cocobeldam
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#1
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#1
I’m currently in Year 12 studying Spanish, English language, and Psychology. I really want to study Spanish and Chinese at university, but whenever I tell anyone about it they always say it’s useless and that I should just learn languages outside of uni and get a degree in something that will make me more money.

I’m not really interested in anything else, and languages have been my passion for a really long time now. I’m not sure what career I want in the future though, but I think I would really enjoy teaching English as a foreign language, or teaching a foreign language in an English speaking country. I know I’m not gonna get rich if I do that, but is that really so bad? I care more about being happy than having a million pounds worth of disposable income. My parents seem to disagree though. They say that I should study law instead so that I can have a well paying job, and they also say that “I’m going to get sick of languages sooner or later”- which I truly do not see happening. Also I have no interest in law so I don’t even know why they’re so adamant about that...

Anyway, I’m just really questioning myself now because of this. Can someone give me some advice? What do I do?
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tinygirl96
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#2
Report 1 year ago
#2
Benefits

Improved ability to cope
Higher order thinking ability
Better cultural awareness

Drawbacks
Other than time consuming I cannot think of one seriously.
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Emily_B
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#3
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#3
(Original post by cocobeldam)
I’m currently in Year 12 studying Spanish, English language, and Psychology. I really want to study Spanish and Chinese at university, but whenever I tell anyone about it they always say it’s useless and that I should just learn languages outside of uni and get a degree in something that will make me more money.

I’m not really interested in anything else, and languages have been my passion for a really long time now. I’m not sure what career I want in the future though, but I think I would really enjoy teaching English as a foreign language, or teaching a foreign language in an English speaking country. I know I’m not gonna get rich if I do that, but is that really so bad? I care more about being happy than having a million pounds worth of disposable income. My parents seem to disagree though. They say that I should study law instead so that I can have a well paying job, and they also say that “I’m going to get sick of languages sooner or later”- which I truly do not see happening. Also I have no interest in law so I don’t even know why they’re so adamant about that...

Anyway, I’m just really questioning myself now because of this. Can someone give me some advice? What do I do?
If it's what you want to do, other people's opinions shouldn't really matter. There s absolutely no point in doing a degree in something you're not interested in - you won't do very well that way; there's no way you can pass a law degree when you're not interested.
My first degree was German and History. I did it because it was stuff I enjoyed.
Many places of work which ask for a degree aren't bothered which subjects you did it in, as long as you can prove transferable skills. If you want to go into teaching, great - go and do it.
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Kerzen
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#4
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#4
I have a Modern Languages degree.

You may find some of these interesting.

https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx...=LE&lang=en-US

https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/careers...igence-officer

https://monitoring.bbc.co.uk/experts

https://www.gchq-careers.co.uk/index.html
Last edited by Kerzen; 1 year ago
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bluemoon03
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#5
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#5
I'm biased because I'm a languages offer-holder, but I really don't think I'll regret my decision because it's something I love and does lend itself to lots of career prospects after. The way I see it is that a languages degree gives you all the transferable skills of any arts/humanities degree, as well as the ability to speak multiple languages, which is so useful for intercultural communication and awareness. You still have a while to think about it and opportunities to research unis and courses, but at the end of the day it's the next years of your life you're considering, so you shouldn't let the people around you be the main influence
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cocobeldam
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#6
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#6
Thank you so much!!! Do you mind if I ask which language(s) you studied and where? What was the course like?
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cocobeldam
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#7
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#7
(Original post by yellowstar03)
I'm biased because I'm a languages offer-holder, but I really don't think I'll regret my decision because it's something I love and does lend itself to lots of career prospects after. The way I see it is that a languages degree gives you all the transferable skills of any arts/humanities degree, as well as the ability to speak multiple languages, which is so useful for intercultural communication and awareness. You still have a while to think about it and opportunities to research unis and courses, but at the end of the day it's the next years of your life you're considering, so you shouldn't let the people around you be the main influence
Thank you for the advice
(Original post by Emily_B)
If it's what you want to do, other people's opinions shouldn't really matter. There s absolutely no point in doing a degree in something you're not interested in - you won't do very well that way; there's no way you can pass a law degree when you're not interested.
My first degree was German and History. I did it because it was stuff I enjoyed.
Many places of work which ask for a degree aren't bothered which subjects you did it in, as long as you can prove transferable skills. If you want to go into teaching, great - go and do it.
What was studying German like? Did you reach “fluency” by the end of your course?
Last edited by cocobeldam; 1 year ago
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Oxford Mum
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#8
Report 1 year ago
#8
(Original post by cocobeldam)
I’m currently in Year 12 studying Spanish, English language, and Psychology. I really want to study Spanish and Chinese at university, but whenever I tell anyone about it they always say it’s useless and that I should just learn languages outside of uni and get a degree in something that will make me more money.

