Cambridge Demystified - French and German/ Modern and Medieval Languages

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redmeercat
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Why did you want to study your subject?
French has always been my favourite subject, since primary school, and after reading Bakhita by Veronique Olmi and doing work experience as an Au Pair I realised the extent to which I loved it and wanted to study the literature and culture, but also the philosophy, history and other topics.
I studied German pre-GCSE but couldn't take 2 language on, and then as an Au Pair I was living in an area with a lot of franco-German families. I found it so itneresting trying to work out what people were saying with my limited German knowledge, and (with my enjoyment of studying German history as part of A level history) again just wanted to know more. I also thought it would be useful to have a non-Romance langage as my second language in order to help me if I ever wanted to learn a different type of language myself.
Why Cambridge?
The Cambridge languages course covers so many aspects of the cultures which surround the language. On the year abroud there are also different options which can be taken as the year abroad project, as well the course as a whole having a lot of room to make decisions based on your own interests as you progress through the 4 years. I also heard that they had good Dyslexia support which is important for me!

Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)
I never considered that someone like me could go to Oxbridge until I watched PaigeY and Eve Bennet on youtube - they made Oxbridge into a reality rather than mystical, unrealistic and unattainable places.

Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
For my personal statement I read Bakhita by Veronique Olmi which I found to be a fascinating study of language and identity and internal vs external freedom... this was my favourite of the written resources I used! I also read La Fille de Papier by Musso, Grimms' fairytales in English, compared the French translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with the English version, and discussed The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.
In terms of other resources, I used my Au Pairing work experience, I watched La Famille Belier and discussed the process of tutoring French to younger students and the process of intralingually translating complex board game instructions in French to children.
To research Cambridge I mainly used UCAS, TSR and the prospectus with a few youtube videos! I found the TSR list of the benefits and disadvantages of each college particularly helpful!

Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?
I went to the Cambridge Modern Languages Masterclass days which were really good - they really helped me to understand what being in a Cambridge lecture would be like if I got in as well as introducing different topics from the Tripos.

Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?
I did work experience as a private Au Pair (meaning that I found my post through connections rather than through an agency) and spent 5 weeks helping to look after children in France. It was incredibly rewarding but also incredibly taxing, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about applying to do a language at uni - you learn so much more day-to-day language than you do as a tourist, and have the benefit of being able to stay in the country for longer and likely only paying for flights and personal purchases (although I'm not sure how Brexit might change this)

Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?
I did my EPQ on whether literature was translatable or whether it was too subjective, and I used this as the overall theme for my personal statement, discussing how each component changed my perspective on the process of using and learning language.

Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?
MML has an at-intervew assessment. I did a couple of practice papers to work out my timings, and looked at the markscheme to find out what they were looking for. In the exam, I was very strict about timings as the 2 questions can be really interesting and difficult to talk about, meaning that it's very tempting to go over! When reading the extract I made sure to write on how it made me feel as I went along, as well as picking up on language, structure and form techniques!

How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?
I chose my college very superficially - because it was old and really small! I used the TSR thread I previously mentioned to find it.

How did you find the interview process?
My first interview was really enjoyable. Although I didn't think I'd got in, I just decided to try to enjoy the process and to make sure that I showed my thought process. We covered a few different elements within the interview, rather than everything being on a more limited range of topics such as in my second interview! However, there was a 6 hour gap between my two interviews which was exhausting as I was trying to re-read my German texts whilst trying to control my nerves and socialising... within that interview, I thus made a lot of silly mistakes, such as forgetting how to say 'France' (in English!) and falling over on my way in. I was utterly convinced after that interview that I hadn't got in, especially as I never got anywhere near the answer my interviewer was looking for! In retrospect, however, it's clear that that question wasn't necessarily looking for an answer, mainly just looking for how I approched a question that I couldn't begin to answer! Other than grammatical questions, I think MML interviews are largely just looking for the ability to think about a text or a theme which is often out of context.

Any interview tips?
Try to describe how any text makes you feel, whether it's in English or another language. Explain your thought process and don't be afraid to suggest an unsual idea.
Don't be afraid to ask if you don't know the vocab you need to answer a specific question such as a translation or a discussion question - as long as you try to think what it might be first and have a go, asking for what you don't know isn't a problem!
Have fun and don't think about any pressure you or others might be putting on - it's an opportunity to talk to academics about a subject you're passionate about. If you're having fun, you'll also relax more and will likely perform better
DO PRACTICE INTERVIEWS WITH ANYONE WHO HAS ANY IDEA WHAT THEY'RE LIKE - GETTING USED TO SAYIUNG YOUR THORUGHTS OUT-LOUD IS KEY!

Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?
At Cambrdige you usually only have an itnerview day, however MMLers often have 2 days due to staying overnight between the assessment day and interview day. I went to a college quiz and ate with other people, but otherwise spent most time preparing on my own (other than a quick game of pool!)
How did you feel after the interviews?
Good after the first, hopeless and exhausted after the second, even though both were so much fun and really interesting!

Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?
I was in my English lesson. When I get excited or nervous my dyslexia becomes a lot more difficult to get passed meaning that I couldn't read the email and only knew once my friend told me that I got in! A couple of the English teachers cried and the I called my mum. On the flip side, it was difficult not to act really happy and over-excited around people and friends who ahdn't got in.

Are you looking forward to coming up to Cambridge?
So much, if I get the grades! I know it will be a lot of work, but I love languages and I love to be busy, but that works for me
Last edited by redmeercat; 8 months ago
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Oxford Mum
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Thank you redmeercat for a lovely, informative chapter! Being a French graduate myself and having a son who graduated from Oxford with a German degree, I am particularly interested.

So, a few questions here.

MML Cambridge web page:

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....eval-languages

I would be interested to know how the MML languages course at Cambridge differs from that at Oxford. At Oxford you can take a degree in just one language. I gather this is not the case at Cambridge?

The Oxford languages degree is over 80% literature, but I note you study history. Do you know which period of history? Do you also get the chance to study art or culture? At Oxford, you have to study film for German sole. You can also take this option later on if wish.

What are the different topics from the tripos?

And the year abroad project? What does it consist of? I don't think my son had to do that. Some people probably worked on their thesis.

Glad you had some time abroad to perfect your French. I would always support doing that where you can. Any student who wishes to go abroad could look at Erasmus

https://www.iso.admin.cam.ac.uk/erasmus-plus

Brexit

https://www.eu.admin.cam.ac.uk/

I also am very interested in translation, and I consider a great translation to be like a beautiful work of art. A bad translation can be pretty cringeworthy and can get in the way of our reading enjoyment!

I have heard that the entrance exam for Cambridge MML is different from the Oxford one. For the Oxford MLAT you have to look at word order, translate questions from English to the target language and vice versa and look at certain grammar points. It is, to be exact, a grammar test. The last time I looked at a Cambridge MML test, it was a passage in English and you had to answer questions about it in the target language. Is this still the case?

I am very interested to hear about the assistance you get for dyslexia. How do they help? (this might encourage people to apply, if they know Cambridge are empathetic to your circumstances)

When you were looking for a Cambridge college, do you mean this TSR thread (Cambridge college pros and cons)

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wik..._Pros_and_Cons

You could, alternatively, spend lockdown looking at a few Cambridge college youtubes, narrow it down to three, then try to visit them. Please phone the porters in advance to make sure you can gain access to the college.
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Oxford Mum
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Other resource:

Cambridge French and German interview questions:

https://www.cambridgeinterviewquesti...val-languages/
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Oxford Mum
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You also said the magic words:

I never considered that someone like me could go to Oxbridge until

A lot of people think this, and then an inspirational teacher comes along, or a youtube vlogger, or a chance reading of an interesting article...

It's always worth having a go, if you have the smarts and the capacity for hard work. You are testament to that fact, OP!
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redmeercat
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Thank you redmeercat for a lovely, informative chapter! Being a French graduate myself and having a son who graduated from Oxford with a German degree, I am particularly interested.

So, a few questions here.

MML Cambridge web page:

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....eval-languages

I would be interested to know how the MML languages course at Cambridge differs from that at Oxford. At Oxford you can take a degree in just one language. I gather this is not the case at Cambridge?

The Oxford languages degree is over 80% literature, but I note you study history. Do you know which period of history? Do you also get the chance to study art or culture? At Oxford, you have to study film for German sole. You can also take this option later on if wish.

What are the different topics from the tripos?

And the year abroad project? What does it consist of? I don't think my son had to do that. Some people probably worked on their thesis.

Glad you had some time abroad to perfect your French. I would always support doing that where you can. Any student who wishes to go abroad could look at Erasmus

https://www.iso.admin.cam.ac.uk/erasmus-plus

Brexit

https://www.eu.admin.cam.ac.uk/

I also am very interested in translation, and I consider a great translation to be like a beautiful work of art. A bad translation can be pretty cringeworthy and can get in the way of our reading enjoyment!

