Happy Wednesday all! After some technical difficulties last week (apologies if anyone had issues accessing the blog), we’re back with a couple of reminders about upcoming events for (prospective) Modern Languages students… have a read below!
N.B. The deadlines for applying/registering for these opportunities/events fall within the next week, so don’t hesitate to sign up now!
Wadham College’s Modern Languages Summer School
When: Monday 21st August – Friday 25th August 2023
Where: Wadham College, Oxford
What: Summer Schools are designed to give UK pupils studying in Year 12 a taste of what it’s like to be an undergraduate studying at the University of Oxford. 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.
Who: Year 12 French, German, and Spanish students from UK state schools
More information: You can find more information here and email the Wadham Access Team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Modern Languages Open Day
When: Saturday 13th May 2023, 10.30am-4pm
Where: Examination Schools, 75-81 High Street, Oxford
What: Our Modern Languages 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.
Who: The Open Day is aimed primarily at Year 12 students and their parents/guardians/teachers, but Year 11 students who are starting to think about university study are equally welcome to attend.
How to register: Booking for this event is compulsory – you can register your attendance here.
Deadline to register: Bookings will close at midnight on Wednesday 10th May 2023.
Academic Study Days are a great opportunity for students in Year 12 to spend a day exploring a specific academic area at St Catz, meet with some current students, experience a taste of academic teaching, and enjoy lunch in the dining hall.
St Catz are running their Modern Languages Study Day on Wednesday 31st May, 10.30am-4.15pm.
Students attending this exciting Study Day will have the opportunity to sample a range of languages that are available at the University of Oxford. As part of this day, students will be able to choose two language sessions to participate in from a choice of:
Post A-Level Spanish,
Post A-Level French,
Beginners’ Czech, and
All students will also have the opportunity to participate in a Linguistics taster session.
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 21st August – Friday 25th August 2023 . 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.
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). Students will 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.
Why attend a summer school?
Summer Schools are designed to give UK pupils studying in Year 12 a taste of what it’s like to be an undergraduate studying at the University of Oxford. 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.
Summer Schools are completely free. Accommodation and meals are provided by the College. Wadham will also provide financial support to pupils to cover their travel costs.
Wadham College is delighted to be able to run these events in-person allowing participants the best experience of life at the university. The feedback from last year’s Summer Schools was hugely positive with over a third of participants subsequently securing offers to study at the university.
After the summer school I am much more confident that I would fit in at Oxford and feel like I am more ready to move away from home
– Summer School participant, 2022
If you are interested, please apply here by the deadline of 5pm on Friday 5th May 2023. You can email the Wadham Access Team at email@example.com with any questions.
In this week’s blog post, current German and Linguistics student, Emma Davis, talks about her time in Berlin, a recent trip funded by her college. Over to you, Emma!
Thanks to the travel, research and study grant available at my college (St Hilda’s), I had the opportunity to spend a jam-packed 5 days in Berlin over the Easter vacation to supplement my German degree. This funding highlights that studying languages at Oxford University is about more than just passing your exams, but about gaining linguistic proficiency, confidence in foreign countries and a rich cultural understanding that widens your view of the world. Travel grants are available, often with priority placed on languages students, at many of the Oxford colleges so it is important to research on your college’s website to see what is offered and how to apply.
In my opinion, there are four must-dos if you are planning a trip to Berlin… Firstly, make the most of the tours on offer. On the second morning of the trip, we embarked on a 3-hour walking tour which allowed us to get our bearings and helped me to link all the historical and architectural facts I have learnt about Berlin across the course of my German studies. Visiting the Reichstag building is another non-negotiable. Seeing the glass dome, the inscription above the entrance (‘Dem deutschen Volke’) and the artwork inside (‘der Bevölkerung’) was both interesting and powerful as these features symbolise the importance of democracy to Germany today. My favourite day of the trip was spent just 45 minutes outside of the city centre, in Potsdam. Sanssouci Palace – the summer residence of Prussian King Friedrich the Great – was stunning in the sunshine and provided excellent German audio guides with a long but clear explanation about each room which was enjoyable to listen to. Furthermore, techno clubs are seen as an integral part of Berlin’s cultural scene, to the point that some DJs have campaigned for them to receive Unesco World Heritage Status. After being questioned on the door (the clubs in Berlin do this to increase their exclusivity), we made it into Tresor and had a great night…and morning – the techno scene doesn’t really get going until 3am!
