I study modern languages at Oxford University AMA Watch

Espançais
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As it is getting towards MLATs and interviews etc. and a few people have asked me stuff, I thought I'd do a thread to try to help people thinking about languages at uni and more specifically Oxford, whether that's questions about the application process or wondering about the course itself.
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beret
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Would it be best to have some idea of the whole of the course. Specifically, I've talked about literature and broader cultural things on my PS, but the German degree seems to involve a bit of philosophy and political theory too. That's great and really interests me, but I haven't done a great deal of research on it. Would that be a red flag, say at an interview?

(Original post by Espançais)
As it is getting towards MLATs and interviews etc. and a few people have asked me stuff, I thought I'd do a thread to try to help people thinking about languages at uni and more specifically Oxford, whether that's questions about the application process or wondering about the course itself
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(Original post by beret)
Would it be best to have some idea of the whole of the course. Specifically, I've talked about literature and broader cultural things on my PS, but the German degree seems to involve a bit of philosophy and political theory too. That's great and really interests me, but I haven't done a great deal of research on it. Would that be a red flag, say at an interview?
I don't think so necessarily, as long as you know about and can discuss the literature that you have read. The first book we study in French is a philosophical essay and I knew absolutely nothing about philosophy beforehand. That said, if it's something that interests you it's definitely worth doing some reading around it, even in translation. They are unlikely to ask "what do you know about German philosophy" directly, but in mine they did more open questions which I could answer in whichever way I liked, but they then went into more detail about the play I mentioned in my first answer. So basically if you want to try it, you can probably use it in the interview but it's not essential
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bad bunny
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what a level advice do you have for a level languages? what did you do differently to other people during your a level studies to get better grades and eventually become at an ‘oxford level’?
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Aurorae
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Hi! I’m thinking of applying next year and I was wondering if the MLAT contain any specific grammar I should be looking into now that I won’t have learnt by the end of Year 12? Thank you!!
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Pikamo89
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Why study MFL may I ask? What are the career prospects because I can’t really see any except for translator
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Pikamo89
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Not tryna put shade to anyone studying them
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(Original post by Pikamo89)
Why study MFL may I ask? What are the career prospects because I can’t really see any except for translator
People who want to go into foreign relations, teach a language, translate, tourism, journalism- The list goes on! It’s a super versatile subject.
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(Original post by bad bunny)
what a level advice do you have for a level languages? what did you do differently to other people during your a level studies to get better grades and eventually become at an ‘oxford level’?
At A level I would say understanding the grammar is key. If your teacher is a bit confusing (like mine) try languages online or studyspanish.com. Apart from that, I would say what got me to "Oxford level" was probably reading lots outside of the syllabus (and actually reading the class book!) - I found short stories with a side along translation very useful and satisfying to finish, and I also tried to keep up with the news headlines in English, French and Spanish. If you make notes of the vocab, whack it into quizlet and learn it, it really helps with translation for grades and also gives you stuff to talk about at interview
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PastelColours
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Oxford Mum can help give advice along with the OP, I think her oldest son studied German at Oxford!
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(Original post by PastelColours)
Oxford Mum can help give advice along with the OP, I think her oldest son studied German at Oxford!
Pretty sure this is OP's AMA...
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(Original post by Aurorae)
Hi! I’m thinking of applying next year and I was wondering if the MLAT contain any specific grammar I should be looking into now that I won’t have learnt by the end of Year 12? Thank you!!
Depends on what language you're doing, and also how your teacher goes about teaching you this stuff. I was in a very mixed ability class in yr12, so I wasn't taught anywhere near as much as my peers at elite private schools with only two or three in a class. For French, I learnt a lot of verbs with prepositions; for both French and Spanish I taught myself the subjunctive mood and where to use it. Probably the best idea is to have a look at the past papers for your language (you can find them online if you google) and trying to identify which bits of grammar they seem to be testing (not always easy!). Also you might want to wait until the end of year 12 before you start teaching yourself grammar stuff, because it will make a lot more sense with yr12 for a foundation.
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(Original post by Espançais)
At A level I would say understanding the grammar is key. If your teacher is a bit confusing (like mine) try languages online or studyspanish.com. Apart from that, I would say what got me to "Oxford level" was probably reading lots outside of the syllabus (and actually reading the class book!) - I found short stories with a side along translation very useful and satisfying to finish, and I also tried to keep up with the news headlines in English, French and Spanish. If you make notes of the vocab, whack it into quizlet and learn it, it really helps with translation for grades and also gives you stuff to talk about at interview
PRSOM +++
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(Original post by Quick-use)
Pretty sure this is OP's AMA...
I don't mind lol, I think Oxford Mum has quite a lot of questions to answer anyway though. Feel free to add though if you have something german-specific @Oxfordmum
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(Original post by Pikamo89)
Why study MFL may I ask? What are the career prospects because I can’t really see any except for translator
Translation does seem the obvious one, along with teaching (and they are in demand); but also interpreting, journalism, NGOs, banking, anything which needs transferable communication and writing skills, forensic linguistics if you do languages and linguistics, just about any job but in a lot more countries
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(Original post by Pikamo89)
Why study MFL may I ask? What are the career prospects because I can’t really see any except for translator
You can have a look at the following thread, particularly my responses: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6024714
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username4982256
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Hello,
I am currently a GCSE student ( a bit young, I know) and I study French. I would absolutely love to study languages at Oxford, but I'm worried that my chances may be lower due to coming from a.... lower background? (I don't know how to put it). I know that grades are important for Oxford, but is there anything that I could possibly do to improve my chances? And also, what else could I possible study in accordance with French (open to all suggestions, as I am unsure of any future careers).