I have heard that the entrance exam for Cambridge MML is different from the Oxford one. For the Oxford MLAT you have to look at word order, translate questions from English to the target language and vice versa and look at certain grammar points. It is, to be exact, a grammar test. The last time I looked at a Cambridge MML test, it was a passage in English and you had to answer questions about it in the target language. Is this still the case?

I am very interested to hear about the assistance you get for dyslexia. How do they help? (this might encourage people to apply, if they know Cambridge are empathetic to your circumstances)

When you were looking for a Cambridge college, do you mean this TSR thread (Cambridge college pros and cons)

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wik..._Pros_and_Cons

You could, alternatively, spend lockdown looking at a few Cambridge college youtubes, narrow it down to three, then try to visit them. Please phone the porters in advance to make sure you can gain access to the college.
Yes, at Cambridge everyone takes 2 main languages, one of which may be ab-initio (meaning that you start from the beginning and improve from there) or you could do 2 A levels post A Level or from a high level of fluency, although i believe that you have to have some proof of your level, rather than just telling them that you spoke x language when you were younger and consequently have a high level. (Although this may not be correct). In second and fourth years there may also be the opportunity to study modules in other languages, which may include languages such as Dutch and Polish (but again, this changes from year to year, so anyone interested should remember that a language available one year may not be the next). Having struggled with essay-based subjects previously, this was perfect for me as it let me pick up another language where I wasn't able to at GCSE or A level. Prospective students should know that French and Latin aren't available ab initio, but that other languages available in the course may be studied from beginner level.

As part of the MML degree at Cambridge, we study language, linguistics, art/ literature/ film, philosophy and history, which is reflected in the reading list which currently includes works from Rousseau as well as the film Cleo 5 a 7 and the tragic play Horace (my favourite I've read so far!). In first year, language papers are sat with a paper on introductory literature, film, thought and linguistics. As you move into the higher years and particularly in higher years, students are free to choose from a massively wide variety of topics, as well as the potential to study both languages all the way through or to specialise in just one later on. The flexibility of the degree makes it brilliant for people who love the language and culture in general, and want to explore a variety of aspects before specialising on their specific interests! In regards to the breadth of the degree, the 'Modern and Medieval' element does not only relate to the languages on offer such as Latin and Greek - we study culture from the medieval period up to modern day!

Examples of current reading lists for French and German:
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/fr1 - French
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/ge1 - German
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/ge2 - German

List of part II (fourth year) papers:
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/mml/ii

In terms of the year abroad project, it's very open and can be tailored to a student's interests. There are a variety of options available - a translation project with a 4000 word translator's note, a linguistics project with a 4000 word morpheme-by-morpheme explanation, or an 8000 word dissertation. 4 hours of supervision (teaching) time is given to the project currently.

Fairly soon after I got my Cambridge offer, the college contacted me directly to ask for a copy of my diagnostic report, as did the SEN department who also sent a survey where I could put any support that would be helpful such as doing exams on a word processor or using different-coloured paper. Even before the admissions assessment I was easily able to request the same support as I recieve for usual exams (word processor and 25% extra reading/writing time) which was added. Considering other needs, people who need ground-floor rooms, an en-suite, study skills support or wheelchair access can notify th euniversity and their college of this through the same means, as well the the accomodation forms (for my college at least) having space for any medical needs to be noted. Overall, I've felt that the dyslexia support has be vary efficient and not patronising in the slightest. It is also confidential and you're made aware of how your data will be treated, and to the permissions that are required in order to ensure that you get extra time and other help. I'd advise anyone with dyslexia, dyspraxia or etc who's considering applying to Cambridge for MML just to own your needs - it's very easy to think that you can get by very easily without xxx support, but when it's offered there's no shame in accepting, even at somewhere as academic at Cambridge! I brought up my dyslexia in relation to one of my interview questions and my interviews seemed genuinely interested in how it altered my perspective on the world and my perspective on language - if you're academically good enough for Cambridge, you're academically good enough for Cambridge, with or without additional challenges

Yes, translation is beautiful... I'm always disappointed when subtitles in particular just miss the point - the subtitles for Anne with an E on Netflix weren't my favourite particularly because of the mis-use of Tu and Vous - when has a 5 year old ever casually adressed another 5 year old as Vous? I was also surprised that they chose to translate prayers using 'vous' as usually God is addressed as Tu, although I can't say that this isn't a recent development, and so hesitate to criticise before I've done more research!