I’m not really interested in anything else, and languages have been my passion for a really long time now. I’m not sure what career I want in the future though, but I think I would really enjoy teaching English as a foreign language, or teaching a foreign language in an English speaking country. I know I’m not gonna get rich if I do that, but is that really so bad? I care more about being happy than having a million pounds worth of disposable income. My parents seem to disagree though. They say that I should study law instead so that I can have a well paying job, and they also say that “I’m going to get sick of languages sooner or later”- which I truly do not see happening. Also I have no interest in law so I don’t even know why they’re so adamant about that...

Anyway, I’m just really questioning myself now because of this. Can someone give me some advice? What do I do?
Chinese sounds like a great language to learn. Sheffield university is great for Chinese. They also teach Luxembourgish there as well, which is quite niche.

If you have no interest in law, don't do it.
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Emily_B
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#9
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#9
Lots of improving on vocab and grammar, through the only ways possible... doing stuff in the language. We did loads on current affairs in Germany/Austria/Switzerland, German novels, conversational German...
And yes I did reach fluency, helped by spending a year in Germany as part of it.
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SirNoodles
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#10
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#10
A really important piece of advice is that you should follow your passion and study what you enjoy. Enjoying your degree and getting a 2:1+ is way better than struggling through a law degree, finding it completely uninteresting and coming out with a 2:2. Most people call this advice bullsh*t and I get that because there are some things that you can be passionate about that aren't going to pay the bills. A Modern Language degree admittedly isn't going to be as ludicrous as STEM degrees but it's not a one-way ticket to the dole either.

Modern Language degrees basically provide you with the same transferrable skills as any other humanities degree - when I say transferrable skills I'm referring to skills like organisation, teamwork, communication skills (this is especially relevant to a language degree), research, analysing data/texts etc. These skills set you up for the 70% of jobs which don't require any specific degree as they're not as specialised as engineering or medicine jobs which, without any surprise, specifically require an engineering or medicine degree. Maybe it's my bias as I will be doing Modern Languages in September so apologies to any other humanities students if I'm wrong but I also feel like Modern Language degrees are up there as one of the best humanities degrees as not only do they provide you with the transferrable skills any other humanities degree would but they give you an extremely valuable and sought after skill - proficiency in a foreign language. And you also spend a year abroad which is highly valued by employers.

Aside from the generalist grad schemes which don't require a specific degree, there is also a vocational aspect with Modern Language degrees as they do set you up to go onto translating, interpreting or teaching (which do all need another qualification, though). The British Council is also looking for foreign language speakers to apply to their grad schemes in diplomacy and intelligence services such as GCHQ or MI5 are looking for language graduates in languages such as Chinese. But, once again, if none of these language-orientated careers interested you there are still loads of non-degree specific jobs that you could apply to.

