
Hey,

Newcastle offer Spanish and beginner's French/German on all their Modern Languages degrees. So you have options of either doing the Modern Languages BA or you can combine with Business Studies, Linguistics or Translating & Interpreting.

Birmingham also have an excellent languages department - no beginner's French but you could do Spanish and beginner's German there. I'd have thought Spanish and beginner's German would be pretty easy to find - it's beginner's French that can be a bit harder to get as so many people do French in high school.

As a Newcastle graduate I'd highly recommend the uni. I did French, German and Japanese for my BA (and a little bit of Dutch), and I'm now doing an MA in Translating there. Didn't particularly want to do an MA, but I didn't want to leave the city and I figured an MA is always useful

No career plan as yet - off to South America in September to travel and teach a bit of English.
I will have to look into those two universities then! I would have done French, but we couldn't do it at GCSE as there wasn't enough interest, which would have made it easier to find a course now!

What kind of things did you do in your degree? I know all degrees are different, but just to get an idea! Also, how were you assessed for things like writing, speaking etc? And did you do any of the languages from a beginners level? If you did, how did you find it, and did you mix up any of your languages by accident at any point?

And that sounds really interesting! I hope you enjoy it!
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sophia5892
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(Original post by Tilly_Rose)
I will have to look into those two universities then! I would have done French, but we couldn't do it at GCSE as there wasn't enough interest, which would have made it easier to find a course now!

What kind of things did you do in your degree? I know all degrees are different, but just to get an idea! Also, how were you assessed for things like writing, speaking etc? And did you do any of the languages from a beginners level? If you did, how did you find it, and did you mix up any of your languages by accident at any point?

And that sounds really interesting! I hope you enjoy it!
Japanese was my beginner's language. French was my first foreign language in year 7, German I did as an extra at GCSE, and carried those two through to A Level. I was quite lucky - there were only 4 of us wanting to do German GCSE but my teacher fought to be allowed to teach us after school so we could still do it!

For me the Newcastle course was good because it's really flexible. It's not like a traditional joint honours course where you have to do a certain credit split. So you could choose to do 80/40 Spanish/German one year, 60/60 the next, 40/80 the next. It's also not heavy on literature.

If you did a Modern Languages and X degree, you'd spend a third of your time on X (eg. Business modules) and do 80 credits of languages. Post-A Level languages are 20 credits a year, the beginner's French/German would be 40 credits in first year and then you'd join the post-A Level group in second year.

So in first year you'd have 60 credits language, and then 3 "cultural" modules. In second and final year, it'd be 40 credits language and then 4 "cultural modules". For Spanish they do have strong research areas in Latin America (Newcastle is one of the most latin american studies focused unis in the country), but there are also modules focused on Europe if that's more your thing.

You can also take modules in subsidiary languages - Catalan, Italian and Quechua for students of Spanish, Dutch for students of German, Catalan and Italian for students of French. So I did 20 credits of Dutch in second and final year which counted as my German "cultural" module for the year.

Newcastle is quite good for/heavy on linguistics and history. By which I mean you'd probably struggle to avoid both of those subjects if you did the Modern Languages BA.

For me it was a little different as Japanese is worth 40 credits every year of the degree. So each year I did 20 credits French, 20 credits German, 40 credits Japanese, 20 credits French culture, 20 credits German culture. For French I did a history module in year 1, linguistics in year 2, and then in final year I started a teaching module but swapped to a cinema one. For german I did linguistics in year one, and then Dutch in second and final year.

So again in that respect it's flexible as you don't necessarily have to have done cinema before to do it in final year!

The Year Abroad is also very flexible. You can choose how you split your year and whether you work, study or do British Council. As long as you do 7 months of approved activities that's fine. Newcastle have plenty of universities partners in France and Spain, and one in Belgium. They have 5 partners in Germany. They're also looking at getting partners in Latin America and one in Montreal so that could be an option.
Work placements are popular and you've got a pretty free choice there.

The good thing with the flexibility is it means you can decide what you want to focus on. So do you want to spend most of your time in Spain as Spanish is your main language, do you want a 50/50 split, or do you want to get your French/German up to the same standard etc. You do also get the option of skipping a language level at Newcastle. So it is theoretically possible to start with beginner's French/German and then take the same level of French/German as your Spanish in final year.

For assessment: I'm not sure about the beginner's (Level A) class for French/German. For Levels B, C and D...

Each year there'll be some element of coursework. Usually this is a bit like practice assignments for the exam so it is useful. And generally coursework will be the best 2 of 3 assignments count. There'll be a final written exam which will assess grammar, reading and writing (essay). Grammar might be as simple as "put x in the past tense" in first year, or it might be translating sentences. In first year speaking was just assessed through your contribution in class but in second year we had a speaking exam where we did a presentation (just to the lecturer) and then answered questions. There's also a listening exam done in exam conditions in class.

For Level D (final year post-A Level or beginner who's skipped ahead), you do an interpreting exam in January to cover speaking and listening, a written exam in June (2 translations and an essay), and coursework.

I didn't find doing 3 languages/Japanese beginner's too bad. I find learning languages easier than writing essays on things like history so it suited me having more language credits! I wouldn't say I mixed my languages up, but I definitely had/have times where i can remember the word i want in every language but the language i need it in!! And in Dutch I definitely had a tendency to just put a Dutch accent on German words whenever I didn't know the correct Dutch vocab!