A few misconceptions I had before I travelled to Berlin were that most people would speak back to you in English, the dialect would be difficult to understand and that vegetarian food options may be few and far between. However, everyone that I approached spoke to me in German and I didn’t encounter any difficulties with the dialect. Moreover, there were countless vegan/veggie food options to try, including a twist on the traditional Currywurst!
Berlin is a city full to bursting with museums and during my week there I explored the German Spy Museum, Humboldt Forum, the Jewish Museum, and East Side Gallery. The Spy Museum is slightly less well-known than the destinations on Museum Island but is an engaging multimedia museum which walks visitors through the entire history of German espionage. For me, the most interesting part was listening to audio recordings of Germans who were involved in creating the Enigma code. The Humboldt Forum, considered the German equivalent of the British Museum, contains a thought-provoking exhibition responding to the question of whether colonial countries should return looted artefacts to their original owners or whether they should be displayed in places like the Humboldt Forum. This forces people to consider their country’s colonial history (incidentally, one of my favourite German words is die Vergangenheitsbewältigung which means ‘coming to terms with the past’). The Jewish Museum educated me on not only the extensive persecution that Jewish people have faced throughout the ages, but also the successes of many Jewish people, for example in the Weimar Republic. Finally, East Side Gallery is not a gallery in the conventional sense but rather a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall that is painted in countless murals, many with political messages relevant to the reunification of Germany.
To see even more of Berlin, I walked from the Brandenburg Gate, down Unter den Linden and past the Tiergarten to reach the Victory Column, which is 60m tall with a 360-degree view of the city. Another option for an incredible view is the Television Tower, which stands at 368m tall with a viewing platform 203m up.
I had a fantastic week, would highly recommend Berlin as a travel destination and am very grateful to my college’s travel grant for this opportunity.
On the blog this week, we pass over to our friends at St John’s College and Christ Church to promote their exciting upcoming Modern Languages Study Days!
St John’s College – Wednesday 10th May
St John’s College, Oxford is pleased to welcome applications for our Year 12 Modern Languages Study Day. The Study Day is open to all Year 12 students currently attending a non-selective state-school in the UK.
What does the day involve?
Academic taster sessions led by Oxford Modern Languages tutors
An introductory lecture on applying to, and studying at, Oxford University
An interview session with a practice interview demonstration
A Q&A session with current Modern Languages students and tutors
A tour of St John’s College
To sign up: Complete the application form on our websitebetween 20th March and 8am Monday 17th April 2023. All events and resources are free to qualifying pupils. Travel awards and Digital Assistance Awards are also available for eligible participants. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christ Church – Thursday 1 June
Christ Church is excited to be hosting a Modern Languages Study Day on Thursday 1 June 2023. This day is aimed both at students who are currently studying languages and those who are interested in picking up new languages at university. It will offer a taste of Modern Languages at university across both cases.
You do not need to be studying a language already to do a Modern Language as part of your degree at Oxford. As well as degree courses in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Modern Greek, Oxford also offers joint-honours courses that can involve languages in different combinations, such as French and Beginners’ Russian, Spanish and Portuguese or Russian and Beginners’ Czech (with Slovak). Oxford also offers a range of joint-honours courses that combine languages with other subjects, such as English and French, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Philosophy and Beginners’ German. More detailed information about course combinations and content can be found on the Oxford courses webpage.
It has been wonderful to meet so many students at our language-specific open days over the past few weeks. Building on this, we are delighted to be able to welcome prospective students to Oxford for our Modern Languages Open Day on Saturday 13th May, 10.30am-4pm. The event will be held at the Examination Schools, located on the High Street.
This event is a fantastic opportunity for students who are interested in learning more about our language courses, or who are still considering their options, 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 degree subjects will also be represented at the event.
*All of these languages can be studied here at Oxford from beginners’ level. From this year’s admissions cycle, students can also apply to study Beginners’ German with our Joint Schools subjects (e.g. English, History, Linguistics etc.) for the first time.
Our Modern Languages Open Day is aimed primarily at Year 12 students and their parents/guardians/teachers, but Year 11 students who are starting to think about university study 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. Bookings will close at midnight on 10th May 2023. 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 Oxford!
Are you thinking of applying to Oxford? Come and join us at our online conference! This online event offers you an opportunity to find out more about applying to Oxford, our courses, and the support available for students whilst studying here.
Join the live sessions running in the evenings fromMonday 20 March to Thursday 23 March to hear our academics talk about the courses they teach and from our current student ambassadors as they share their experiences of studying and living in Oxford.
Each session will last 50 minutes and will include a presentation and a live Q&A with a panel of University staff, academics, or current students.
