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What A-levels should I take for linguistics

I'm in my final year of GCSEs taking German, Art, Drama and Geography. Next year I was hoping that I would be able to take German to help me get the qualifications for a degree in linguistics and modern languages, unfortunately I can't access a German A-level without traveling an unreasonable distance so I now I need help with what subjects would be helpful for a degree in linguistics and modern languages
I think if you want to do a degree in linguistics and modern languages then you defo need at least one language at A level. even tho you did German at GCSE are there any other languages that your school offers at A level? e.g if you worked hard enough you could probably do Spanish at a level without having done it at GCSE. thats what I did; I did not do Spanish at gcse but am doing it now for A level, had to work hard to catch up a bit but now im predicted an A*
Original post by florenceeeetthh
I think if you want to do a degree in linguistics and modern languages then you defo need at least one language at A level. even tho you did German at GCSE are there any other languages that your school offers at A level? e.g if you worked hard enough you could probably do Spanish at a level without having done it at GCSE. thats what I did; I did not do Spanish at gcse but am doing it now for A level, had to work hard to catch up a bit but now im predicted an A*

I think that some schools will only let you do a language at A-level if you did it at GCSE level 🤷🏾*♀️.
Original post by florenceeeetthh
I think if you want to do a degree in linguistics and modern languages then you defo need at least one language at A level. even tho you did German at GCSE are there any other languages that your school offers at A level? e.g if you worked hard enough you could probably do Spanish at a level without having done it at GCSE. thats what I did; I did not do Spanish at gcse but am doing it now for A level, had to work hard to catch up a bit but now im predicted an A*

The thing is all the colleges and sixth forms in my area don't really offer language courses, and when they do they often don't run it which is why I'm asking for advice. I have applied for every college near me that offers language courses so I'm just waiting to hear back from them
You don't need to have studied a foreign language while in school to do linguistics. It's arguably of somewhat marginal benefit, unless you want to specialise in the linguistics of that language. Linguistics is the study of language, not languages - i.e. language in the abstract. It is in fact often quite abstract in some areas (semantic/syntactic theory for example).

So having a language background isn't necessarily that useful (also outside of ancient languages i.e. Greek and Latin you don't really do that much formal grammatical training in most MFL subjects I think, rather just learn as much as you need and kind of wing it and then learn the grammar properly in an MFL degree if you continue to it, I gather).

In theory any mix of subjects is fine (and in fact specifically taking a mix of subjects might be good preparation, as it often includes a wide range of approaches that can range from more humanistic or social scientific to more natural scientific or formal scientific). Those with more experimental and/or phonetics content may want or require a science subject (e.g. UCL's experimental linguistics route), although most do not.

I'd say just take what you will get the best results in. The only really directly related A-level is English language, which includes some linguistics content. However a lot of that A-level is still unrelated so if you don't really like creative writing, I'd say not to bother. If you want to apply to UCL experimental linguistics or PPL at Oxford then a science A-level (e.g. biology, physics, chemistry, maths) may be necessary.
Reply 5
If English Language is an option available to you, that'd be the most valuable if you wish to study linguistics. But really, it does not matter too much.

You say you want a degree in 'linguistics and modern languages', so really for the modern languages part, I'd assume an A-Level in an MFL would be beneficial, and possibly necessary depending on course requirements and where you wish to attend.
Hi there,

In my opinion, you don't need to do a language at A-Level, plenty of universities offer a language from beginner level. Many of the people on my course and in my languages department started a language in the first year of uni and now in our final year, all the ab-initio students (something you might hear instead of beginner, it means the same thing) and students who did the language at A-Level are at the same level.
In terms of linguistics, as someone suggested above doing English Language or even English Literature at A-Level puts you in good stead to be able to start understanding how language works.
The important thing when applying would be to be able to show your passion for linguistics and languages. Maybe watch some German tv shows or read some translated works by German authors to keep your interest in the language going over the next few years!

Hope that is helpful! But don't worry about it, there are plenty of people who start a language ab-initio and the fact that you've done a GCSE in German is already a huge help.

-Daisy :smile: (Final year Spanish student)

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