☆ Cambridge MML Applicants - 2019 ☆ Watch

mfarr01
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Hi! I just realised that there isn't a thread for this!! I'm applying to study French and German at Downing College this year anyone else?
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vessel
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Hey! So glad that someone finally made a thread.

I'm applying for French & Spanish at most likely Emmanuel (making sure at the open day on Wednesday!). Downing is so pretty omg.

I'm so nervous about applying haha I'm not sure if I've read enough books tbh... Oh well, how are you preparing for the admissions assessment?
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mfarr01
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(Original post by vessel)
Hey! So glad that someone finally made a thread.

I'm applying for French & Spanish at most likely Emmanuel (making sure at the open day on Wednesday!). Downing is so pretty omg.

I'm so nervous about applying haha I'm not sure if I've read enough books tbh... Oh well, how are you preparing for the admissions assessment?
no ahaahaha i feel like i haven't read enough either!! haha i haven't done much prep yet but i've looked at/had a quick go at the past papers and they don't look that bad i guess! hbu?
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vessel
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(Original post by mfarr01)
no ahaahaha i feel like i haven't read enough either!! haha i haven't done much prep yet but i've looked at/had a quick go at the past papers and they don't look that bad i guess! hbu?
Yeah I've had a look through them, they seem okay it's just the time pressure that's the problem I guess??
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SosbanFach
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Good course choice (not that I'm biased or anything )! I'm a current MML student (French and Spanish), so if you've got any questions about the course, the application process, the colleges or anything else that crosses your mind, I'd be very happy to try and answer them as best I can. Good luck with your applications!
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Accio_Cake
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Yay, glad this thread exists!

I'm applying for French and (ab initio) German at Gonville & Caius. I don't think I'm up to scratch with the extra reading needed either, but hopefully everything will work out okay!

What other unis are you guys applying to?
(Original post by SosbanFach)
Good course choice (not that I'm biased or anything )! I'm a current MML student (French and Spanish), so if you've got any questions about the course, the application process, the colleges or anything else that crosses your mind, I'd be very happy to try and answer them as best I can. Good luck with your applications!
Hi, thanks for offering your help. I wanted to ask about the interview, specifically the portion where you have to speak in the target language. I'd say speaking is my weakest area of French, so I'm quite nervous about it. How long was the discussion and were the questions very complex?
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SosbanFach
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(Original post by Accio_Cake)
Hi, thanks for offering your help. I wanted to ask about the interview, specifically the portion where you have to speak in the target language. I'd say speaking is my weakest area of French, so I'm quite nervous about it. How long was the discussion and were the questions very complex?
Hi, and sorry for the delayed response - it's been a hectic week!
So I can only speak for my personal experience of the interview (and bear in mind that it was three years ago, so my memory's not perfect!) but really, the speaking part is nothing to stress about. It's certainly not as stressful as an A level oral exam! Basically, what I had at Selwyn was a poem, given 10 minutes before the interview. When I went in, after the usual opening pleasantries, I was asked (still in English) if there was any vocab that I didn't know. Incidentally, it's normal for there to be some; chances are, nobody that person has interviewed by the time they got to you knew that 'une hirondelle' was French for a swallow! Asking for help with vocab isn't a bad thing, therefore, and is better than being caught out later.
After that, I think the discussion of the poem went into French. We did that for probably about half the interview, so ten minutes, before going back into English to talk about the points on my personal statement for the second half. Honestly, it was probably the fastest 20 minutes of my life - the interview goes by so quickly! I can't remember exactly how complex the questions were, but I don't remember it seeming unreasonable for A level French standard.

Basically, don't worry about the French speaking part of the interview. It's just to check that you have some competence with the language - you're not expected to be fluent! Also, the interviewers will fully understand that speaking can be terrifying, and that the interview is already a pretty stressful context, so they don't expect perfection. Hope that helps, and let me know if you've got any other questions! Good luck with your application
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Izz Hack
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(Original post by SosbanFach)
Good course choice (not that I'm biased or anything )! I'm a current MML student (French and Spanish), so if you've got any questions about the course, the application process, the colleges or anything else that crosses your mind, I'd be very happy to try and answer them as best I can. Good luck with your applications!
Hi 👋
I'm in Year 12 and looking to apply next year for French and Spanish. My current A Levels are French, Spanish, Maths and Psychology, although I am thinking about dropping Maths to give myself more time to dedicate to the languages. However, as Psychology is not seen as a 'facilitating subject', do you think admissions would be inclined to accept someone else over me who has perhaps a more difficult subject as their third A Level, even if all of my predictions were A*s? I was thinking about doing an EPQ linking psychology and linguistics if I dropped Maths to justify my choice of Psych, which I have much more of a passion for. I am also going to start the Royal Institute programme for maths to teach masterclasses to Year 5 schoolchildren, which I thought would show that I do have academic capability not exclusive to languages. Do you think this would be enough to be considered for a place, obviously regarding how well the interview goes, if I get one?
Thank you so much and congratulations for getting in to Cambridge, it would be my dream!
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SosbanFach
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(Original post by Izz Hack)
Hi 👋
I'm in Year 12 and looking to apply next year for French and Spanish. My current A Levels are French, Spanish, Maths and Psychology, although I am thinking about dropping Maths to give myself more time to dedicate to the languages. However, as Psychology is not seen as a 'facilitating subject', do you think admissions would be inclined to accept someone else over me who has perhaps a more difficult subject as their third A Level, even if all of my predictions were A*s? I was thinking about doing an EPQ linking psychology and linguistics if I dropped Maths to justify my choice of Psych, which I have much more of a passion for. I am also going to start the Royal Institute programme for maths to teach masterclasses to Year 5 schoolchildren, which I thought would show that I do have academic capability not exclusive to languages. Do you think this would be enough to be considered for a place, obviously regarding how well the interview goes, if I get one?
Thank you so much and congratulations for getting in to Cambridge, it would be my dream!
Hi! So first of all, I really wouldn't pay too much heed to the whole 'facilitating subjects' malarkey - it's usually not as important as sixth forms make it out to be. For MML at Cambridge, the only compulsory subject is one language, and you've already got two, so frankly your third choice of A level is rather less important. Choose something you enjoy and you'll have a much better chance of being motivated to do well in it.