What’s on offer?
Live webinars on applying to Oxford and how we can support you to make the strongest possible application
Live sessions with our subject academics and current student ambassadors
Video content across a broad range of topics (including current undergraduate students from your region talking about their experiences of applying, course videos, advice on how to choose a college and information on support services available)
Information for teachers and HE advisors
A designated session for prospective international students
An opportunity to ask our academics, students, and admissions staff any questions you may have.
In terms of Modern Languages, we would recommend joining on Wednesday 22nd March for the following sessions:
Arts and Humanities information session and Q&A
Arts and Humanities student ambassador experiences
There are plenty of other subject-specific sessions as well as more general information sessions about how to apply and the support available to students – you can check out the full timetable here.
In this week’s blog post, current French and Linguistics student, Josh Winfield, talks about his time in Montreal, a trip funded by his college. Over to you, Josh!
In March 2022, I was lucky enough to secure a travel grant from my college (St Hilda’s) to go to Montreal for 10 days. This blog aims to recount: what I found in Montreal, both from a touristic and student point of view; why I would recommend Montreal as a potential location for the year abroad; and to explore how Oxford colleges can help with course-related study trips.
If you were to look at the last ten years’ worth of year abroad archives, you would not be blamed for thinking that France is the only option for this exciting part of your degree course. When writing this blog, there were only a few students in the archives who had gone elsewhere. Whilst France is the potential obvious choice, considering its proximity to the UK, and the focus of French language courses on metropole French, I will aim to highlight some of the many advantages of Montreal as the location for your year abroad, or at least to inspire you to travel there as a student of French!
I have been interested in the French speaking region of Canada for a long time, particularly Quebec, using the question over its sovereignty as the focus of my Independent Research Project for my A-level French exam. However, I had never had the opportunity to actually visit it. When I started my course, I was shown the extensive list of bursaries that Oxford students could be eligible for, and as one of these, the travel grant (which is not just a Hilda’s thing, many colleges offer travel grants1) This generous funding allowed me to journey to Montreal, and paid for my accommodation. There are many funds available for undergraduates, with different colleges having differing amounts available, but for course-related travel, a well thought-out application is normally quite successful.
The language of the region
This is obviously one of the most important factors in the choice of the year abroad location, especially how much you are able to use it and learn.
Montreal, and the broader Quebec region are quite unique in the fact that they are both officially bilingual. And, whilst the news and nationalist politicians might make you believe that the speaking of English is minimal here, this is contrary to my experience, in fact the city operates as a melting pot for both French and English communication. 26%2 of the Montreal population acquired neither French nor English as their maternal language, and both Spanish and Chinese are commonly spoken here, making French a lingua franca amongst speakers. This phenomenon means that it is very easy to use French in day to day life, and that there is no presupposition as to which language you are going to speak. When I was there myself, at least 80% of the time I was greeted in French and spoken to in French as if I was a native speaker. This makes it very accessible for learners, and gives you the confidence to use the language more often.
Furthermore, the dialect in Quebec is very interesting (particularly for me as a Linguistics student too!). The accent is not only different to the standard metropole French in terms of pronunciation and slight lexical differences, but it is also not unusual to hear (even native French speakers) switch from French to English in a sentence for certain words, and even phrases. Despite the difference, after a few days there (and some YouTube videos) I got used to this, and didn’t have any trouble understanding people.
Worth considering too, is that the written language is almost exactly the same, making signs and menus easy to read for French students. What I have just discussed about the language may be off putting to some people , particularly the presence of English, but as a student with a disability myself, I am comforted by the fact that in a worst case scenario, doctors, hospital staff, and the majority of the public speak and can understand English. (Plus all the visa applications can be in English which is a huge bonus!)
The atmosphereof the city
Despite the fact that the city was just resurfacing from years of strict COVID regulations when I visited, the city life was still vibrant. There is a plethora of restaurants, night-time activities, sights to see and museums. At every turn there is something historically fascinating to see, an amazing piece of architecture, or just natural beauty. With a thriving Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal and International Quarter, Montreal defends its position as one of the most diverse cities in Canada.
The city is passionate about inclusion and diversity3, and feels very safe, with the Economist naming it the 4th safest city in North America4. There is also a large Gay Village, which hosts many aspects of LGBTQ+ life, including Drag Shows and Montreal Pride. As well as the city life, or is worth mentioning that Montreal has some beautiful natural areas. In the centre of the downtown, Mont Royal (the city’s namesake) occupies a near 700 acre park, boasting beautiful views of the entire city. All around the city there are green areas, allowing you a break from the city feel of Montreal.
