Category Archives: Applying to study modern languages

Come and Explore Languages at Oxford!

Here at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, we organise and run a range of open days for prospective students and their parents and guardians. Open days are one of the best ways to get a real feel for a University, helping students to make informed decisions about their futures.

Over the course of February and March, we will be holding our language-specific open days, designed to provide greater insight into our undergraduate degree programmes. In comparison to our wider open day in May, language-specific open days are smaller and more focused in their scope, allowing more time to explore a subject in depth.

For example, the German open day offers an introduction to German film, linguistics, and different types of literature. On the Spanish and Portuguese open day, you can explore medieval Iberian literature and learn Portuguese in 15 minutes. The Italian open day will introduce you to Italian literature’s biggest names from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.

So, if you’re thinking about applying to study languages at Oxford, or want to find out more about a particular course, these open days offer a wonderful opportunity to meet some of our tutors and current students, come along to academic taster sessions which will give you a flavour of what it’s like to study languages, and ask lots of questions.

Below are the details of our 2022 language specific open days. You will need to book a place at these events, which you can do via our open day website, where you will also find the event programmes.

  • German: Saturday 19th February, 11am – 3pm, Microsoft Teams
  • Spanish & Portuguese: Friday 25th February, 10am-3pm, St Anne’s College
  • Italian: Saturday 5th March, 11am-1.30pm, Microsoft Teams
  • Russian and Slavonic Languages: Saturday 5th March, further details to be published soon.

You may have noticed that there is no specific open day for French: students interested in French should attend the Faculty’s main open day in May or one of the University open days in July or September. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about those events in future blog posts.

We look forward to having you along to our language-specific open days – don’t forget to book your place!

While you’re here: a reminder that applications to our 2022 UNIQ programme are still open! You can read more about this fantastic opportunity for UK state school students in last week’s blog post, or head to the website for further information.

Apply now!

UNIQ 2022 – Applications now open!

After two years of online delivery, UNIQ 2022 is delighted to be able to welcome Year 12 students back to Oxford! UNIQ 2022 will combine the best aspects of our residential summer school and sustained online programme to offer a hybrid UNIQ programme to 1600 students across the UK. 

UNIQ logo

What is UNIQ?

UNIQ is Oxford University’s flagship outreach programme for Year 12 students at UK state schools/colleges. It is completely free and prioritises places for students with good grades from backgrounds that are under-represented at Oxford and other universities. The UNIQ programme offers a fantastic opportunity for these students to immerse themselves in the Oxford environment, sample some of our teaching, and try out life as an Oxford student.

What does the programme entail?

UNIQ 2022 offers both an in-person residential in Oxford and an online support programme. Taking place over several months, UNIQ starts in April, with academic courses in the summer, followed by university admissions support.

During the summer residential, students have the opportunity to experience life as an Oxford undergraduate by staying in an Oxford college and exploring the city for themselves. They will also get to know some of our Oxford undergraduates and work with our academics in face to face lectures, labs and tutorials.

What does this look like for Modern Languages?

For Modern Languages, there will be courses available for Spanish, French, and German. All three courses enable students to explore the language, literature, theatre, film, and linguistics of each discipline, while also providing the opportunity to have a taster of four other European languages at a beginners’ level.

Our aim is to give students a taste of what it is really like to study Modern Languages at Oxford, and to provide a sense of the breadth of our courses – including several of the languages you can study here as a beginner.

UNIQ student testimony

What are the benefits?

Throughout the UNIQ programme, students will explore subjects they love and gain a real insight into Oxford life, helping them to prepare for university, and decide what is right for them. UNIQ also enables students with similar interests in local regions and across the UK to connect with each other through social and academic activities.

Most UNIQ students go on to apply to the University of Oxford and they also get help to prepare for our admissions tests and interviews. In general, UNIQ students who apply to Oxford have a higher rate of success than other applicants.

How do I apply?

We welcome applications from:

  • Year 12 students from England and Wales, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • Year 13 students from Northern Ireland, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • S5 students from Scotland, studying Highers or equivalent

The online application process is quick and easy – it only takes 15 minutes! – and can be completed via the UNIQ website. Applications close on Monday 7th February at 11pm.

You will need:

  • the name of the school where you did your GCSEs (or equivalent) or your Nationals if you are a Scottish student.
  • the name of your current school.
  • your first and second choice UNIQ courses.
  • your teacher’s surname and email address.
  • a list of your qualifications.

