The Student Room Logo

Oxford language applicants - 2024 entry

Scroll to see replies

Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
I'm glad you found it useful! I'm so sorry for not responding to this sooner.

My friend from Christ Church studied Classics (graduated with a first) and he's an excellent tutor if you are interested! He's also just one of the loveliest and sweetest people I know! He can tutor the following:
-Latin up to A-Level
-Classical Civilisation up to A-level
-Ancient History on Late Republican/Early Imperial Rome up to A-level
-Ancient Greek up to GCSE

I noticed that the Classics course does seem to have quite a heavy focus on Roman history, but I'm not an expert so it might be best to chat with him about it - I'd be more than happy to set up a free trial lesson/introductory call if you are interested? That way you can pick his brain about the course and also see if you'd like him as a tutor!

All the best!


Hiya, thank you I'll defo read up on Roman History some more! Thanks for the recommendation, but I just have one question really -- do you think (especially in terms of personal statements and maybe interviews) that it would be possible to apply to some universities for straight Classics, and others for Classics and Italian?
Reply 21
Oh
Original post by mercyawc
Thank you so much for the offer! I'm actually already on one for my college (Wadham), and don't want to encroach on those going to chch.

Oh I thought you were chch haha, congrats on your offer!
Original post by RedVelvet16
Hiya, thank you I'll defo read up on Roman History some more! Thanks for the recommendation, but I just have one question really -- do you think (especially in terms of personal statements and maybe interviews) that it would be possible to apply to some universities for straight Classics, and others for Classics and Italian?

Hey! Yes I believe that's definitely possible. Quite a few people I know have applied for slightly different subjects at various universities, although obviously UCAS doesn't make this easy because you can only have one personal statement! I'd recommend talking to your teachers about this and getting help from them if possible :smile:
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hey! Yes I believe that's definitely possible. Quite a few people I know have applied for slightly different subjects at various universities, although obviously UCAS doesn't make this easy because you can only have one personal statement! I'd recommend talking to your teachers about this and getting help from them if possible :smile:

Great, thank you!!!
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hi everyone!

I am setting up this thread to act as a space for students who are applying, or considering applying, to study languages at the University of Oxford.

I am an Oxford graduate I studied Russian and Spanish at Christ Church College. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an Oxford student and I would like to support others in their applications to study languages at Oxford.

Feel free to post any questions or concerns that you may have surrounding the application process I will do my best to answer them 😊

P.S.
I am also developing some online foreign literature courses, which will be taught by a PhD student at Oxford or Cambridge. The aim of these will be to support Oxbridge language applicants to explore the literature of their target language, studying elements of translation, style, historical context, etc. with the help of an Oxbridge-educated expert. If you are interested in joining a course, please either message me in this thread or visit the LinguaTute website and reach out to me there :smile: Thanks!


For anyone applying to study FRENCH at the University of Oxford, we have a FREE taster lesson coming up on the 10th of June at 10:00am UK time (UTC+1) which will be on Madame Bovary! This is a taster lesson for our French Literature Course (taking place this summer from July to September). If you are interested, please visit LinguaTute > Online French Literature Course to book the taster lesson. We will also have a recording available if you can't make the time/date, so feel free to either request a recording via our 'contact' page on the website, or book a place on the taster lesson and just respond to one of my follow-up emails to let me know that you'd like the recording :smile: Thanks!
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
For anyone applying to study FRENCH at the University of Oxford, we have a FREE taster lesson coming up on the 10th of June at 10:00am UK time (UTC+1) which will be on Madame Bovary! This is a taster lesson for our French Literature Course (taking place this summer from July to September). If you are interested, please visit LinguaTute > Online French Literature Course to book the taster lesson. We will also have a recording available if you can't make the time/date, so feel free to either request a recording via our 'contact' page on the website, or book a place on the taster lesson and just respond to one of my follow-up emails to let me know that you'd like the recording :smile: Thanks!


Just following this up, the recording of the taster session is now available here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFMmCFpn4as - for anyone who would like to watch a FREE one-hour lesson on 'Madame Bovary' (by Gustave Flaubert) taught by a PhD student at Oxford! It's really informative and particularly useful if you're interested in applying to study French at Oxford or Cambridge.

Enjoy!
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hiya, thanks so much for your message, I'll do my best to give you a useful answer!

