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Modern languages; Oxford or Cambridge and why?

The title pretty much sums up the idea of this post.

Sorry if this topic has been done to death.
Reply 1
As I understand it both courses are very literature based - certainly the Oxford one is - and I don't really think you can achieve fluency from that, especially seeing as the year abroad is optional.
Reply 2
I thought the year abroad was compulsory at Cambridge. I chose Cambridge because there are options in literature and linguistics (as opposed to just literature) plus Cambridge is closer to home (and even that's a five hour car journey!).
Reply 3
Might just be the Oxford course I'm thinking of then :dontknow:
Reply 4
Is it really optional, though?:confused: I don't think I've met a single modern languages person who didn't take a year abroad...
well i have a friend who orginally went to oxford to do german language, but she said she found the course really old fashioned and dry so she left after about a few months, i think it depends what aspects of language you are hoping to study and clearly there are reasons she found oxfords course quite old-fashioned but everyone is different.
Reply 6
I've heard the Oxford languages course described as 'Literature with a bit of language'. :p:
Reply 7
Oxford, 'cos it's cooler :p:

Joking apart, both have very well respected language courses. The self-teaching facilities in the language centre here are quite incredible, though; I have a friend studying English who didn't know a jot of French before starting... she's almost fluent now!
Reply 8
I have a friend studying English who didn't know a jot of French before starting... she's almost fluent now!

I highly doubt that fluency is possible in such a short time from sitting at a computer and not actually visiting the country, but yeah...I don't doubt the facilities are good though. Where are they actually located? And how much does it cost to use them?
I would have gone to Cambridge, has I applied. The course looks more appealing, because I'm not so keen on the literature. However, Oxford is the prettier City.
I highly doubt that fluency is possible in such a short time from sitting at a computer and not actually visiting the country, but yeah...I don't doubt the facilities are good though. Where are they actually located? And how much does it cost to use them?

Ah, you must believe! (Of course, she's failing her degree due to the amount of time she's spending in the language library, but that's beside the point :p:)

The self-taught courses are all housed in a special language library/centre on Woodstock Road, near the centre of town. They also offer a number of taught classes (usually 2/3 sessions a week) but you have to pay for those unless you're on a related course. The self-taught ones are free, but as is common with many Oxford libraries, you can't check them out :frown:
Reply 11
Hmmm, I wonder if I could blag my way in for free on the basis that Linguistics is a 'related course' :wink:
It's worth a try. I know someone on the Law with Legal Studies in Europe course who talked his way onto the French program. Which is fine, except he's going to Holland :p:
I chose Cambridge because I was told by a friend who went on a Shadowing scheme at Oxford that the Oxford course was very very heavy on literature and there was very little speaking and actual use of the language. My languages teacher also said that I'd hate the course at Oxford as it was too old fashioned.

Well really, I didn't choose Cambridge because I disliked the Oxford course, I just ruled out Oxford and then came across Cambridge, which was so different. It just seems like a more modern and flexible course, and I like the option to do linguistics.

As far as I know, the year abroad at Cam is compulsory...
Reply 14
The year abroad is compulsory, and it is absolutely not the case that the MML course is very literature based. You can do no literature if you want, and take linguistics for both languages in Part 1A, and next year there are a vast range of scheduled papers to choose from. Also, I can assure you, we do a hell of a lot of language work, much more than the linguists I know at many other universities. The MML course (cambridge) is brilliant, I strongly recommend it.
Reply 15
Thanks for the responses, guys! Very, VERY helpful indeed. I actually found a very detailed description of the MML course at Cambridge online and I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE! No other course I have looked at can compare. At all. The course looks simply WONDERFUL! Not to mention - the thought of having to drop Latin after A2 breaks my heart because I'm a nerd and love the subject - but it says on the MML prospectus that you can do NEO-LATIN as part of your Modern Languages course! How COOL is that?! It's the closest I'll get to keeping up my Latin - I know it's not the same as Classical Latin but I'm sure it'll be interesting nonetheless.

I can't imagine myself anywhere else! Also, I went to Cambridge a couple of weeks ago for this day of lectures sort thing about doing Modern Languages at Uni, and I fell in love with the place. No clubs - yes, but lots of bars and pubs which is more me. Plus, the guys there were HOT! :biggrin:

I've decided I REALLY don't like the look of the Oxford course - I've heard from a LOT of people it's practically ALL literature.

If only I actually had the ability to get into Cambridge... :frown:

I know there's no harm in trying and all, but I HONESTLY don't believe I have a hope in hell of getting in.

Hehe you sound just like me-I fell in love with the course too! Hopefully your passion will come through if you do apply and have an interview :smile:

Sounds just like me as well! I didn't think I had a hope of getting in either, but I think I was so excited about the course that I smiled and was really enthusiastic all the way through my interview and that might have got me in. Just give it a go, you could be pleasantly surprised!
Reply 18
Yep, give it a go! No one ever thinks that they're going to get in, but obviously people do! And you evidently have bucket-loads of passion for languages and for the Cambridge course, which is really important.
Reply 19
The year abroad at Oxford isn't officially compulsory, but everyone goes. It's been assumed all year that I'm going to have one. And anyway, whether or not it's compulsory is pretty irrelevant, because the only people who don't go are the ones who didn't want to anyway, so it makes no difference to anyone who does want the year abroad. It is quite literary, although my perception is skewed by doing an ab initio language. Half of my papers this year are language papers though, so it's not as if you'll be doing only literature. In FHS I can do things like European Cinema, Catalan, some weird history type paper, linguistics and some other stuff. French and German have wider options. The main content is literature, there's no getting away from that, but you can do other stuff around it. And you get oral classes in the FHS. As it is I have two translation classes and one grammar class with a native. I would have double that if I did two post A level classes but Russian is basically all grammar at this point. There are no oral classes in the first year for Spanish, but French (and probably German) does them. They used to do classes for Spanish but no-one really went to them, so take from that what you will.

I'm not sure that I'd agree that the course is old fashioned. My Spanish has definitely improved. One of the set texts is less than ten years old, and two of the others are modern era, so it's not all old texts. And then if you do the old texts you learn some of the history as well anyway (like with the medieval ballads). If you don't like literature you won't like Oxford, but you're going to have content in the language and it may as well be great literature. The degree is about more than simply learning to speak the language, you can work on that during the year abroad or on holidays in the summer far better than at either uni.

And I know you've already picked, but other people will read this.