You're right about the admissions test - you're given a text in English which you must then discuss in 2 questions. The first question is written in your target language, and the second is written in English. You car answer these in whichever order you like, and should practice using exemplar and past papers: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....sment_2016.pdf. The first question should take 2/3 of your time, is written in a language that you intend to study, and focuses on your understanding and reaction to the given text. The second is written in English and should take the remainder of your time, and is very similar to an English Literature question, although you're not penalised for not knowing specific literary terminology, i.e if you didn't know that the following: 'The hunter was like a panther' was a similie, you would still get points for saying that the phrase makes the hunter sound like a predator, even if you didn't call it a similie. The mark scheme can be found and the bottom of the document of past papers.

That's the thread, thank you!

Are you interested in intralingual and intersemiotic translation as well as interlingual? I find intralingual translation specifically relevant to the study of interlingual translation, aprticularly considering the adaption of texts to suit different cultures which speak the same language, or else adapting a text to suit children!
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redmeercat
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Other helpful resources for improving French (suggestions given for sixthformers, younger students may want to check age ratings for some films etc):

Podcasts/ Audio resources
Native level
- Les Grosses Tetes podcast (comedy gameshow type thing, very fast but you can learn some cool new words!)
- Le Debrief de Mattieu Noel (news-based)
- Music on youtube and other music apps (artists to start with if you don't know any: Edith Piaf, Zaz, Joe Dassin, BB Brunes, Louane)
Learner level
- Coffee break French
- Journal en Francais Facile
- Audio Lingua podcasts - A1, A2, B1, B2 etc (A1 = beginner, C2 = Completely Fluent)
- LyricsTraining app beginner level (listen and fill in the blanks to French song lyrics)
Reading
- Le Monde (news app like the Times or the BBC, some longer articles are only available to subscribers)
- La Fille de Papier, Guillaume Musso (teen novel)
- No et Moi, Delphine de Vigan (teen novel)
- Un Sac de Billes, Joseph Joffo (novel)
- Bakhita, Veronique Olmi (novel - long)
- Classique et Patrimoine, Extrait choisis Magnard (a series of books that French pupils often use to study long classic novels such as Les Miserables) https://www.google.com/search?q=Clas...w=1536&bih=722
For those who want to compare translations with English versions
- Harry Potter et L'Ecole des Sorciers (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
- Raison et Sentiment (Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen)
- La Bible
Audiovisual
- La Famille Belier (feel-good film about family, music and language)
- Seraphine (film about art, self-improvement and working hard)
- Amelie (Film about a young and slightly eccentric girl in Paris)
- Les Choristes (Story of a choir in a school for boys in France)
- La Haine (story of marginalised youth in Paris, the riots of the 1990s, racism, hopelessness and fighting for change)
- French/ Franglais youtube channels such as Paul Taylor, Montreaux comedy, La Fondation 30 Million d'Amis
- TV5Monde (TV channel with French learning resources)
Experiences
- Au Pairing - under 18s can only do this with personal contacts such as family friends, in which case it is more informal. Over 18s can use agencies or websites such as AuPairworld.com.
- School exchanges
- HelloTalk and Tandem apps (talk with native speakers in French and correct their English in return. As always, ensure that you remai safe online )
Grammar
- Lawless French (website, Spanish version available)
- Hemingway Complete French Grammar (book)
- other grammar books/ websites
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Mona123456
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I really enjoyed reading this chapter, and wow, all the resources listed look fantastic, I’m sure they’ll be incredibly helpful for prospective applicants considering the course! Your interview tips and great and your EPQ topic sounds fascinating! Best of luck with everything
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(Original post by redmeercat)
Yes, at Cambridge everyone takes 2 main languages, one of which may be ab-initio (meaning that you start from the beginning and improve from there) or you could do 2 A levels post A Level or from a high level of fluency, although i believe that you have to have some proof of your level, rather than just telling them that you spoke x language when you were younger and consequently have a high level. (Although this may not be correct). In second and fourth years there may also be the opportunity to study modules in other languages, which may include languages such as Dutch and Polish (but again, this changes from year to year, so anyone interested should remember that a language available one year may not be the next). Having struggled with essay-based subjects previously, this was perfect for me as it let me pick up another language where I wasn't able to at GCSE or A level. Prospective students should know that French and Latin aren't available ab initio, but that other languages available in the course may be studied from beginner level.