As I studied Russian from scratch at Oxford, I didn't need any prior knowledge of the language, so I'll leave Russian out of my answer for now.

For Spanish, I studied this at A Level, which meant that I had read one book in Spanish as part of the curriculum, but I read six other books in Spanish that weren't on the curriculum to show that I had explored the subject. Now I was quite a late applicant, so I read those within a VERY short time period (about 3 weeks before submitting my application) - I don't recommend doing that hahaha. I also noted down in my personal statement three movies by an independent Spanish director whom I really admired and very briefly discussed those - which reminds me, don't be afraid to talk about cinema and art! As long as you are genuinely interested and can discuss the historical context of each work, then it's a great thing to add in to your statement.

As part of the UK A Level curriculum, you do have to write an essay in the language, so I think it would be a good idea to start writing in French independently, and enter competitions if possible - or set up an extra-curricular/after school group in your school that is related to French, like 'French creative writing' or 'French creative translation' group - that sort of thing would go down REALLY well on an Oxbridge application. There is a 'French flash fiction competition' held by Oxford for school students (although I'm not sure if entry is exclusive to UK students). You'd have to explore writing opportunities in Australia and see what is available to you, but the more language-related things that you go out of your way to do, the better it looks on your application. Plus, a lot of those competitions have fairly meaty prizes! :wink:

Lastly, if you get to interviews, the most important thing is to know the texts that you have mentioned in your personal statement really well (when I say that, I mean knowing the dates they were published, the dates the authors were born and died, the opening and ending lines, all the themes and historical contexts, etc. - just everything haha, better safe than sorry!).

In terms of feeling inadequate - don't. You have plenty of time to shape up your application (At this point in the year when I was applying, I thought I was going to study English at Cambridge, and then did a complete U-turn around April). As long as you have fairly good grades in all your subjects, then at the moment there's nothing to worry about. The only thing I would say is that if you do apply to study French, you should really feel passionate about it. I personally believe that this is the deciding factor for Oxbridge admissions tutors. They recognise that not everyone has the same opportunities and they take that into account, but if you aren't genuinely passionate about French, they will be able to see that. Also, it's a really intense course, so being truly passionate about the subject makes the whole experience a lot more bearable!

If you are interested in further support by the way, I run a business which provides online language tutoring and support for students applying to study languages at Oxbridge. It's called LinguaTute :smile: (might be easiest to find us on FB, Instagram or LinkedIn and reach out there if you are interested).

I hope I managed to answer your question, if there's anything I said that you would like me to expand on or if you have any more questions then please don't hesitate to ask! :smile:


What a thoroughly helpful reply! Can I ask what A Level subjects you did & grades achieved and do you have to take the admissions tests for studying languages? Thank you 😊
Original post by ilovelemons
What a thoroughly helpful reply! Can I ask what A Level subjects you did & grades achieved and do you have to take the admissions tests for studying languages? Thank you 😊


Thanks! I'm glad you found it helpful :smile:

Sure - I studied Spanish (A), English Literature (A*), and Religious Studies (A) at A Level (I also took AS Level Maths).

And yes - for languages, you have to take the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT). The exact tests you will need to take depend on which course you are applying for.
1. For any language you are applying to study post-A-Level (e.g. in my case this was Spanish), you'll need to take a 30-minute grammar test for that language.
2. If you are applying to study a language ab initio/from scratch (e.g. in my case this was Russian) you'll need to take the Language Aptitude Test (LAT). We have a helpful article on this here: https://linguatute.com/oxford-admissions-tests-a-quick-guide-to-the-lat-language-aptitude-test/ and you can find past LAT papers here: https://linguatute.com/oxbridge-resources/

Which languages are you thinking of applying for? :smile:
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hey! :smile: That's a really great question, and there's no single answer but I'll try to provide you with insight on how you might best approach this.

1) Language.
Basically, you're applying to study Italian from scratch, so technically you're not required to know much in terms of language, but you do need to be able to explain why you want to study it. For me, one of the main reasons I wanted to study Russian was because of the language itself, so I learned the Russian alphabet, a number of conversational phrases and some basic grammar. However, some of my classmates had a surprisingly low level of Russian (they didn't even know the Cyrillic alphabet when they started attending Oxford!) - that said, they were from top private schools and probably had lots of support with their applications, so I wouldn't base your preparation on that.

