All posts by Schools Liaison

Oxford Is Open!

Come and visit us this summer to discover what student life at Oxford is really like.

After two years of online open days, Oxford is once again ready to welcome prospective applicants and their companions! Regardless of which universities you are interested in studying at, open days are an important opportunity for you to get a feel for the cities and/or campuses in which you might be spending three of four years. We recommend visiting lots of different universities if you can to find out which places make you feel most at home.

Here at Oxford, we have University-wide Open Days running on Wednesday 29 June, Thursday 30 June and Friday 16 September. These days offer an ideal opportunity for you to explore Oxford, find out more about our courses, tour colleges and quiz our tutors and current students.

It will be busy and you will probably leave feeling that there just wasn’t enough time, but you will also have a really good idea of Oxford and whether it might be the university for you. The secret to open days is definitely planning, so do explore all the information given here.

It is not mandatory to register for an Oxford Open Day, although we strongly recommend that you do in order to receive our university newsletters, full of top tips on how to make the most of your day.

The Taylor Institution Library (commonly known as the Taylorian) 

In terms of Modern Languages, we will be running sessions across these days in the Taylor Institution Librarybetween 10:30am and 3:30pm. These will be a great opportunity to learn about our Modern Languages courses, talk to our tutors from our different languages, tour the Taylorian, and pick up prospectuses.

We do not take bookings for these sessions, but places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. You can take a look at the programme here for more details.

We look forward to welcoming lots of you to Oxford and the Modern Languages Faculty very soon!

The Stephen Spender Prize 2022

The Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation, in association with The Guardian, is now open for entries. Anybody in the UK and Ireland can enter, regardless of age or linguistic skill. The Stephen Spender Trust’s (SST) Resources hub is full of virtual resources to make the prize accessible from home, as well as teaching packs to bring poetry translation into the classroom.

This year, the prize is more inclusive and vibrant than ever, from British Sign Language translation to new prizes for first-time entrants. SST’s virtual poetry booklets collect together poems in more than 17 languages.

SST Director Charlotte Ryland:

“Poetry translation is a perfect activity for these challenging times: it is a gentle and structured approach to creativity, without the intimidating blank page that can put off many would-be poets; it is an opportunity for parents and children to work together, in particular in families where more than one language is spoken; and it is a task that can be shared with peers and teachers.”

This year’s judges are acclaimed poets, translators and educators Khairani Barokka, Daljit Nagra and Samantha Schnee.

Khairani Barokka, Daljit Nagra and Samantha Schnee

Closing date: 15 July 2022

  • Categories: Open (adult), 18-and-under, 16-and-under, 14-and-under
  • Top prize of £1,000
  • All winning entries published in the 2022 Stephen Spender Prize booklet
  • Special ‘Spotlight’ prize for translation from Romanian, judged by Gabi Reigh

Full details on the SST website. Good luck to all participants!

We’re Back!

We hope you all had a restful break with family and friends over the last couple of weeks, whether you were observing religious traditions or hunting for chocolate in the garden (or both!)

Here at Oxford, Trinity term is already underway and it looks to be another busy one, albeit much sunnier than the last!

To ease us back into the new term, here are a few exciting events and opportunities to get involved in over the next couple of weeks!

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Modern Languages Subject Day – Tuesday 10th May, Exeter College

If you are a Year 11 or 12 student who is interested in exploring your options for University, then this day is perfect for you! This Subject Day will include opportunities to experience sessions in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. 

To register for your place, please fill out this form, which should take around 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The deadline to apply is Tuesday 3rd May at 9am.

If you have any questions, please contact outreach@exeter.ox.ac.uk.

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Songs We Learn From Trees – Thursday 5th May, The Queen’s College

On Thursday 5th May, at 4:30-8pm, the Queen’s Translation Exchange are running an in-person workshop and readings based on Songs We Learn from Trees, the first anthology of Amharic poetry in English.

Sign up here to attend!

Sign up for free here to discuss and celebrate Ethiopian poetry in an evening of readings by Ethiopian poets and their translator, followed by a drinks reception.

