Going to university?

Studying or incorporating languages into your degree is a really good choice to make. We all know how important languages are; the obvious reason is that you develop amazing skills that set you up for life. But there is more to languages than that... by speaking a foreign language you can meet new people from different cultures, you can travel to some far flung place and even get an amazing job anywhere in the world.

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What can I study?

There is so much choice and flexibility when studying a language at university. You have the choice to study the language on its own, with another language or with other subjects. The degree combinations are extreme - ever thought of a language degree with Anthropology, Maths, Drama, Forensic Science or Music? You can also start a new language completely from scratch with a wide variety of languages on offer including German, Italian, Japanese and Arabic!

Good move:

”Languages represent a high level of communication skills, the ability to work independently and show you are mature, confident and can easily adapt to different situations and cultures.”

Will learning a language at uni be useful?

Just incorporating a language into your degree can set yourself ahead of the rest when applying for jobs once uni is over. Studying languages shows a high level of communication skills, the ability to work independently and that you are mature, confident and can easily adapt to different situations and cultures. These skills are essential in the multicultural, global society that we live in.

How do I choose my course?

It can be a nightmare trying to figure out which course to apply for with such variety and flexibility in the courses on offer. Never choose a course based solely on the university’s location. Your decision should come from a number of factors.

To help decide what courses to take make a list of languages that you know, languages that you’d like to speak and other subjects that you enjoy learning about. By creating a shortlist you’ll be in a better place to start searching for courses - there are so many out there that delving straight in will take you a lifetime to work your way through.

Prospectuses

Prospectuses are really useful for seeing how each university combines different subjects together and what units or topics you may study in your degree. You can request or download them from uni websites or there may be some available at your college. Each language offered at that uni has a section showing which other languages and subjects can be combined with it.

Handy hint:

”To help decide what courses to take make a list of languages that you know, languages that you’d like to speak and other subjects that you enjoy learning about.”

UCAS course search

Use the UCAS website to search for courses - you can search by different subject areas. A top tip for this is to search for all languages in all the regions. This will list all language degrees - whether they are just a single language course or combined with another language or subject. You may even find combinations that you hadn’t originally thought of. Getting a clearer picture of what’s available is really important so as not to feel swamped by the world of university!

Open days

University fairs and open days are a good way to get a feel for what uni is like and to speak to current students and staff. University fairs are held regularly throughout the country and university open days tend to be in the summer months of your AS year before you need to start applying for courses. Visit as many open days as possible. Nothing is set in stone yet, so there is no harm in looking at all the departments and subjects that are on your shortlist - it’s great to get a clear idea of how the same or similar courses are structured and laid out at different universities. A single honours Spanish degree could really vary between universities - some universities may teach more cultural and historical units, others focus on literature and others on linguistics - some may cover them all equally. It is really important to notice the units that are covered - there is no point choosing a course based on location when the units don't appeal to you.

Top tip:

”It is really important to notice the units that are covered - there is no point choosing a course based on location when the units don't appeal to you.”

There are students on hand to answer any questions you might have and give you the inside scoop on what uni life is really like. Make sure you ask any questions you have - even if they seem silly. Personal interaction can be more helpful than trawling through website upon website. Students can answer queries you have about courses, and even open your mind up to something that you hadn’t previously considered.

You can tour the department, campus, accommodation and the town. Knowing what academic facilities there are is also an important factor when choosing a course and university. Most universities have a language resource centre (check it caters for your language) - basically a library dedicated to languages where you can find text books, dictionaries, DVDs and computer software to help you with independent learning.

Year abroad

One thing to bear in mind when considering a language degree is the third year. A language degree is 4 years long, as you spend the third year abroad in a foreign country. You can study, work or be a teaching assistant. The great thing about the year abroad is the chance for you to use your language in your daily life and you can also meet new people and travel to new places. You'll have many new cultural experiences, such as eating local food, visiting places you'd never heard of and celebrating local traditions.

Sound advice:

”A language based degree at university is probably the best choice you could make.”

The Erasmus scheme is organised by the EU so not only will you get to live abroad and speak in a foreign language for the whole year but you’ll also receive, in addition to your normal student loan, a grant to help with your traveling and living costs whilst abroad. And there are no tuition fees to pay whilst you’re an Erasmus student or working within the EU.

Most universities have links to other parts of the world if you fancy going outside of Europe. Who can’t see themselves lying on a beach in Brazil, learning the Tango in Argentina or snowboarding in Canada!

Our Studying Languages at university website has loads more info on the year abroad as well as videos and personal experiences to prepare you for the time of your life at uni.