I could ramble on but this is already realllly long.....
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Tilly_Rose
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(Original post by sophia5892)
Japanese was my beginner's language. French was my first foreign language in year 7, German I did as an extra at GCSE, and carried those two through to A Level. I was quite lucky - there were only 4 of us wanting to do German GCSE but my teacher fought to be allowed to teach us after school so we could still do it!

Wow! It's great that you had such a dedicated teacher!

For me the Newcastle course was good because it's really flexible. It's not like a traditional joint honours course where you have to do a certain credit split. So you could choose to do 80/40 Spanish/German one year, 60/60 the next, 40/80 the next. It's also not heavy on literature.

If you did a Modern Languages and X degree, you'd spend a third of your time on X (eg. Business modules) and do 80 credits of languages. Post-A Level languages are 20 credits a year, the beginner's French/German would be 40 credits in first year and then you'd join the post-A Level group in second year.

So in first year you'd have 60 credits language, and then 3 "cultural" modules. In second and final year, it'd be 40 credits language and then 4 "cultural modules". For Spanish they do have strong research areas in Latin America (Newcastle is one of the most latin american studies focused unis in the country), but there are also modules focused on Europe if that's more your thing.

You can also take modules in subsidiary languages - Catalan, Italian and Quechua for students of Spanish, Dutch for students of German, Catalan and Italian for students of French. So I did 20 credits of Dutch in second and final year which counted as my German "cultural" module for the year.

Newcastle is quite good for/heavy on linguistics and history. By which I mean you'd probably struggle to avoid both of those subjects if you did the Modern Languages BA.

For me it was a little different as Japanese is worth 40 credits every year of the degree. So each year I did 20 credits French, 20 credits German, 40 credits Japanese, 20 credits French culture, 20 credits German culture. For French I did a history module in year 1, linguistics in year 2, and then in final year I started a teaching module but swapped to a cinema one. For german I did linguistics in year one, and then Dutch in second and final year.

So again in that respect it's flexible as you don't necessarily have to have done cinema before to do it in final year!

That structure sounds really good, as you don't have to do something if you really don't want to!

The Year Abroad is also very flexible. You can choose how you split your year and whether you work, study or do British Council. As long as you do 7 months of approved activities that's fine. Newcastle have plenty of universities partners in France and Spain, and one in Belgium. They have 5 partners in Germany. They're also looking at getting partners in Latin America and one in Montreal so that could be an option.
Work placements are popular and you've got a pretty free choice there.


The good thing with the flexibility is it means you can decide what you want to focus on. So do you want to spend most of your time in Spain as Spanish is your main language, do you want a 50/50 split, or do you want to get your French/German up to the same standard etc. You do also get the option of skipping a language level at Newcastle. So it is theoretically possible to start with beginner's French/German and then take the same level of French/German as your Spanish in final year.

That's such a large range of options! I don't know why, but I imagined that everyone would have to do the same thing and you wouldn't get much choice, so it's nice to know that isn't the case!

For assessment: I'm not sure about the beginner's (Level A) class for French/German. For Levels B, C and D...

Each year there'll be some element of coursework. Usually this is a bit like practice assignments for the exam so it is useful. And generally coursework will be the best 2 of 3 assignments count. There'll be a final written exam which will assess grammar, reading and writing (essay). Grammar might be as simple as "put x in the past tense" in first year, or it might be translating sentences. In first year speaking was just assessed through your contribution in class but in second year we had a speaking exam where we did a presentation (just to the lecturer) and then answered questions. There's also a listening exam done in exam conditions in class.

For the speaking, does contribution in class mean asking questions?

For Level D (final year post-A Level or beginner who's skipped ahead), you do an interpreting exam in January to cover speaking and listening, a written exam in June (2 translations and an essay), and coursework.

I didn't find doing 3 languages/Japanese beginner's too bad. I find learning languages easier than writing essays on things like history so it suited me having more language credits! I wouldn't say I mixed my languages up, but I definitely had/have times where i can remember the word i want in every language but the language i need it in!! And in Dutch I definitely had a tendency to just put a Dutch accent on German words whenever I didn't know the correct Dutch vocab!

I've said things in English and just added a Spanish accent several times when I didn't know the word as well by accident!

I could ramble on but this is already realllly long.....
Thank you for all the information, it's all been extremely useful!
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sophia5892
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(Original post by Tilly_Rose)
Thank you for all the information, it's all been extremely useful!
Contribution in Class:
For Level B (post-A Level) you get a one hour grammar lecture a week with all the students doing that language, and a 2 hour seminar in a group of no more than 15. The seminars tend to be focused on speaking and listening. So you might be asked to do reading and writing exercises as homework/preparation and then you'll discuss these and the answers in class. So contribution could be asking questions, but generally just your willingness to speak and answer questions. And the teachers do give everyone opportunity to talk and try and make sure it's not always the same people chipping in. So it's not too hard.

I think they basically needed to say they were assessing students oral skills, but didn't want to freak everyone out with a speaking exam in first year. Level B is quite focussed on "catch-up". So basically they recognise that everyone will have done different things at A Level and go right back to basics to make sure everyone is where they should be. So grammar lectures start right off with a review of the present tense. And the seminars are largely speaking & Listening focussed as these are usually the skills you get very little chance to practice in school
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