The event will feature the following poets:

  • Misrak Terefe
  • Bedilu Wakjira
  • Kebedech Tekleab
  • Alemu Tebeje
  • Hama Tuma [virtually]
  • Mihret Kibede [virtually]

with translator and anthology editor, Chris Beckett.

The poets will read from their own and other poets’ work in the anthology, as well as answer any questions the audience may have about the thriving poetry scene in Addis Ababa.

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Modern Languages Open Day – Saturday 7th May, Examination Schools

There’s still a week left to sign up to attend our in-person Open Day at the Examination Schools, here in Oxford.

The Open Day will offer an overview of our modern languages courses and a general Q&A for prospective students in the morning, with individual language sessions and a companions’ Q&A session occurring in the afternoon. Academics, current students and members of staff from the Faculty will all be in attendance to answer your questions and give invaluable insight into studying languages at Oxford. You can view the full event programme here.

Please note that booking for this event is compulsory – you can register your attendance here

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Modern Languages Summer School – 15th-19th August, Wadham College

Wadham’s annual Summer School programme is an excellent opportunity for Year 12 state school pupils to be an Oxford languages student for a week.

Students on Wadham’s Modern Languages Summer School, taken from Wadham College’s website

Throughout the week, pupils will take part in an academic programme, live in College, meet student ambassadors studying at Oxford, and receive information, advice and guidance on applying to university. 

The Summer School is completely free and Wadham will provide financial support to pupils to cover any travel costs.

You can find out more information and the application form here. Applications are currently open and the deadline to submit is Friday 3rd June at 5pm.

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Faculty Open Day Reminder

It’s not too late to register your place at our Modern Languages Open Day at the beautiful Examination Schools (75 – 81 High St, Oxford OX1 4BG) on Saturday 7th May!

We’re so excited to be able to hold this event in person again and to welcome prospective students and their families/teachers to Oxford after two long years, and can’t wait to see as many of you there as possible!

The Voltaire Reading Room in the Taylor Institution, the University’s centre for the study of Modern European languages and literatures

As a reminder, our Modern Languages Open Day will cover ALL nine of the languages we offer here at Oxford: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, Czech, and Polish. Most of our Joint School degree subjects will also be represented. The event is aimed primarily at Year 12 students and their parents/guardians/teachers, but Year 11 students who are starting to consider their options are equally welcome to attend.

The Open Day will offer an overview of our Modern Languages courses and a general Q&A for prospective students in the morning, with individual language sessions and a companions’ Q&A session occurring in the afternoon. Academics, current students and members of staff from the Faculty will all be in attendance to answer your questions and give invaluable insight into studying Languages at Oxford.

You can view the full event programme here.

Please note that booking for this event is compulsory – you can register your attendance here. Due to restricted places, only one parent/guardian/teacher may accompany each student for the morning session.

We look forward to seeing lots of you soon!

Modern Languages Summer School

Calling all Year 12 French, German and Spanish students from UK state schools – an exciting opportunity awaits!

Wadham College are running their annual Modern Languages Summer School in Oxford from Monday 15th August to Friday 19th August 2022. This is a wonderful opportunity for Year 12 students who are interested in pursuing a degree in Languages to get a feel for life at university and at Oxford more specifically.

Throughout the week, pupils will take part in an academic programme, live in College, meet student ambassadors studying at Oxford, and receive information, advice and guidance on applying to university. 

This Summer School is completely free and Wadham will provide financial support to pupils to cover any travel costs.

Students on Wadham’s Modern Languages Summer School, taken from Wadham College’s website

In terms of the academic programme, pupils will engage in a seminar series led by Wadham’s language tutors, including language classes in their selected language of study (French, German or Spanish) with opportunities to try other languages as beginners (including German, Portuguese and Russian).  They will also complete an assignment on a main topic with feedback from tutors.  Pupils will also be able to receive support from current undergraduates and from the College on making successful applications to top universities.

Students talking to a Wadham Student Ambassador, taken from Wadham College’s website

Wadham are delighted to be able to run this Summer School event in-person, allowing participants the best experience of life at the university. The feedback from last year’s Summer Schools was hugely positive with a third of participants subsequently securing offers to study at the university.