I've just read the following on Oxford University's Italian page: "we do expect students wanting to study Italian from scratch to have done some preparation on their own before they start the Oxford course" - Honestly, based on this, I would say there's no harm in trying to learn Italian up to about an A2/B1 standard. If I had to put a percentage on how much time you should spend on language vs other areas of study, I'd say focus about 30% of your energy on language, and 70% on other things like literature, art, film, culture. This is based on the large emphasis that Oxford places on literature - during the final year, language comprises a very small part of the course and final examinations.

Another thing - do NOT forget about the importance of translation. Translation is a core part of the MML and Classics courses across all four years at Oxford, and tutors would like to see that you have at least thought about the importance of translation in language studies. You don't have to be an expert, but I would suggest reading up a bit on translation theories and the art of translation. Additionally, I would strongly recommend anyone applying to study languages to take part in the Anthea Bell Translation Competition held by the Queen's Translation Exchange (application window closes 3rd of April) - unfortunately this is only for UK schools currently. However, the Queen's Translation Exchange also hosts a range of both in-person and online events which I would highly recommend looking into!

Actually I've just remembered a book which might really suit you - it's called Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher. There's a very interesting discussion on colour in ancient texts and how modern translators have justified their translations of colour in these texts - definitely worth a read if you're studying Classics! There's also 'Is that a fish in your ear' by David Bellos, which I personally found a bit less accessible than Deutscher, but idk, you might enjoy it!

2) Literature
It is important to at least be aware of the major authors in the target language. For Italian, this would obviously be writers like Italo Calvino, Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, Pirandello, etc. However, don't fall into the trap of thinking that Oxford tutors just want to hear about these - they genuinely want to see your passion and interests shine through, so if you're passionate about a slightly more niche work (should still be by a highly acclaimed author), then by all means pursue that. It would be great if you could find a particular style, genre or author which you really enjoy and then deep dive into that, because Oxford highly values the ability to thoroughly research an area of study.

Let's take an example of finding a niche and researching it: let's say you're interested in one particular historical period - first, conduct some basic research on that period (what came before, what came after?); second, read some texts written during or shortly after that period (how do they reflect the circumstances in which they were written?); third, explore the artistic context of that period - this could include watching films which were made during or shortly after that period; fourth, if possible try to attend some academic webinars/events which discuss this period. If you want to put the cherry on top, you could read some critical analyses or comparisons of the texts which you read from that period (secondary reading), as this is also a huge part of the Oxford language degree course.

3) Culture, art & film
If you are interested in Italian culture, art or film - don't be afraid to mention this in your application. Just be prepared to talk about it in depth! That goes for anything you mention on your personal statement. I mentioned 3 films I had watched which were made after the fall of Franco's dictatorship in Spain and explained why I enjoyed them, I also mentioned Gaudi's architecture as I was really into this at the time.

4) History
If you aren't particularly interested in Italian history, that's perfectly fine. To be honest, I wasn't hugely invested in Spanish or Russian history (I was more interested in language and literature) when I was applying. That said, just to be safe, I printed off about 20-30 pages from Wikipedia's 'History of Spain' and 'History of Russia' (I think I just copy and pasted the bits that looked most interesting and relevant at a glance), then I read through that and highlighted key dates/people. This came in handy because then I could point to specific dates which were relevant to the literature we discussed in my interview. You certainly don't have to be a history expert, but I just did that because I was determined to prepare as much as possible!

Now with all that said, the ONLY thing you should take away from all this is that you need to find what YOU enjoy most and explore that. Interviewers can tell immediately if you're not passionate about something. It will also make the interview way more enjoyable if you're talking about your own interests and passions! I really loved finally being able to geek out about Spanish and Russian in my interviews (because I couldn't really do that with my friends). Man, Oxford really is wonderful :smile: I wish you all the very best with your (potential) application!!

P.S. I also wrote two in-depth blog posts on how to approach wider reading as a language applicant to Oxbridge - just google 'LinguaTute Wider Reading for Oxbridge' and it should come up!