As part of the MML degree at Cambridge, we study language, linguistics, art/ literature/ film, philosophy and history, which is reflected in the reading list which currently includes works from Rousseau as well as the film Cleo 5 a 7 and the tragic play Horace (my favourite I've read so far!). In first year, language papers are sat with a paper on introductory literature, film, thought and linguistics. As you move into the higher years and particularly in higher years, students are free to choose from a massively wide variety of topics, as well as the potential to study both languages all the way through or to specialise in just one later on. The flexibility of the degree makes it brilliant for people who love the language and culture in general, and want to explore a variety of aspects before specialising on their specific interests! In regards to the breadth of the degree, the 'Modern and Medieval' element does not only relate to the languages on offer such as Latin and Greek - we study culture from the medieval period up to modern day!

Examples of current reading lists for French and German:
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/fr1 - French
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/ge1 - German
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/ge2 - German

List of part II (fourth year) papers:
https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/mml/ii

In terms of the year abroad project, it's very open and can be tailored to a student's interests. There are a variety of options available - a translation project with a 4000 word translator's note, a linguistics project with a 4000 word morpheme-by-morpheme explanation, or an 8000 word dissertation. 4 hours of supervision (teaching) time is given to the project currently.

Fairly soon after I got my Cambridge offer, the college contacted me directly to ask for a copy of my diagnostic report, as did the SEN department who also sent a survey where I could put any support that would be helpful such as doing exams on a word processor or using different-coloured paper. Even before the admissions assessment I was easily able to request the same support as I recieve for usual exams (word processor and 25% extra reading/writing time) which was added. Considering other needs, people who need ground-floor rooms, an en-suite, study skills support or wheelchair access can notify th euniversity and their college of this through the same means, as well the the accomodation forms (for my college at least) having space for any medical needs to be noted. Overall, I've felt that the dyslexia support has be vary efficient and not patronising in the slightest. It is also confidential and you're made aware of how your data will be treated, and to the permissions that are required in order to ensure that you get extra time and other help. I'd advise anyone with dyslexia, dyspraxia or etc who's considering applying to Cambridge for MML just to own your needs - it's very easy to think that you can get by very easily without xxx support, but when it's offered there's no shame in accepting, even at somewhere as academic at Cambridge! I brought up my dyslexia in relation to one of my interview questions and my interviews seemed genuinely interested in how it altered my perspective on the world and my perspective on language - if you're academically good enough for Cambridge, you're academically good enough for Cambridge, with or without additional challenges

Yes, translation is beautiful... I'm always disappointed when subtitles in particular just miss the point - the subtitles for Anne with an E on Netflix weren't my favourite particularly because of the mis-use of Tu and Vous - when has a 5 year old ever casually adressed another 5 year old as Vous? I was also surprised that they chose to translate prayers using 'vous' as usually God is addressed as Tu, although I can't say that this isn't a recent development, and so hesitate to criticise before I've done more research!

You're right about the admissions test - you're given a text in English which you must then discuss in 2 questions. The first question is written in your target language, and the second is written in English. You car answer these in whichever order you like, and should practice using exemplar and past papers: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....sment_2016.pdf. The first question should take 2/3 of your time, is written in a language that you intend to study, and focuses on your understanding and reaction to the given text. The second is written in English and should take the remainder of your time, and is very similar to an English Literature question, although you're not penalised for not knowing specific literary terminology, i.e if you didn't know that the following: 'The hunter was like a panther' was a similie, you would still get points for saying that the phrase makes the hunter sound like a predator, even if you didn't call it a similie. The mark scheme can be found and the bottom of the document of past papers.

That's the thread, thank you!

Are you interested in intralingual and intersemiotic translation as well as interlingual? I find intralingual translation specifically relevant to the study of interlingual translation, aprticularly considering the adaption of texts to suit different cultures which speak the same language, or else adapting a text to suit children!
Crikey, the MML admissions test for Cambridge is much tougher than it is for Oxford!

I am always fascinated how translators can adapt a text in a child's voice etc. And to reflect culture and the period in which it was written.