You can find out more information and the application form here. Applications are currently open and the deadline to submit is Friday 3rd June at 5pm.

Don’t miss out on the chance to be an Oxford student for a week!

Last Chance to Enter our Flash Fiction Competitions!

With just over one week to go until the deadline, there’s still a chance to enter our Flash Fiction Competitions in French and/or Spanish – don’t miss out on your chance to win £100! A reminder of the competition details and how you can enter can be found below…

What is Flash Fiction?

We’re looking for a complete story, written in French or Spanish, using NO MORE THAN 100 WORDS.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What are the judges looking for?

We’ll be looking for imagination and narrative flair, as well as your ability to write in French or Spanish. Your use of French or Spanish will be considered in the context of your age and year group: in other words, we will not expect younger pupils to compete against older pupils linguistically. For inspiration, you can read last year’s winning entries for French here, and for Spanish here.

What do I win?

There are two categories: Years 7-11 and Years 12-13. A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category, with runner-up prizes of £25. The winning entries will be published on this blog, if you give us permission to do so.

How do I enter?

The deadline for submissions is noon on Thursday 31st March 2022. If you would like to submit a story in French, please do so via our online submission portal here. If you would like to submit a story in Spanish, please do so here.

You may only submit one story per language but you are welcome to submit one story in French AND one story in Spanish if you would like to. Your submission should be uploaded as a Word document or PDF.

Please note that, because of GDPR, teachers cannot enter on their students’ behalf: students must submit their entries themselves.

If you have any questions, please email us at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.

Bonne chance à tous! ¡Buena suerte a todos!

Modern Languages Open Day – Book Now!

It has been wonderful to meet so many students (both virtually and in person) at our language-specific open days over the past few weeks. However, we are delighted to be able to welcome prospective students to Oxford for our Modern Languages Open Day on Saturday 7th May. The event will be held at the Examination Schools, located on the High Street.

This event is a fantastic opportunity for students who were unable to attend our more recent open days, or for those who are interested in learning about our other language courses, as this Open Day will cover ALL of our languages: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, Czech, and Polish. Most of our Joint School degrees will also be represented at the event.

Students working in the Taylor Institution, the University’s centre for the study of Modern European languages and literatures

The Modern Languages Open Day is aimed primarily at Year 12 students and their parents/guardians/teachers, but Year 11 students who are starting to consider their options are equally welcome to attend. The Open Day will offer an overview of our Modern Languages courses and a general Q&A for prospective students in the morning, with individual language sessions and a parents’/guardians’/teachers’ Q&A session occurring in the afternoon. You can view the full event programme here.

Booking for this event is compulsory – you can register your attendance here. Please note that, due to restricted places, only one parent/guardian/teacher may accompany each student for the morning session.

We look forward to seeing lots of you in May and welcoming you to the Modern Languages Faculty here in Oxford!

MFL Teachers – we need you!

Here at Oxford, the Modern Languages Schools Liaison Team are looking to expand our teachers’ mailing list so that we can connect with and reach out to more schools across the UK.

We use our mailing list to send round semi-regular newsletters about upcoming events, outreach activities and opportunities for schools, such as Open Days, Study Days and one-off workshops. These are all related to Modern Languages and designed to promote the study of languages in schools so don’t worry, you will never be spammed with irrelevant content.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

If you’re an MFL teacher, we would love for you to join our mailing list so we can keep you up-to-date with all the wonderful languages-related events and activities occurring at Oxford! If you’re already part of our mailing list, please do let you teacher friends and colleagues know about the list and how to sign up.

Signing up is really easy – all you need to do is email us at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk. We’ve even drafted an email template for you to use to speed up the process:

Dear Schools Liaison Team,

My name is [insert name here] and I am an MFL Teacher at [insert school name here]. I would like to join your teachers’ mailing list and formally give my consent for you to hold my data for the purposes outlined below.

GDPR compliance statement: We are working to comply with the terms of the General Data Protection Regulations, and as such we want to ensure that you are aware of the ways in which we will be using/holding your data. We will hold the details you have provided to us (name, e-mail address, school name) in a secure environment, and will use them to send information by e-mail related to Modern Languages Schools Liaison at the University of Oxford. We will not pass these details on to external companies or individuals. We will hold the data until such time as you may ask to be removed from the lists – you may unsubscribe at any time and if/when you do so all the data you have provided will be deleted from our system.