For your EPQ suggestion, psycholinguistics is a fascinating subject area and can definitely be linked to MML. However, note that the MML course doesn't actually include a great deal of psycholinguistics, with the exception of one or two Linguistics tripos papers that you can borrow. You'd want to be able to justify in interview (and in your personal statement) why you were applying for MML and not for linguistics. This isn't a problem, and shows a wider interest in the subject, but the first year course in particular is primarily focussed on language and literature, so one to watch out for.

Finally, the maths masterclasses: this is a good thing to do if it interests you, and to some extent demonstrates an engagement with academia more widely, as well as leadership and organisation skills. However, bear in mind that Cambridge actually isn't that interested in your 'academic capability not exclusive to languages'; they're far more interested in evidence of your language and analysis skills. In other words, do these masterclasses, by all means - they sound like a great experience - but don't focus on them to the detriment of your other work. Just simple things like a demonstrated interest in reading critically in your foreign languages will bring more benefit to your application. If you can do all of these at once, though, definitely go for it!
In short, I can't really say whether or not you'd get a place - there are just too many variables, most of which I don't have - but do well in your A levels and show interest outside them and you'll be in with a chance! Good luck
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Izz Hack
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(Original post by SosbanFach)
Hi! So first of all, I really wouldn't pay too much heed to the whole 'facilitating subjects' malarkey - it's usually not as important as sixth forms make it out to be. For MML at Cambridge, the only compulsory subject is one language, and you've already got two, so frankly your third choice of A level is rather less important. Choose something you enjoy and you'll have a much better chance of being motivated to do well in it.

For your EPQ suggestion, psycholinguistics is a fascinating subject area and can definitely be linked to MML. However, note that the MML course doesn't actually include a great deal of psycholinguistics, with the exception of one or two Linguistics tripos papers that you can borrow. You'd want to be able to justify in interview (and in your personal statement) why you were applying for MML and not for linguistics. This isn't a problem, and shows a wider interest in the subject, but the first year course in particular is primarily focussed on language and literature, so one to watch out for.

Finally, the maths masterclasses: this is a good thing to do if it interests you, and to some extent demonstrates an engagement with academia more widely, as well as leadership and organisation skills. However, bear in mind that Cambridge actually isn't that interested in your 'academic capability not exclusive to languages'; they're far more interested in evidence of your language and analysis skills. In other words, do these masterclasses, by all means - they sound like a great experience - but don't focus on them to the detriment of your other work. Just simple things like a demonstrated interest in reading critically in your foreign languages will bring more benefit to your application. If you can do all of these at once, though, definitely go for it!
In short, I can't really say whether or not you'd get a place - there are just too many variables, most of which I don't have - but do well in your A levels and show interest outside them and you'll be in with a chance! Good luck
Thank you so much for your help! I think I'm going to stop maths and then dedicate all of this time to further reading - can't wait to get started! Which authors/films do you like? I'm more into the modern side of things, not really a fan of old films, but more than happy to get stuck into anything and give it a go - any recommendations?
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CasseroleKeith
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I'm currently a first year studying French and ab-initio German at Queens'. More than happy to answer any questions/advise you in any way! Best of luck with your applications. xxx
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SosbanFach
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(Original post by Izz Hack)
Thank you so much for your help! I think I'm going to stop maths and then dedicate all of this time to further reading - can't wait to get started! Which authors/films do you like? I'm more into the modern side of things, not really a fan of old films, but more than happy to get stuck into anything and give it a go - any recommendations?
No problem, hope it was vaguely useful!
If you like modern texts and films, have a look at something like Borges' Ficciones -- it's a fascinating collection of short stories, with great philosophical ideas wittily presented (and a lot of amusing pseudo-academia to make fun of old university professors!). Borges was an Argentine writer, but with strong links to Europe (and Paris in particular), especially in his intellectual style. Also take a look at Bioy Casares' La invención de Morel, which is perhaps slightly easier reading! He was a pal of Borges', also Argentine (I'm quite into Latin American literature, as you might notice...). Luisa Valenzuela (also Argentine - they write well!) wrote Cambio de Armas about the Guerra Sucia, and Mario Vargas Llosa (we're in Peru now, so diversified!) is a fantastic novelist and journalist if you feel like tackling a longer work. That said, his factual (vaguely autobiographical) account, La historia secreta de una novela, is also well worth reading to get an insight into the process of writing.