I can remember seeing a 19th century English translation of the novel "Nana" by my favourite French author, Emile Zola. It was so painful to read I had to put it down in the end.
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(Original post by redmeercat)
Other helpful resources for improving French (suggestions given for sixthformers, younger students may want to check age ratings for some films etc):

Podcasts/ Audio resources
Native level
- Les Grosses Tetes podcast (comedy gameshow type thing, very fast but you can learn some cool new words!)
- Le Debrief de Mattieu Noel (news-based)
- Music on youtube and other music apps (artists to start with if you don't know any: Edith Piaf, Zaz, Joe Dassin, BB Brunes, Louane)
Learner level
- Coffee break French
- Journal en Francais Facile
- Audio Lingua podcasts - A1, A2, B1, B2 etc (A1 = beginner, C2 = Completely Fluent)
- LyricsTraining app beginner level (listen and fill in the blanks to French song lyrics)
Reading
- Le Monde (news app like the Times or the BBC, some longer articles are only available to subscribers)
- La Fille de Papier, Guillaume Musso (teen novel)
- No et Moi, Delphine de Vigan (teen novel)
- Un Sac de Billes, Joseph Joffo (novel)
- Bakhita, Veronique Olmi (novel - long)
- Classique et Patrimoine, Extrait choisis Magnard (a series of books that French pupils often use to study long classic novels such as Les Miserables) https://www.google.com/search?q=Clas...w=1536&bih=722
For those who want to compare translations with English versions
- Harry Potter et L'Ecole des Sorciers (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
- Raison et Sentiment (Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen)
- La Bible
Audiovisual
- La Famille Belier (feel-good film about family, music and language)
- Seraphine (film about art, self-improvement and working hard)
- Amelie (Film about a young and slightly eccentric girl in Paris)
- Les Choristes (Story of a choir in a school for boys in France)
- La Haine (story of marginalised youth in Paris, the riots of the 1990s, racism, hopelessness and fighting for change)
- French/ Franglais youtube channels such as Paul Taylor, Montreaux comedy, La Fondation 30 Million d'Amis
- TV5Monde (TV channel with French learning resources)
Experiences
- Au Pairing - under 18s can only do this with personal contacts such as family friends, in which case it is more informal. Over 18s can use agencies or websites such as AuPairworld.com.
- School exchanges
- HelloTalk and Tandem apps (talk with native speakers in French and correct their English in return. As always, ensure that you remai safe online )
Grammar
- Lawless French (website, Spanish version available)
- Hemingway Complete French Grammar (book)
- other grammar books/ websites
TV5 (glad this is still going)
"Les grosses Tetes" - I can remember my French friends raving about this!
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redmeercat
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(Original post by Mona123456)
I really enjoyed reading this chapter, and wow, all the resources listed look fantastic, I’m sure they’ll be incredibly helpful for prospective applicants considering the course! Your interview tips and great and your EPQ topic sounds fascinating! Best of luck with everything
Thank you, glad you liked it!
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
TV5 (glad this is still going)
"Les grosses Tetes" - I can remember my French friends raving about this!
I love LGT... so immersive and great fun to try to understand! 😂
Perhaps the Cambridge one is more difficult because they interview a much larger proportion of applicants and so have to narrow it down more? I might go an see what the Oxford past papers are like now!
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(Original post by redmeercat)
Thank you, glad you liked it!

I love LGT... so immersive and great fun to try to understand! 😂
Perhaps the Cambridge one is more difficult because they interview a much larger proportion of applicants and so have to narrow it down more? I might go an see what the Oxford past papers are like now!
I was having a look for them but couldn't find them...

The Oxford one is basically let's translate these sentences English to German, German to English, let's look at this grammar point...

It's basically like doing exercises from a grammar book.

Why is it so good to be an au pair before the tests?

Because the Oxford tests have some basic vocabulary you wouldn't come across at A Level. For example, my son had a German sentence "She put the saucepan in the cupboard". Now he, and many other people on TSR were stumped on "saucepan" (A level only uses certain vocab). But you, as an au pair, might even have asked "where does the saucepan go" and they could have replied "put the saucepan in the cupboard".

Ironically, this would be a breeze to students of my generation, who, even at O level, had to translate the French for candy floss and dodgems into English.
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redmeercat
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
I was having a look for them but couldn't find them...

The Oxford one is basically let's translate these sentences English to German, German to English, let's look at this grammar point...

It's basically like doing exercises from a grammar book.

Why is it so good to be an au pair before the tests?

Because the Oxford tests have some basic vocabulary you wouldn't come across at A Level. For example, my son had a German sentence "She put the saucepan in the cupboard". Now he, and many other people on TSR were stumped on "saucepan" (A level only uses certain vocab). But you, as an au pair, might even have asked "where does the saucepan go" and they could have replied "put the saucepan in the cupboard".