Many thanks and best wishes,
[Insert name here]

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We look forward to welcoming you and your colleagues to our ever-growing network of MFL teachers!

Calling all literature lovers!

In this week’s blog post, our colleagues from The Queen’s College share details of their next International Book Club meeting – a really wonderful opportunity for school students to engage with literature from around the world!

The International Book Club is a chance for pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13/S4-6 to explore foreign language books which have been translated into English with other like-minded, literature-loving students. We meet once a term to discuss a foreign language book in English translation, so knowledge of the original language is required to take part. The meeting will take place over Zoom and newcomers are always welcome!

For those of you thinking that you may like to study languages at university, there will also be a chance to hear more about what this would entail and to ask us your questions. These meetings are a perfect opportunity for you to explore books that aren’t on your school syllabus and to engage with some exciting literature in translation.  

To take part in the International Book Club, you will need to read a copy of the set book in advance of the session. You may like to make some notes on what you’ve read ­– for example, the key themes of the text, things you liked or disliked about the narrative or characters – that you would like to share during the Book Club. 

Book cover image taken from Blackwell’s website

Our next session will be held on Wednesday 23rd March at 7pm, and we will be reading A Long Way from Douala by Swiss-Cameroonian author Max Lobe, translated by Ros Schwartz from French – and occasionally from Camfranglais, a mixture of French, (Pidgin) English, and indigenous Cameroonian languages including Beti-Fang, Bamileke and Duala, spoken mainly by young people in Cameroon. As we follow the narrator, Jean, and his best friend Simon across the country in search of a runaway older brother hoping to make it as a professional footballer in Europe, the book addresses weighty contemporary issues of migration, terrorism, and sexuality without ever losing its sense of humour.

If you would like to attend the book club, please register your interest by completing this Google form.

If you have any questions about the Book Club, please let us know! You can email us (translation.exchange@ox.ac.uk), or find us on Twitter.

***Please note that if we are oversubscribed for the International Book Club and are required to limit the numbers of attendees, we will select participants based on the contextual data they provide, giving priority to students attending UK state schools.*** 

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A reminder that we are still taking bookings for our Italian and Russian & Slavonic Languages Open Days, both taking place on Saturday 5th March. You can book your place here – don’t miss out on the chance to learn more about these exciting courses!

5 Reasons Why I Love My Joint Schools Degree…

…and Why You Might Too!

2nd year Spanish & History student at Balliol College, Georgie, explains why she loves her choice of degree course and why others might want to follow in her footsteps. Take it away Georgie!

At the age of 15 or 16, I’d always feel a mild degree of panic when asked the question “What do you want to study at uni?” It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the various subjects available to study at university, especially if you enjoy a wide variety of the subjects you take at school.

I studied the International Baccalaureate in Sixth Form, in which you take six subjects, so the thought of narrowing down to a single specialism felt very alien to me. But I soon came across the option to study a Joint Schools degree (also called a “Combined Honours” degree at some unis), and this seemed like a very attractive deal.

At Oxford, it is possible to take a Modern Language alongside a Humanities subject – Classics, English, History, Philosophy or Linguistics. This is a four-year course, with one year spent abroad, in which prelims (the first year) doesn’t count towards your degree, and your final exams take place at the end of your fourth year.

Balliol Hall from Fellows’ Garden – taken from Balliol’s website

I’m midway through my second year at Balliol studying History and Spanish, and I absolutely love my degree, but I still believe that Joint Schools studies are notoriously mysterious. Read on as I try to bring some clarity to the subject…here are 5 reasons why I love my Joint Schools degree:

1. Breadth of Study

Taking a Modern Language and a Humanities subject means you take roughly half of the courses that a single-honours language student takes, and half the courses that a single-honours humanities student takes. Your modules are taken from the two distinct schools. A first-year taking History and Modern Languages, for example, would study two history papers, two foreign literature papers, and two language papers.