As UNIQ is an access programme, admission to UNIQ 2022 will be based on a range of criteria that relate to students’ academic potential and socio-economic background. You can read more about this here.

UNIQ student testimony

Good luck to all applicants!

ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS 2021

Modern Languages admissions interviews are happening next week, and for the second year in a row they’ll all be happening online via Microsoft Teams. Here is an outline of the general format of Modern Languages interviews but you should be aware that practice can vary a little between colleges. It is worth bearing in mind that the interview is not designed to trick you or make you stumble: it aims to stretch you intellectually and give the tutors an insight into the way you think and your motivation for applying for the degree.

The Format

  • You will have at least two interviews, possibly more, each lasting around twenty minutes. This is so that you have ‘two bites of the apple’, as it were. We know that candidates commonly get nervous during interviews and may not always feel they have performed at their best. Having two interviews gives you two chances to demonstrate what you can do and optimises your chance of showing us your best side.
  • Your initial interviews will be with the college that is hosting you or, occasionally, they might be conducted centrally by the Modern Languages department itself.
  • However, you might also find that other colleges want to interview you. This means that all the languages tutors across all the colleges can view your application and can request to see you. You shouldn’t read anything into this. It does not mean that your first college has rejected you. It simply means that colleges are keeping lots of options open to them. Again, it is another chance for you to show us your best.
  • There will be at least two interviewers on the call. They may split the questioning 50/50 or one may take the lead while another takes notes. Don’t let this faze you – it’s just policy. They will start by introducing themselves and explaining the format of the interview.
  • The interview is likely to be split into two or three parts, depending on whether you are applying for the language from scratch or post-A Level (or equivalent).
  • If you are studying the language at A Level or equivalent, there will be some conversation in the target language. This is likely to be just three or four minutes and is another chance for us to assess your linguistic skills. We’re not looking for perfection or fluency. We are simply expecting an ability to speak in the target language at the standard expected of a candidate who is predicted a grade A at A Level. We will be assessing your language skills alongside your written work submission and your performance in the MLAT, so this is not the be all and end all.
  • If you are applying for a beginners’ language don’t worry, we will not ask you to hold a conversation in that language!
  • Regardless of whether you are applying for a language from scratch or post-A Level, you will probably be asked to do an exercise in close reading. The interviewer will share their screen with a short text on it. This may be a poem or an extract of prose. Practice does vary a little between colleges as to whether this text will be in the target language: some may give you a text in English; some may give you a text in the target language with an English translation; some may give you a text in the target language and also provide a dictionary or vocab. list, or invite you to ask about any words you don’t understand at the start of the interview. If you are applying for a language from scratch you will  be given a version of the text in English.
  • Read the text fully, and draw some initial conclusions from the text. Ask yourself not only ‘what are my first impressions?’ but, more importantly, ‘why and how are those impressions created?’
  • The tutors will ask you about the text for around ten minutes.
  • There will also be some general conversation as part of the interview. During this portion of the interview you might be asked to talk about: academic work you have completed in the last year or two; any relevant wider reading or work experience you might have done; subject-related issues that are very readily visible in the wider world (you will NOT be expected to have an intricate knowledge of current affairs); things you have mentioned in your personal statement.

Top Tips

  • The first thing to remember is that the interview simulates a tutorial. Tutorial-style teaching is really the USP of Oxford and Cambridge: it is a method of teaching that focuses on discussion in very small groups (usually a tutor and two or three students) on a more-or-less weekly basis. The interview is a way for us to see how you would fare in this type of teaching environment.
  • As such, we are interested in seeing your ability to contribute to an academically challenging discussion: this will partly be a matter of forming, expressing and, at times, defending your opinions on a particular topic, but we will also want to see your ability to think analytically, to read perceptively, and to be flexible in your thinking.
  • Try not to be too rigid in your approach. Be open to receiving new information and to changing your opinion based on that information if appropriate.
  • Go back and re-read your personal statement – there is a good chance you will be asked about it. Make sure you can talk about any books or films you have mentioned, or explain your interests further.
  • Decisions are not based on your manners, appearance, or background, but on your ability to think independently and to engage with new ideas beyond what you have learnt in school.
  • The questions will be focused and challenging but this is not a trap and it is not a vocabulary test. If there is anything you are unsure about, whether that’s the questions you are being asked or a particular word you might not understand, it is absolutely fine to ask the tutors to repeat or clarify their question.

