help with oxbridge modern languages personal statement

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lucyyyyyy227
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Tips for an oxbridge modern languages personal statement??? (French and beginner's Italian) but anybody with experience applying for mfl please let me know any ideas you have ! thank you xx
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PetitePanda
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redmeercat Espançais Oxford Mum any advice for OP?
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Hello!

The Oxford course (if that's the uni you end up choosing) is very literature-heavy. So if you end up applying there, it'll be good to show evidence of having read a few French texts (ideally one or two outside of anything you've had to read for school) and citing these in your PS, with some accompanying intelligent remarks about them :smartass:

The other people tagged will have far better knowledge about what should be in a PS, so if my advice contradicts theirs, go with whatever they say
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redmeercat
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For cambridge, it's a great idea to show a range of interests such as film, literature and other aspects of culture, since the course is very multi-faceted. You want to highlight your love for both the languages and the culture, and you can show this any way you like... I even talked about things like translating board game instructions into French for some friends' children, and reading Harry Potter in French. The point is that whatever you've done, be it an online course, reading, watching films, work experience or anything else, relate it back to the academic study of language and culture, and how it makes you a great candidate for studying languages at uni. For ab initio subjects, you especially want to emphasize you experience with the la guage and culture which make you want to learn more.

Feel free to ask more questions or DM me! I got a conditionalpconditional at Camb (Corpus Christi) for 2020 entry, so I'd be happy to talk to you about any aspect of the admissions process x
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Espançais
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Thanks PetitePanda!
What The_Lonely_Goatherd said is right. With the reading, depth is better than breadth, so 3-4 bits of literature (poems and short stories work just as well as plays and novels, and can be easier to finish!) with a bit about what you enjoyed and why is better than a list of 10 books. I'd advise reading in French if you can, using a translation to help with the tricky bits. For Italian, you aren't expected to be able to know the language at all, but some literature in translation and maybe some history, film, etc, will help show your interest in the language. Try to find a thread through your reading/essay competitions/ random language vibes and centre your PS around that - for me it was translation, so I mentioned the translation I'd done for fun, the essay I'd written on it (even though I didn't win the competition), my interest in literary translation and literature as a means of understanding the culture of a language, etc.
Good luck!
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Espançais
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I also mentioned a couple of films that I'd watched and found out more about (I got into French school films and read up on the history of the French education system, as you do 😂) and my love of translating idioms with my equally geeky French exchange partner lol. Lmk if you have any questions as you go through the process (I've just finished 1st year at Oxford)
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PetitePanda
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(Original post by Espançais)
Thanks PetitePanda!
What The_Lonely_Goatherd said is right. With the reading, depth is better than breadth, so 3-4 bits of literature (poems and short stories work just as well as plays and novels, and can be easier to finish!) with a bit about what you enjoyed and why is better than a list of 10 books. I'd advise reading in French if you can, using a translation to help with the tricky bits. For Italian, you aren't expected to be able to know the language at all, but some literature in translation and maybe some history, film, etc, will help show your interest in the language. Try to find a thread through your reading/essay competitions/ random language vibes and centre your PS around that - for me it was translation, so I mentioned the translation I'd done for fun, the essay I'd written on it (even though I didn't win the competition), my interest in literary translation and literature as a means of understanding the culture of a language, etc.
Good luck!
Here's some essay comps you might like: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6419758 (I plan to make a new one with the estimated dates from this year so I dont have to update it)
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lucyyyyyy227
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Thanks so much everyone this is very helpful!! Xx
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JosephCiderBwoy
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(Original post by lucyyyyyy227)
Tips for an oxbridge modern languages personal statement??? (French and beginner's Italian) but anybody with experience applying for mfl please let me know any ideas you have ! thank you xx
Please clarify which Oxbridge university you mean, because my advice is for if you're applying to Oxford. Cambridge isn't that different, but there are some key differences you'll need to know. If that's the case, look at other answers.

I get that I'm late, as applications are meant to be sent off soon, but here are some things. I applied to Oxford for French and ab initio Italian in Winter 2018 and got rejected after interview. I can't disclose anything from the interview, but I can give tips based off what I've learnt since then, and some tips for the MLAT test. This advice applies to Oxford, which is a bit different to Cambridge's process.
  • As The_Lonely_Goatherd said, the course involves lots of literature. In order to manage this, you need to either love reading or be able to read copious amounts of literature. It's not easy, in this regard.
  • As I just said, you'll have to sit the MLAT test. For French, it's basically a grammar exercise made up of filling in blanks – prepositions, relative pronouns (que, qui, où, lequel), verb conjugations (especially subjunctive, gerunds, and 'si' clauses) – and translating both ways. For Italian, you get given a made-up language and a set of sentences in this language. The sentences will have common elements, e.g. 'erpoi = man, napoi = woman, therefore er- is a masc. suffix and na- is a fem. suffix', and you'll have to spot these and create new sentences. This isn't tricky but it takes a lot of brainpower. Make sure to sit a few past exams before the real thing takes place.
  • You'll have to submit two essays - one in French, one in English.
  • Depending on these parts of your application – personal statement, predicted grades, GCSE grades, references, and admissions test – you'll either be invited to interview or rejected (they interview almost everyone, don't worry). For your interview, I'd recommend reading a few texts, be they books or poems, outside of your A Level course. I read Candide by Voltaire and Spleen by Baudelaire (I didn't do much prep, and wasn't too into reading, hence my rejection). It doesn't have to be many, just two or three that you can talk analytically about.
  • Use your time at the college to relax but be prepared. For Cambridge, it can be just overnight, but Oxford keep you for a few days. Make sure to check the board in the college's JCR common room to see if you get 'pooled' (it means you have an interview at another college, as the college you're at thinks you have the potential to go there but hasn't got enough places for you).

I get it's long but trust me, it'll be fine. Also seek other advice, as mine is about my own experience, and it's not representative of everyone's. One thing that helped me not to be scared about interviews was seeing it as an opportunity to chat to world-leading experts on my subject, so I was more excited than scared. Ask for any more info if need be
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