Let me know if you have any further questions :smile:


Hiya! It's me again, I'm afraid! For the literature bit, should I be reading the English version of Italian books, or can I read English books to do with Italy (e.g. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway)? Or maybe a bit of both? If I should be reading Italian books, would a modern author such as Elena Ferrante work? Or can I look at older authors too?
Original post by RedVelvet16
Hiya! It's me again, I'm afraid! For the literature bit, should I be reading the English version of Italian books, or can I read English books to do with Italy (e.g. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway)? Or maybe a bit of both? If I should be reading Italian books, would a modern author such as Elena Ferrante work? Or can I look at older authors too?


Hi! Apologies for my delay in getting back to you. The last couple of weeks have been insanely busy!

I would suggest reading English versions of Italian books, because at the end of the day this is what you would be studying on the undergraduate degree course - not English books about Italy. However, there is no harm in reading English books about Italy and talking about this on your personal statement, as this does demonstrate your interest in Italian culture and history, but just remember that the priority should always be books originally written in Italian.

In terms of modern authors vs older authors, Oxford is much more inclined towards the latter. I don't think I studied a single contemporary author (i.e. an author who was still alive, or had written a book after about 1960) during my time there. However, that's not to say that you shouldn't read any contemporary books, especially if you are passionate about them. I would just encourage you to read some of the older classics as well.

I am not very familiar with Elena Ferrante - is she highly respected in the academic community? The problem with modern authors is that a lot of them can be seen as writing 'trashy' entertainment novels, with little academic value, so that's why I would usually recommend avoiding them. I just had a look at the list of Nobel Prize winners for Literature and can see that there are three fairly modern authors from Italy included - Dario Fo, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Eugenio Montale. Again I'm not familiar with Italian literature so I have not read any of them and can't really recommend them, but these would be examples of modern literature that you could explore, as they are clearly academically respected.

I hope that all makes sense, let me know if there's anything you'd like me to explain more :smile:
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Just following this up, the recording of the taster session is now available here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFMmCFpn4as - for anyone who would like to watch a FREE one-hour lesson on 'Madame Bovary' (by Gustave Flaubert) taught by a PhD student at Oxford! It's really informative and particularly useful if you're interested in applying to study French at Oxford or Cambridge.

Enjoy!


In case anyone was interested in booking a place on our French Literature Course, I just wanted to mention that the booking window closes on the 14th of July at 12:00am (midnight), so make sure that you book before then! It's a really great opportunity to explore a range of French literature with an excellent teacher so do check out the course page to find out more if you're interested!

Course page: https ://linguatute. com/online-french-literature-course/ (remove the spaces before '://' and 'com' for the URL to work!)

There are only 5 places left available to book - so again, if you would like to attend the course, please do book sooner rather than later!!

Thanks everyone :smile:
I’m very concerned how the ELAT test will be done this year as it’s now computer based. I’m a slow typer and I do better when I actually write in tests so it’s not looking good for me now.
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hi! Apologies for my delay in getting back to you. The last couple of weeks have been insanely busy!

I would suggest reading English versions of Italian books, because at the end of the day this is what you would be studying on the undergraduate degree course - not English books about Italy. However, there is no harm in reading English books about Italy and talking about this on your personal statement, as this does demonstrate your interest in Italian culture and history, but just remember that the priority should always be books originally written in Italian.

In terms of modern authors vs older authors, Oxford is much more inclined towards the latter. I don't think I studied a single contemporary author (i.e. an author who was still alive, or had written a book after about 1960) during my time there. However, that's not to say that you shouldn't read any contemporary books, especially if you are passionate about them. I would just encourage you to read some of the older classics as well.

I am not very familiar with Elena Ferrante - is she highly respected in the academic community? The problem with modern authors is that a lot of them can be seen as writing 'trashy' entertainment novels, with little academic value, so that's why I would usually recommend avoiding them. I just had a look at the list of Nobel Prize winners for Literature and can see that there are three fairly modern authors from Italy included - Dario Fo, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Eugenio Montale. Again I'm not familiar with Italian literature so I have not read any of them and can't really recommend them, but these would be examples of modern literature that you could explore, as they are clearly academically respected.

I hope that all makes sense, let me know if there's anything you'd like me to explain more :smile:

Thank you for the reply -- super useful! I think maybe I'll do some poetry and talk a bit about translation rather than too many novels.
Joining onto the topic of what kind of books are suitable to be reading- I have a copy of the french translated Harry Potter (book 2) which I do find quite interesting because of how the translator had to adapt to magical words and english word play BUT also recognize it’s neither a classic nor an original french novel, so I’m worried mentioning it wouldn’t make tutors think highly of me. Should I stop reading this and instead move on to one of the ‘actual’ french classics I own? Admittedly I haven’t looked into poetry much but this is probably something I should do.