I suppose there are two main problems with a language degree, though:

The fact that you could teach yourself a language - this is true as university language classes aren't necessarily the best way of getting to fluency in a language as this can simply be done through private tuition. However, this rhetoric could apply for many other degrees. The thing is, though, learning the language only accounts for 50% of the degree as the other half of the degree revolves around learning the history, literature, politics, cinema, linguistics, culture etc. regarding the countries that speak the language you are studying. So a language degree is essentially a language, history, politics, literature degree all combined into one. Plus, a degree is basically a requirement for most jobs nowadays and it's definitely a requirement for MFL-themed jobs so getting a degree is very much worth your time even if you could "teach it yourself at home".

This leads onto my next point that language degrees, while covering loads of interesting topics, don't really specialise into anything highly practical and employable by itself (excluding the ability to speak the language, of course). The main skills you get specifically out of a language degree is speaking one or more foreign languages, developing communication skills and an international/cultural understanding. This lends itself to some jobs but my advice would be (this is what I plan on doing) to get really active just outside of your degree. It's true that languages open doors but they have to accompany a wide skillset which you could achieve by getting involved in different societies, extracurricular activities, internships etc. This does, however, apply for any other degree, though. A degree itself doesn't suffice for employers as they would rather hire someone with relevant work experience - a degree is almost like a passport to work or a . If there was another discipline you're interested in, a joint-honours with a language and that other degree would be highly employable and would provide you with more career security.

So to reiterate my point, a language degree has its positives and negatives. If you are passionate about languages then fully go for it. Languages are my passion, my obsession and hobby so for me the positives outweigh the negatives and I couldn't imagine a better degree to do if you really are passionate about languages.

Good luck for the future and I hope to have given some decent insight
Last edited by SirNoodles; 1 year ago
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cocobeldam
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#11
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#11
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Chinese sounds like a great language to learn. Sheffield university is great for Chinese. They also teach Luxembourgish there as well, which is quite niche.

If you have no interest in law, don't do it.
Thank you! I'll look into Sheffield!!
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cocobeldam
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#12
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#12
(Original post by SirNoodles)
A really important piece of advice is that you should follow your passion and study what you enjoy. Enjoying your degree and getting a 2:1+ is way better than struggling through a law degree, finding it completely uninteresting and coming out with a 2:2. Most people call this advice bullsh*t and I get that because there are some things that you can be passionate about that aren't going to pay the bills. A Modern Language degree admittedly isn't going to be as ludicrous as STEM degrees but it's not a one-way ticket to the dole either.

Modern Language degrees basically provide you with the same transferrable skills as any other humanities degree - when I say transferrable skills I'm referring to skills like organisation, teamwork, communication skills (this is especially relevant to a language degree), research, analysing data/texts etc. These skills set you up for the 70% of jobs which don't require any specific degree as they're not as specialised as engineering or medicine jobs which, without any surprise, specifically require an engineering or medicine degree. Maybe it's my bias as I will be doing Modern Languages in September so apologies to any other humanities students if I'm wrong but I also feel like Modern Language degrees are up there as one of the best humanities degrees as not only do they provide you with the transferrable skills any other humanities degree would but they give you an extremely valuable and sought after skill - proficiency in a foreign language. And you also spend a year abroad which is highly valued by employers.

Aside from the generalist grad schemes which don't require a specific degree, there is also a vocational aspect with Modern Language degrees as they do set you up to go onto translating, interpreting or teaching (which do all need another qualification, though). The British Council is also looking for foreign language speakers to apply to their grad schemes in diplomacy and intelligence services such as GCHQ or MI5 are looking for language graduates in languages such as Chinese. But, once again, if none of these language-orientated careers interested you there are still loads of non-degree specific jobs that you could apply to.

I suppose there are two main problems with a language degree, though:

The fact that you could teach yourself a language - this is true as university language classes aren't necessarily the best way of getting to fluency in a language as this can simply be done through private tuition. However, this rhetoric could apply for many other degrees. The thing is, though, learning the language only accounts for 50% of the degree as the other half of the degree revolves around learning the history, literature, politics, cinema, linguistics, culture etc. regarding the countries that speak the language you are studying. So a language degree is essentially a language, history, politics, literature degree all combined into one. Plus, a degree is basically a requirement for most jobs nowadays and it's definitely a requirement for MFL-themed jobs so getting a degree is very much worth your time even if you could "teach it yourself at home".