On that same note, actually, moving over to the French side of things, Nathalie Sarraute's novel Entre la vie et la mort, though fictional, has a similar thematic interest: how can a writer truly know themselves, or observe themselves objectively? How, therefore, can they critique their own work? It is somewhat hard going, though; for something more readable, Samuel Beckett's plays (especially En attendant Godot and Fin de partie) are surprisingly easy to read, if a bit desolate! If you can find the Harrap edition of Godot with the introduction by Colin Duckworth, all the better. Camus is a favourite, of course, but interviewers are pretty sick of hearing about L'Étranger from candidates - everyone's read it! Try something else, like Le mythe de sisyphe (which you can link quite nicely to Beckett as well - making comparisons and contrasts is a great way to show that you've thought critically about the text). For poetry, maybe have a look at Apollinaire's Alcools collection, for example. There are loads of other writers that you could look at, like Sartre, Queneau, Perec, even Beaudelaire and Laclos if you're willing to go back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Just find a few things that interest you and take it from there.

There are loads of options on the films side too. Almodóvar is obviously a key figure of Spanish film, so you could give him a look - Volver might be a good place to start. Anything by Guillermo del Toro (the famous example obviously being El laberinto del fauno), is worth a watch. If you're into horror, El Orfanato and Los ojos de Julia are pretty... well, disturbing, but amazing. One of the first-year course films, También la lluvia, about the water conflicts in Cochabamba, Bolivia, is a great multifaceted work with an interesting mise-en-abîme conceit of a film within a film; it's worth considering the various presentations of neocolonial behaviour and also whether Bollaín herself (the director) falls into any of the traps of her fiction counterpart, Sebastián.

The French were also very into cinema, and the Nouvelle vague (New Wave) of the '50s and '60s was in huge part about making cinema an art form on a par with literature, rather than simply a vehicle to retell existing literary stories (as was the case in the tradition de qualité). I know you said you don't like old films, but I've decided to categorise that as pre-1950s for my own purposes, and so I'd really recommend you have a look at some of Godard's films: try À bout de souffle for a Hollywood-style action film. Truffaut, as well, is a key figure of the movement, so you could have a look at his films: Les 400 coups is a sort of filmic self-portrait of his childhood, for example, and very French! Have a look at the Trois Couleurs series, or Les Intouchables, for some more recent suggestions.

I hope this is vaguely helpful and that some of these (and no, you wouldn't be expected to try and get through all that!) might be interesting. If you want to find some shorter things just to help you get used to reading in the languages, I've recommended a few in this thread here. All the best
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Quirky Object
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Hi, can't believe I hadn't found this yet! I'm applying for French and Russian at Trinity. SosbanFach how much factual information did you need to know for your interview? E.g. if I say I've read A Rebours, for example, how specifically will they expect me to be able to refer to certain chapters and events in the book and aspects of its context? Thanks
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tallulahthe1975
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Hi, really late to the thread but better late than never I suppose! I’m applying for French & Spanish both post A-level at Jesus College and am also stressing about the speaking portion of the interview above all! Particularly in French as I would consider Spanish to be my stronger language & feel a bit more confident speaking.
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tallulahthe1975
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Anyone had an interview for Jesus?
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clem1
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hi! so I just got an interview at Christ's for french and ab initio italian and i'm super excited! I've done all the sample papers that they give you online and I was wondering if anyone knew any other texts I could apply the same questions to and practice with? also any general advice for MML? Thank you!
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Oisha
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Applied to Kings for Spanish and ab initio German. Currently awaiting an update for the interview (anxiety's killing me). I need more stuff to read pm me some reading materials. Any current Kings MML studentso can give me some interview tips. Thanks!!
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vessel
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Around how many books have you guys read for preparation?
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Oisha
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I've read a few short stories and listened to two audio books.
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Gingerooo
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Hi! I've applied for French and ab initio German at Christ's and received an email on Monday saying I will have an interview, but they'll be sending me another email with the dates later this week. I've read some literature in French and in translation in German, and have taught myself some German as well. Since I do the IB, though, everything we've read at school is contemporary (after 1999), so I've been reading a lot more 19th century to early 20th century literature outside of school. I've gone through a few of the past papers, and they don't look too bad (the time pressure is more worrying!). How are you all preparing for your ab initio interviews? SosbanFach how did you prepare for your interviews?
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