Ironically, this would be a breeze to students of my generation, who, even at O level, had to translate the French for candy floss and dodgems into English.
Ooh, I see, I wondered why German languages applicants focused so much more on drilling grammar before the entrance tests that I did. Personally, my preparation largely consisted of writing these types of short essays, within and outside of the time limit. The benefit of the Cambridge exam is that it focuses on your ability to understand subtleties in a written text, and to use grammar as you see fit. Having spent 5 weeks using French, I can form coherent thoughts in French far more easily than before, despite the many mistakes that I still make - rather than thinking in English and translating, I got used to having the ideas in French. For the French part of the exam it was therefore a lot easier as I didn't have to do an in-depth plan beforehand as a couple of bullet points were enough to remind me of the basic elements of my arguement, and I could focus on showcasing all the fancy grammar I know, such as the imperfect subjunctive (my favourite!) and various forms of object pronouns! Hearing the language daily, you also get to understand how vocab is used in real life and so it's harder to fall into the trap of using a word how we would use it's English counterpart. Of course, you cannot become completely fluent in a few weeks, but any experience using a language practically will help a lot with the parts of any test or interview questions you may get which need to be answered in the language you're studying.

Admissions test tips:
1. Focus on saying what you can, and ignore any ideas which you're unable to express.
2. It's not an excercise of trying to get as many different tenses into as few words as possible, but you do want to show off your grammar vocab. Try to add your fancy grammar around your arguement so that it sounds more natural.
3. Don't worry about what other people may write or what thay have written, as different answers can be compeltely different but equally good.
4. Although the exemplars aren't all necessarily difficult texts, it's possible that you could get a text that's complicated or difficult to understand in the exam. Rather than panicking, focus on what you think the author might be trying to say, and what you do know about a text rather than on what you don't know.
5. Have confidence in what you know, and remember that it's only one part of the admissions process and that people have got in with lower scores before. You've also probably done better than you think
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Oxford Mum
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#13
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#13
(Original post by redmeercat)
Ooh, I see, I wondered why German languages applicants focused so much more on drilling grammar before the entrance tests that I did. Personally, my preparation largely consisted of writing these types of short essays, within and outside of the time limit. The benefit of the Cambridge exam is that it focuses on your ability to understand subtleties in a written text, and to use grammar as you see fit. Having spent 5 weeks using French, I can form coherent thoughts in French far more easily than before, despite the many mistakes that I still make - rather than thinking in English and translating, I got used to having the ideas in French. For the French part of the exam it was therefore a lot easier as I didn't have to do an in-depth plan beforehand as a couple of bullet points were enough to remind me of the basic elements of my arguement, and I could focus on showcasing all the fancy grammar I know, such as the imperfect subjunctive (my favourite!) and various forms of object pronouns! Hearing the language daily, you also get to understand how vocab is used in real life and so it's harder to fall into the trap of using a word how we would use it's English counterpart. Of course, you cannot become completely fluent in a few weeks, but any experience using a language practically will help a lot with the parts of any test or interview questions you may get which need to be answered in the language you're studying.

Admissions test tips:
1. Focus on saying what you can, and ignore any ideas which you're unable to express.
2. It's not an excercise of trying to get as many different tenses into as few words as possible, but you do want to show off your grammar vocab. Try to add your fancy grammar around your arguement so that it sounds more natural.
3. Don't worry about what other people may write or what thay have written, as different answers can be compeltely different but equally good.
4. Although the exemplars aren't all necessarily difficult texts, it's possible that you could get a text that's complicated or difficult to understand in the exam. Rather than panicking, focus on what you think the author might be trying to say, and what you do know about a text rather than on what you don't know.
5. Have confidence in what you know, and remember that it's only one part of the admissions process and that people have got in with lower scores before. You've also probably done better than you think
Imperfect subjunctive, eh? I can remember a French member of staff at my uni who said "nobody uses the imperfect subjunctive outside the Manchester French department (lol)

Your time in France will come in very useful. I can remember landing up at Poitiers train station, talking to a strange middle aged fare dodger. He seemed to be speaking in a foreign language. Later I found out that he was talking in "argot" and that many, many people just use slang words, rather than the French I learnt. For example I never heard the word "voiture" but rather "bagnolle" for car. It's like learning French all over again.
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redmeercat
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#14
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#14
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Imperfect subjunctive, eh? I can remember a French member of staff at my uni who said "nobody uses the imperfect subjunctive outside the Manchester French department (lol)