Studying two subjects automatically doubles the number and variety of modules available to you.  The courses for both languages and humanities are extremely rich and there is a huge degree of freedom to explore your interests and choose your specialisms.

As a joint-schooler, I can access all the History modules offered to single-school students, and, since I take half of what they do, I do not have bend my studies around period or geographical requirements.

Photo by Benigno Hoyuela on Unsplash

While straight History pupils must, at some point in their degree, study both “British Isles” and “European and World” papers from a range of different historical eras (early modern, 20th century, early medieval, etc.), joint schoolers have more freedom to choose not to study certain periods or geographical areas. As a joint-schooler, it is possible, for example, not to study a British History course during your entire time at Oxford.

2. Studying One Enriches the Study of the Other

While modules are taken from the two distinct schools, and do not explicitly blend the subjects, studying one subject really enriches the study of the other. The skills learnt in taking a modern language, such as rigorous literary analysis and attention to detail, can be applied to great benefit in the study of your other subject. Equally, studying humanities modules can bring perspective to your reading of foreign literature, as well as greater awareness of socio-political concerns.

It is possible to choose modules from different subjects which complement each other. To give two concrete examples:

A Classics paper, “The Latin Works of Petrarch”, could be taken alongside “Medieval Italian Literature: 1220-1430″.

Or a History paper, “Enlightenment and Revolutions: 1650-1850″, could be taken alongside the French “Modern Prescribed Authors I”, specialising in Voltaire and Diderot.

The lateral links to be made in blending the two schools are extremely exciting.

3. It’s Impossible to be Bored

As you might have guessed by now, it is virtually impossible to be bored! If you are the type of person who likes to have multiple subjects to focus on at one time, Joint Schools are perfect due to the breadth of study and the freedom to tailor your course to your interests. It should also be said that the Joint Schools courses are carefully designed so that you have a normal workload! You won’t be bored but you also won’t have unmanageable amounts to do!

In the same day, I might translate a passage from a modern Latin American novel, read up on early medieval representations of gender, or complete an essay analysing a Spanish Golden Age ballad. There is always more to learn and read about; Joint Schools degrees can make you think in new ways and broaden your world outlook.

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

4. You Meet a Wider Variety of People

As a second year, my regular weekly timetable consists of: a history tutorial and/or a literature tutorial, a language tutorial, two language classes, two lectures, and (for this term only) a history seminar. This is the biggest workload I have had so far, and schedules vary greatly over the three years spent in Oxford. 

Classes and lectures are run through the Modern Languages Faculty, and, through these, it is possible to meet students from all over the university. Tutorials may be held either through the college or at another college, where your tutorial partner/s come from a different college. Taking more classes, from different schools, widens the variety of people with whom you interact and makes for a very interesting set of daily conversations!

5. The Year Abroad

A huge attraction for taking Modern Languages is, of course, the Year Abroad. Usually taken in your third year – apart from students of Beginners’ Arabic or Beginners’ Russian who go in their second year – the Year Abroad offers the opportunity to spend some time working in industry, teaching, or studying in a foreign country.

Edificio Metropoli, Gran vía – Madrid, Spain. Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

When studying Modern Languages at Oxford, the norm (but not the rule) is to take two languages. As a joint-schooler taking one language alongside a humanities subject, you can devote your entire year to immersing yourself in your single target language; the opportunity to improve your language skills and culturally enrich your life is unparalleled. When you get back to Oxford, by fourth year, you will have a wealth of experience and cultural knowledge from which to draw upon in your studies!

I can honestly say I love my degree. Studying two subjects – in my case History and Spanish – has meant I’m never bored of work, especially because I can productively spend time searching for places to go on my Year Abroad! If I were to go back in time about 3 or 4 years, I’d tell my past self to stop worrying about trying to choose a single specialism. Each subject offers such a broad variety of choice and an incredible degree of freedom to tailor your studies around your interests.

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Thank you Georgie for that wonderful insight into the joys of a Joint Schools degree course!

A reminder that we are still taking bookings for our Italian and Russian & Slavonic Languages Open Days, both taking place on Saturday 5th March. You can book your place here – don’t miss out on the chance to learn more about these exciting courses!