This leads onto my next point that language degrees, while covering loads of interesting topics, don't really specialise into anything highly practical and employable by itself (excluding the ability to speak the language, of course). The main skills you get specifically out of a language degree is speaking one or more foreign languages, developing communication skills and an international/cultural understanding. This lends itself to some jobs but my advice would be (this is what I plan on doing) to get really active just outside of your degree. It's true that languages open doors but they have to accompany a wide skillset which you could achieve by getting involved in different societies, extracurricular activities, internships etc. This does, however, apply for any other degree, though. A degree itself doesn't suffice for employers as they would rather hire someone with relevant work experience - a degree is almost like a passport to work or a . If there was another discipline you're interested in, a joint-honours with a language and that other degree would be highly employable and would provide you with more career security.

So to reiterate my point, a language degree has its positives and negatives. If you are passionate about languages then fully go for it. Languages are my passion, my obsession and hobby so for me the positives outweigh the negatives and I couldn't imagine a better degree to do if you really are passionate about languages.

Good luck for the future and I hope to have given some decent insight
That was VERY insightful, thank you so much for taking the time to write this! After reading this, I think you've convinced me that Modern Languages is what I want to get a degree in. The joint honours point is something I'll have to look into! Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

By the way, which languages are you going to study and at which university?
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Oxford Mum
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#13
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#13
(Original post by cocobeldam)
That was VERY insightful, thank you so much for taking the time to write this! After reading this, I think you've convinced me that Modern Languages is what I want to get a degree in. The joint honours point is something I'll have to look into! Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

By the way, which languages are you going to study and at which university?
My son got two of his jobs, simply because he could speak German.

A UCL graduate recently got a degree as a ship broker, because she can speak Chinese (lots of newbuilds and tankers are built in Shanghai).

It's very hard to get work experience after a law degree.
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desert_fairy
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#14
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#14
you could do your language degree and then a law conversion if u wanted ?x
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Oxford Mum
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#15
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#15
(Original post by desert_fairy)
you could do your language degree and then a law conversion if u wanted ?x
Exactly this!
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SirNoodles
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#16
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#16
(Original post by cocobeldam)
That was VERY insightful, thank you so much for taking the time to write this! After reading this, I think you've convinced me that Modern Languages is what I want to get a degree in. The joint honours point is something I'll have to look into! Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

By the way, which languages are you going to study and at which university?
No problem, it's a pleasure to have been able to help

I'm going to be doing Spanish, French and Portuguese at Nottingham!
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Laurencato
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#17
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#17
Definitely go for it! SOAS is a good university for languages too
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SpannersVC
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#18
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#18
I did modern languages and it’s been absolutely useless. I have a good career but it’s no thanks to my degree and if I’d done something more worthwhile I would have more career paths open to me.

It was fine spending 4 years studying something fun but in the long run, the detriment to my career hasn’t been worth it.
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SirNoodles
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#19
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#19
(Original post by SpannersVC)
I did modern languages and it’s been absolutely useless. I have a good career but it’s no thanks to my degree and if I’d done something more worthwhile I would have more career paths open to me.

It was fine spending 4 years studying something fun but in the long run, the detriment to my career hasn’t been worth it.
I have some questions, if you didn't mind answering of course:

- What languages did you do?
- Where did you study?
- How did most of your coursemates do in terms of employment after graduating with MFL?
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SpannersVC
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#20
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#20
(Original post by SirNoodles)
I have some questions, if you didn't mind answering of course:

- What languages did you do?
- Where did you study?
- How did most of your coursemates do in terms of employment after graduating with MFL?
French and Turkish (I was originally going to do Arabic as one but changed my mind)
Manchester
I’d say everyone is employed but except for a few teachers, no one I know is in a job they got due to having studied languages or who even uses them on a regular basis.
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