Your time in France will come in very useful. I can remember landing up at Poitiers train station, talking to a strange middle aged fare dodger. He seemed to be speaking in a foreign language. Later I found out that he was talking in "argot" and that many, many people just use slang words, rather than the French I learnt. For example I never heard the word "voiture" but rather "bagnolle" for car. It's like learning French all over again.
Yes, I heard A LOT of Verlan (...) And the southern dialect was also strange to get used too! But it's so satisfying to get a few weeks in a realise that, whilst you're still making mistakes and whilst your accent still raises a few eyebrows on occasion, on the whole you're able to communicate and experience France rather than just being there... I'm really looking forward to the year abroad in a few years, and becoming more confident with the language!
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Oxford Mum
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#15
(Original post by redmeercat)
Yes, I heard A LOT of Verlan (...) And the southern dialect was also strange to get used too! But it's so satisfying to get a few weeks in a realise that, whilst you're still making mistakes and whilst your accent still raises a few eyebrows on occasion, on the whole you're able to communicate and experience France rather than just being there... I'm really looking forward to the year abroad in a few years, and becoming more confident with the language!
Wait until you start dreaming in French - then you definitely know you've cracked it!
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#16
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#16
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Wait until you start dreaming in French - then you definitely know you've cracked it!
I look forward to it!


I just remembered that I should probably mention submitted work. At Corpus Christi (althoughI think this is the same or similar for most if not all Cambridge colleges in regards to MML) we were required to send in 2 essays, each with a cover sheet. These could not be written or rewritten specifically for Cambridge, and I believe they had to have been marked by teachers and signed off on the cover sheet before I sent them. Personally, I tend to fall into habits in my A level French essays, where essays about a certain book or film will likely be very similar to another about the same text! Therefore, I chose to send in one essay about the French political system and one about the film La Haine, both of which were A grade rather than A*. I chose these particular examples because they had been written in exam conditions in end of year/ class mocks (and we did have to record the conditions under which they were written) and because I'd used a good variety of grammar. They were by no means perfect, but they did show an ability to work in exam conditions as well as grammatical knowledge. Something to remember is that every exam board has slightly different criteria to get different grades meaning that the grade given for a piece of work is unlikely to be the focus (although you do want to send in highly-marked work, of course!) opposed to the general skills shown and evidence of your teacher's marking and how you've been taught.

https://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/undergrad...y/written-work - 2 essays, including 1 in English
https://www.caths.cam.ac.uk/study-us...g-written-work - 3 essays, including 1or 2 in English

Cover sheet exampels
https://www.corpus.cam.ac.uk/sites/d...over_sheet.pdf
https://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/system/fi...itten_work.pdf
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#17
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#17
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Imperfect subjunctive, eh? I can remember a French member of staff at my uni who said "nobody uses the imperfect subjunctive outside the Manchester French department (lol)

Your time in France will come in very useful. I can remember landing up at Poitiers train station, talking to a strange middle aged fare dodger. He seemed to be speaking in a foreign language. Later I found out that he was talking in "argot" and that many, many people just use slang words, rather than the French I learnt. For example I never heard the word "voiture" but rather "bagnolle" for car. It's like learning French all over again.
At Edinburgh in my first year of French, we had to rewrite a chapter of a novel into drama. I remember using quite a bit of imperfect subjunctive for this (which I, admittedly, didn't struggle with considering how prevalent the tense is in contemporary Spanish language), and relative pronouns... Good Lord; I think I still have some sort of PTSD from all of the relative pronouns that I had to use. Funnily enough, thinking of relative pronouns in French gives me the same (frightening) feeling that I get when thinking of maths... :lol:
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redmeercat
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#18
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#18
(Original post by Quick-use)
At Edinburgh in my first year of French, we had to rewrite a chapter of a novel into drama. I remember using quite a bit of imperfect subjunctive for this (which I, admittedly, didn't struggle with considering how prevalent the tense is in contemporary Spanish language), and relative pronouns... Good Lord; I think I still have some sort of PTSD from all of the relative pronouns that I had to use. Funnily enough, thinking of relative pronouns in French gives me the same (frightening) feeling that I get when thinking of maths... :lol:
I was hoping it wasn't just me that felt a sense of rising fear at the very thought of numbers!
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languagefairy
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#19
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#19
Would a pen pal be a good idea to improve vocabulary for interviews?
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Oxford Mum
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Yes, it would be an excellent idea! Have you looked for one/found one?

I had penpals, and it was really great for my French and German!

(Original post by languagefairy)
Would a pen pal be a good idea to improve vocabulary for interviews?
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