So that’s a rundown of Modern Languages interviews at Oxford. It’s a lot to think about and we understand you may justifiably be feeling a little nervous. Of course, not everyone who is interviewed can be offered a place, and we know that this can be disheartening. But remember, you have already done incredibly well to reach interview stage. Whatever the outcome of your application, you should be proud of what you have achieved simply by getting into the room. Above all, try to enjoy the process – it’s not every day you will have the undivided attention of world-leading experts in your subject who are interested in what YOU have to say.

Check out our other interview related posts on this blog by clicking the ‘interviews’ tag. All that remains to be said is good luck!

THE MODERN LANGUAGES ADMISSIONS TEST (MLAT)

Good luck to all those taking the Modern Languages Admissions Test today to become an Oxford undergraduate next October. If you’re thinking of applying to us in the future, here’s a video about how the admissions tests work:

And you’ll find all the information about how to go about applying to study with us here:

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford

Modern Languages at Oxford

Reluctant as we are to blow our own trumpet on this blog, we hope you’ll forgive us for drawing attention to this year’s university rankings in the Guardian. As in previous years, the Guardian university ranking 2021 confirms the faculty as the best Modern Language department in the UK. We are delighted that this recognises the strength and depth of our provision for students. 

Professor Geraldine Hazbun (Director of Undergraduate Studies says: “This is excellent news in a year when colleagues and students have worked hard in difficult and changing conditions. It underlines our energy, expertise, and unwavering commitment to the study of languages and their cultures, as well as the horizons our courses can open up.”

Professor Simon Kemp (Director of Outreach and Schools Liaison) noted: “We are very pleased to see that our success rests in part on the very high employability of the linguists graduating from our courses. We’ll continue to work hard to inspire a new generation of students to be at ease in other languages and at home in other cultures.“

You can see the full rankings here:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2021/sep/11/the-best-uk-universities-2022-rankings

Studying Russian and other Slavonic Languages: New Videos

Recently we held an online open day for potential applicants interested in studying Russian and other Slavonic languages here at the University of Oxford. If you were unable to attend but would like to know more, we are delighted to share a playlist of videos with more information about our undergraduate courses. You can view the videos on our YouTube channel here.

Oxford Modern Languages Online Open Day

We’re delighted to announce that booking is now open for our 2021 Modern Languages Open Day. This is an online event (with live sessions delivered via Microsoft Teams and Q&A via Slido) and will take place on Saturday 1 May 2021 between 10am and 4pm: attendees are welcome to dip in and out of sessions over the course of the day. It’s a great opportunity for prospective applicants to find out more about all of the languages we offer, as well as Oxford’s joint degrees featuring languages alongside other subjects. The day will be hosted by current tutors and undergraduate students and there will be lots of opportunities to ask questions.

A full programme for the event is available here. Booking is essential (links to the online elements of the event will be supplied on booking). Attendees can register for a space via this link.

We’ll look forward to meeting you!

Studying Spanish and Portuguese: New Videos

Recently we welcomed potential applicants to our online open day for Spanish and Portuguese. If you were unable to attend but would like to know more about studying either of these languages at the University of Oxford, we are delighted to share a playlist of videos featuring tutors and students talking about our undergraduate courses. You can view the videos on our YouTube channel here.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Oxford Modern Languages Online Open Days

We’re delighted to be able to share news of our forthcoming Open Days for sixth-form students who may be interested in studying Modern Languages at Oxford. These would normally take place in Oxford but this year we’re running a series of online events sharing information about some of the many different languages we offer – potential applicants can join us from the comfort of their own home! There will be opportunities to chat to tutors and current undergraduates, as well as some events with live workshops and taster sessions.

The open day schedule for February and March 2021 is as follows:

  • Friday 26 February – Spanish and Portuguese
  • Saturday 27 February – German
  • Saturday 27 February – Russian and other Slavonic Languages
  • Saturday 13 March – Italian

In many of the courses we offer you can study a language from scratch, so please don’t be put off from attending if you aren’t studying any of these languages at A level!

For detailed programmes for each event, and information on how to book, visit the ‘Open Days’ page on our website. You can also find a series of videos about studying languages at Oxford on our YouTube channel, and there are specific playlists associated with the Spanish/Portuguese and Russian/Slavonic languages open days.

Later in the year we’ll also be holding an online version of our Faculty open day, where you’ll also be able to learn about some of the other languages we offer. Keep an eye on this blog and on the ‘Open Days’ page on our website for updates.

We’re looking forward to meeting you!