Travel and pricing
Inner city travel in Montreal is cheap, easy and fast. Operating on three lines, the majority of the city is only 15 minutes away from a metro stop. For a one way journey it was (when I visited) $1.60, $3 for a return. The metros are clean, open and easy to use. I used it the whole time I was there, and found it easier than the tube in London. In more general terms about cost of living, the city is of equivalent cost to Oxford and London pricing. However, when you take into consideration the exchange rate, the cost of living is not necessarily something to put you off (I also did live like a tourist for my time here – residential areas will no doubt be cheaper). With a student visa, most people are allowed to work up to 20 hours whilst studying which can help with the cost of your time there.
In conclusion, with three excellent universities5, a welcoming accessible environment to speak and learn French, and an exciting and different city life, why not consider Montreal for at least part of your year abroad (or perhaps a shorter trip with a travel grant!).
Bookings for our Russian & Slavonic Languages Open Day are now open!
This year, our Russian & Slavonic Languages Open Day will be held on Saturday 4th March, 10.15am-12.30pm at University College, Oxford.
Like our other language-specific open days, this event is smaller and more focused in its scope compared to our wider open day later in the year, allowing more time to explore a subject.
Our Russian & Slavonic Languages Open Day is designed to provide greater insight into our undergraduate degree programmes in Russian and other Slavonic languages such as Czech, Polish and Ukrainian. These languages are all available to study at beginners’ level here at Oxford, so the open day presents a great opportunity to find out more about these options and what the courses entail. It’s also a lovely excuse to come and visit an Oxford college and the city for the day, meet our current students and academics, and experience a taste of student life.
If you are interested in coming along to this event, you can reserve your place on our open days webpage. Please note that bookings are mandatory for this open day and that the deadline for registering is 20th February 2023.
As a reminder, we’re running several language-specific open days over the next six weeks… take a look at the table below for further details and sign up to attend here!
We look forward to meeting you at these events soon!
Following a successful three-year run, University College, Magdalen College, and the Faculties of History and Modern Languages here at the University of Oxford are delighted to announce that the virtual BAME Humanities Study Day will return for 2023 on Tuesday 4th April!
This event offers UK state school students with Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritage an exciting opportunity to engage with academic taster sessions from across the Humanities subjects, and also to access insight into Oxford student life and support with the admissions process.
Last year, students chose to attend academic taster lectures on fascinating topics such as:
There is no such thing as the perfect body… and other lessons we can learn from the ancient Greeks (Classics)
Sixteenth-century French Women’s Writing: Challenging Gender Expectations in selected works of the Dames des Roches (Medieval & Modern Languages)
Popular Music: History and Interpretation (Music)
The Shock of the Nude: Art, Science, and the Racial Imaginary in Modern China (Art History)
The Grandfather of Islam in Buganda (History)
Medieval English and Arabic Religious Literature (English)
It was a fantastic insight into what university lectures will be like, and seeing so many passionate students pushed me to work harder to get in.
– 2021 Participant
This year, the day will open with an introduction to the University of Oxford followed by the opportunity to attend two humanities subject lectures. You will learn more about the Oxford application process with additional resources provided to help. The day will conclude with a live Q&A where you will have the opportunity to ask your questions to current Oxford students from BAME backgrounds.
For the academic lectures , you will be able to choose from the following subjects: Classics, English, History, History of Art, Modern Languages, Music, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Music, Philosophy or Theology. You will be able to specify your preferred lectures on the application form. All lectures will be recorded and available to watch after the event. If you are unable to attend live on the 4th April but would like access to the recordings and resources, then please still submit an application via the form below.
Currently in Year 12 (or equivalent)
Identifying as having Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic (BAME) Heritage
Attending a UK state school (unless you have extenuating circumstances or meet several of the priority criteria listed below)
If spaces are limited, priority will be given to students who meet one or more of the following: first generation in your family to attend university, have experience of being in care, are a young carer, are eligible for Free School Meals/Pupil Premium, are from an area of deprivation or area with a low rate of progression to university.
Applications will close at 23:59 on February 26th 2023. We cannot guarantee every applicant a place but are aiming to accommodate a large number of students. You will find out if your application was successful by 10th March.
If you have any questions about this form please email one of the organisers, Nuala, at email@example.com.
A blog for students and teachers of Years 11 to 13, and anyone else with an interest in Modern Foreign Languages and Cultures, written by the staff and students of Oxford University. Updated every Wednesday!
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