Also to clarify, for applying for post A-level languages, the assumption is that you’re reading books in the target language yes? Or have I gotten this wrong?
Hey everyone - I’m applying for English and Beginner’s Portuguese at either St Peter’s or Worcester!
Original post by closetarchivist
Joining onto the topic of what kind of books are suitable to be reading- I have a copy of the french translated Harry Potter (book 2) which I do find quite interesting because of how the translator had to adapt to magical words and english word play BUT also recognize it’s neither a classic nor an original french novel, so I’m worried mentioning it wouldn’t make tutors think highly of me. Should I stop reading this and instead move on to one of the ‘actual’ french classics I own? Admittedly I haven’t looked into poetry much but this is probably something I should do.

Also to clarify, for applying for post A-level languages, the assumption is that you’re reading books in the target language yes? Or have I gotten this wrong?


Heya,

I do agree that the French translation of Harry Potter is fascinating - in fact, we have an article about this very topic on our LinguaTute blog! However, as it is a book that was originally written in English, I wouldn't recommend spending too much more time on it and would instead recommend focusing on the French classics if you haven't read many of them yet!

Re: poetry - there's absolutely no harm in looking into French poetry and seeing if this is your cup of tea, however if you decide that it's not for you, then - as always - I would suggest moving on and finding texts that you are really passionate about (ideally classics), since interviewers can always tell if you're saying you like a text just because you think that's what they want to hear.

In terms of which language to read the texts in - yes, ideally you will be reading them in French. Interviewers will understand if you struggled with reading them in the original language (of course!), and it's completely fine if you need to read them side-by-side with a translation, but you should certainly be giving it a go! The Modern Languages degree at Oxford requires you to read many texts in the original language, so they will want to see not just your ability to read texts in French, but also your eagerness and interest in doing so!

I hope this is useful! :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
Hey everyone - I’m applying for English and Beginner’s Portuguese at either St Peter’s or Worcester!


Hey,

Super exciting stuff! Welcome to the group :smile:

How are you feeling about your application? Do you have any questions at this point?

Best of luck with everything :smile:
Original post by Ffion_Kellegher
Hi everyone!

I am setting up this thread to act as a space for students who are applying, or considering applying, to study languages at the University of Oxford.

I am an Oxford graduate I studied Russian and Spanish at Christ Church College. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an Oxford student and I would like to support others in their applications to study languages at Oxford.

Feel free to post any questions or concerns that you may have surrounding the application process I will do my best to answer them 😊

P.S.
I am also developing some online foreign literature courses, which will be taught by a PhD student at Oxford or Cambridge. The aim of these will be to support Oxbridge language applicants to explore the literature of their target language, studying elements of translation, style, historical context, etc. with the help of an Oxbridge-educated expert. If you are interested in joining a course, please either message me in this thread or visit the LinguaTute website and reach out to me there :smile: Thanks!


Just wanted to remind everyone that the open day for Oxford is TOMORROW! You will have the chance to visit colleges, meet the Modern Languages tutors and go to MML talks held in the Taylorian library and in Wellington Square.

I will be setting up my LinguaTute stall and handing out flyers outside the Taylorian library from 10:00-16:00, feel free to come say hi if you're going to be in Oxford tomorrow!
Hi, I'm applying to Somerville for English and French. I've done my written work and will be submitting it once I apply and hear from Somerville about how, but the Oxford website has confused me it says that all written work should be in English except for that for a modern language, and that work not in English should be translated. So should my French essay, in French, for French, be sent on its own or with a translation? I tried to ring Admissions but found out that it's not a real phone line anymore hahah
Original post by hliteraturebabe
Hi, I'm applying to Somerville for English and French. I've done my written work and will be submitting it once I apply and hear from Somerville about how, but the Oxford website has confused me it says that all written work should be in English except for that for a modern language, and that work not in English should be translated. So should my French essay, in French, for French, be sent on its own or with a translation? I tried to ring Admissions but found out that it's not a real phone line anymore hahah

no, it should be in french and you don't need a translation for it, that's in the situation of international applicants who don't study in English. ofc email admissions if you want to better clarify.

Quick Reply