The Student Room Group

Do I need to be fluent?

In year 12 currently and doing some initial investigations into courses (mostly physics related) and interested in a year abroad. I’d love the experience and would definitely do my best to learn the language, but I think I’d struggle if the course was taught in another language. Are years abroad ever taught in English, or always in the language of the host country? Are there opportunities at uni to learn the language before the year abroad? Thanks!
I think most study abroad programmes tend to be in English! Often you can find on the uni website what level of proficiency you need depending on the course and uni (such as 'all modules taught in english' or 'two modules taught in icelandic'), but I think that learning in English tends to be the norm :smile:
Depends entirely on the uni and how they structure their year abroad/exchange programme. Normally though courses are taught in the native language of the country you are studying in, and typically as a result they expect you to have language ability to a certain level for non-Anglophone countries. Usually you can take language modules either for credit as options in your degree, or not-for credit through classes with your universities language centre (the latter are normally paid courses though).

Note that even if the course was taught in English, do not assume anything else in the country will be in English. Typically the average person will not speak English, and all e.g. street signs, labels, magazines, radio, TV, etc, will all be in the native language there. So even for courses taught in English, it's normally essential to have some background in the language to enable you just to function in the country outside of your classes (the only alternative is living in an English speaking bubble at the uni and never actually engaging with the local culture, which defeats the purpose of studying abroad).

However in both cases, you don't need to be fluent in the language - typically A-level standard or so is the minimum expected, and you'll pick more up along the way. Immersion is a powerful tool in language learning! They may also have intensive language classes before the start of term or similar for exchange students, sometimes.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by artful_lounger

However in both cases, you don't need to be fluent in the language - typically A-level standard or so is the minimum expected, and you'll pick more up along the way. Immersion is a powerful tool in language learning! They may also have intensive language classes before the start of term or similar for exchange students, sometimes.

Thank you! So do I need to have studied a language at A-level or can I learn what I need to know at uni? I definitely want to immerse myself in the culture of where I study, so I wouldn’t want to be in a bubble, but learning languages doesn’t come naturally. I did get a 9 in gcse french which I was surprised by as I was never at all confident in french. Do you know how soon you know what country you’ll be studying in?
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you! So do I need to have studied a language at A-level or can I learn what I need to know at uni? I definitely want to immerse myself in the culture of where I study, so I wouldn’t want to be in a bubble, but learning languages doesn’t come naturally. I did get a 9 in gcse french which I was surprised by as I was never at all confident in french. Do you know how soon you know what country you’ll be studying in?


This all really varies between unis and the exchange partners. Generally speaking, the uni will guide you on what level of language attainment you need for a given partner - depending on what your course is and when the year abroad takes place, it may or may not be feasible to attain that level in time if you haven't done a GCSE or A-level in the language previously.

The uni doesn't tell you what country you study in - you select which one(s) you're interested in and then will either go there or enter into some kind of selection process (if the destination is oversubscribed) to determine if you get your choice. If you do not (or fail to meet other requirements, usually academic) then you just don't do the year abroad if it's an optional part of the course (obviously for modern languages courses it's normally a mandatory part of the degree).

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