Thank you very much,
Shining Stars (or Roses & Dreams).
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Oxford Mum
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I believe OP studies MFL at Oxford (is this Spanish, by the way?) There are precious few Oxford students who have time or the inclination to post on TSR, so anything you can say on here is definitely appreciated.


My son studied German and has written a chapter for my book about how he prepared for the MLAT and the interview etc

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6100480
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(Original post by Shining Stars)
Hello,
I am currently a GCSE student ( a bit young, I know) and I study French. I would absolutely love to study languages at Oxford, but I'm worried that my chances may be lower due to coming from a.... lower background? (I don't know how to put it). I know that grades are important for Oxford, but is there anything that I could possibly do to improve my chances? And also, what else could I possible study in accordance with French (open to all suggestions, as I am unsure of any future careers).

Thank you very much,
Shining Stars (or Roses & Dreams).
That's amazing that you're thinking about it so early. Please don't worry about your background too much, I know it feels like everyone else goes to some super posh school with amazing language provision but you don't have to. (I went to state school). You can do French sole, or you could consider English or linguistics if that attracts you. If you can't get another language at GCSE/ A level, there is always the option of doing a beginner language - Russian, Spanish, anything really. At GCSE level I would mainly focus on your grades and also having fun outside of school, but if you're keen to get going on some super-curricular stuff then try the newsinslowfrench site, it's slower so a bit easier to follow. And try watching French films (Les Choristes or Etre et Avoir if you like feel good, Caché if you're over 15 and into psychological thrillers) and then if one takes your interest maybe find out more about where it's set, the topic and so on. You could also try some literature in translation if you like, but I would wait until you've got a bit further in your language studies before you start tackling full on French novels aha
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
I believe OP studies MFL at Oxford (is this Spanish, by the way?) There are precious few Oxford students who have time or the inclination to post on TSR, so anything you can say on here is definitely appreciated.


My son studied German and has written a chapter for my book about how he prepared for the MLAT and the interview etc

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6100480
Thanks! I do French and Spanish; I was very lucky to have people on the course talk to me when I was thinking about applying and I want to pass it on to the next generation. Plus I don't have an essay due in on Monday (whoop whoop!) so I have a little bit of time this weekend (although I should really be looking at some translations...)
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