I wont be applying to university until 2006.
Still, studying a language is becoming ever appealing. I'm not talking about French or German, something more unique in this country, such as Japanense, Chinese, Arabic or my favourite so far, Italian.
But, I haven't studied a language at AS and my GCSE grade was my lowest GCSE grade. This was due to teacher practically refusing to teach higher tier, and consequently because of the terrible department I was one of few, who actually passed the GCSE, from a massive year group!
I'm not aiming for a top 5 university, have been looking around the Yorkshire universities, which say they may consider people without much education in languages.
What are my chances? Is there anything I can do to improve these?
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Studying a foreign language without any previous knowledge. watch
- Thread Starter
- 31-10-2004 19:25
- 01-11-2004 00:48
See if you can either pick up an AS next year, or read around linguistics/languages like crazy, and try to go to the countries in question a lot. You'll have to ask individual unis whether they'll let you in with GCSE only - though I have seen quite a few if you're doing a combined course and an obscure language.
- 01-11-2004 12:10
Since the languages you want to do are only really taught at university level, the universities won't expect you to have any prior knowledge of them. However, they may want to see some evidence of ability in learning foreign languages. What was your GCSE grade, if you don't mind me asking?
- 02-11-2004 12:27
i think as long as you show a passion for languages and that you are capable of language learning, you will have no problem getting a place at a good uni. however, an a level will probably give you the most chance. if you are unhappy with the way your school teaches it, consider taking an evening class or taking a gap year and doing an a level at a different college while working or something. alternatively, you could travel and learn a lot of the language that way, for example there are companies which organise language courses abroad. When i was applying, most unis that offered begginners specified that you needed at least one other language at a level, not sure if this has changed. like another reply said, if you do an uncommon language you may not need any previous knowledge at all. i know someone who got on a course at a good uni thorugh clearing, it was business and chinese i think. she had no intention of ever learning chinese when she first applied but she loves it. i know someone else who studied french to a level and now does french with begginners' arabic at uni, and although it is rewarding, she says it is a lot of hard work.
i think you should research different unis and ask what their policy is, and if they say you dont need a qualification, then learn a bit independently, firstly so it will look like you really are keen in your application, and secondly so that you aren't completely lost when you start. if you do need a qualification and really want to do this degree, it really is worth taking a gap year and getting it.
- 02-11-2004 14:47
If I were you, I'd do some research, and pick the country and culture that interests me most, from the list you've outlined above. Then do a lot of research into that culture (e.g. Japan, or the Arabic world).
If you've got linguistic skills (e.g. you can do well in A-level or AS level), and an interest, I cant see them turning away keen applicants.
Make sure its what you want to do, thouhg. There's no point learning tribal african languages if you've no intention whatsoever of spending any length of time in africa
- 02-11-2004 16:56
Well, I can help you with information on East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean--particularly Japanese --as I've done a lot of research in the area for myself; I'm currently applying for various single-honours Japanese courses, 2005 entry. Unfortunately I can't offer much of an insight into the other languages you've mentioned, but I'm sure someone else will know more .
The good news is that more unusual languages like these are usually taught ab initio, and therefore do not require you to have previous experience of the language. Also, for these, it is not usually specified that a language must be studied at AS, although they will often state that this is 'preferred'. Therefore your lack of a language A-Level needn't necessarily present a problem.
As for GCSEs...it's a bit awkward to say; from my research for Japanese studies, looking at the course information in the prospectuses and websites, I found no reference to minimum GCSE grades. However, when I was recently at a SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) open day, the Japanese admissions tutor indicated that if you have no AS language you should have at least an A at GCSE. This wasn't absolutley rigid, and they may overlook this if you are a particularly good candidate in other areas, but it provides a general guideline. I'm afraid I don't know if this applies at other universities, but I hope not because this is an issue for me too! I don't do a language at A-Level and my GCSE French was grade B . (I will keep you updated on my universties' reponses, if you'd like.). When you come to apply, though, it might be worth contacting admissions tutors directly to consult them about your case—if they won’t even look at applications lacking certain language qualifications (but perhaps haven’t stated this explicitly in their information) there’s no point wasting a choice.
So, if you do have an opportunity to improve your GCSE grade and feel you can do so without negatively affecting your current studies, it might be a good idea, simply because it gives you 'evidence' of your ability to learn a language. Or perhaps you could pick up an AS in a language, in which case admissions tutors would be less concerned with your language GCSE grade.
Aside from the issue of language qualifications, the best thing you can do to improve your chances is to show enthusiasm for and dedication to the subject--show that your desire to study that particular language and culture is based on a real passion, rational reasoning, and that you know what to expect. This is what all sources seem to stress that admissions tutors are looking for, especially for languages you won't have studied before. Afterall, commiting yourself to a 4 year degree in something you haven't got previous experience of is risky! Prove you know what you're letting yourself in for . For example, I did an OCN certificate in Japanese language through adult evening classes, which as well as partly addressing the lack of language qualification, also means I've had a foretaste of studying Japanese and am still sure about my course choice. Also shows I didn't choose an exotic language on a whim!
It’s also advisable read a book or two about the society, if possible. See if they have any recommended reading lists for undergraduates or prospective students. I’ve been told at various open days that you shouldn’t, if you are applying to, for example, a Chinese Studies degree, over-emphasise the language component of the course, but also express interest in the society; reading in the area is excellent for covering this. Hopefully, it’s also interesting!
Aside from that…just do all the normal things that make an application look good! Impressive grades, a range of extra-curricula activities, enthusiasm, and showing yourself to be a good, academic student draw attention away from what you don’t have—and if you’re good enough in other areas it may override language qualification issues.
The information above is pretty general, but if you have any further, or more specific, questions feel free to PM me . In particular, I’ve done quite a lot of research into the universities for these subjects and joint-languages, and I've gathered quite a bit of information from these universities (Sheffield and Leeds especially), and I'd be happy to help with whatever I can *waves East Asia banner* .
But I think I’ve blathered in this post for long enough….:P