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.
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!
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 daywebsite, 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 2022UNIQ 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 websitefor further information.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Readers familiar with the blog may be aware that the Oxford German Network normally runs a German Classic Prize for sixth formers. While the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the prize can’t run this year, they have come up with a great alternative way to engage with another Classic piece of German literature. If you study German and are currently in Year 12/ Lower Sixth, this is an awesome opportunity to immerse yourself in a German text and get some feedback from an Oxford academic. Read on to find out more…
A German Classic: Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig
Participation Guidelines for Sixth-Formers
We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2020 edition of ‘A German Classic’. Although we are unfortunately unable to run it as a competition this year, we would still like to invite you to read with us Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig (1912) – one of the most famous novellas in German literature and a masterpiece of European modernism. In his inimitably elegant and sumptuous style, Mann tells a transgressive story of Gustav von Aschenbach, an aging German writer, who falls in love with Tadzio, a teenage boy from Poland, during a holiday in Venice in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Often hailed as a break-through work for the queer community, Der Tod in Venedig might resonate differently now, in the era of the #metoo movement and the coronavirus pandemic.
You can sign up for free to receive a physical copy of the German original and an English translation of Mann’s novella, watch a specially recorded lecture that will guide you through the text, and have the opportunity to get feedback on your written commentary on a passage from Der Tod in Venedig from an Oxford academic. While logistic challenges this year mean that we are unable to compile extensive study materials and conduct our usual essay competition, we hope that you will want to join us for an exploration of ‘A German Classic’ in this adapted format.
‘A German Classic’ was launched in 2017 thanks to a generous donation by Jonathan Gaisman, QC. It is designed to celebrate a different literary classic each year and encourage in-depth study by creating a wide range of resources that open up different perspectives on the concerns at the heart of the work. The links to interviews and discussions, articles and performances remain available on our website to inspire ongoing interest in these works beyond the year of the competition. So far, we have featured Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust (in 2017), Freidrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart (in 2018), and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann (in 2019).
Participants must fulfil the following requirements as of September 2020:
be beginning their final year of full-time study at a secondary school in the UK (upper-sixth form, Year 13 or S6 in Scotland);
be between the ages of 16 and 18;
hold a GCSE, IGCSE or equivalent qualification in German offered in the UK;
be resident in the United Kingdom.
Participants are not, however, expected to have prior experience of studying German literature.
All interested students should email the German Classic Coordinator, Dr Karolina Watroba (email@example.com), as soon as possible. We will be accepting new participants until the end of July. Students will receive free of charge:
Physical copies of the German text of Der Tod in Venedig and an English translation. Shipping will be administered by the Blackwell’s online bookshop. Students will need to provide an address in the UK to which they would like the books shipped, by which they consent to having their address passed on to Blackwell’s. Shipping may take up to a few weeks. Editions received may vary as they will depend on the availability of stock. Since we depend on the availability of stock, which is currently subject to potential disruption, we cannot unfortunately guarantee shipping: orders will be placed on a first come, first served basis.
Access to a specially recorded, hour-long, university-style online lecture. The lecture will introduce Thomas Mann’s life and work, guide students through Der Tod in Venedig, and discuss additional resources on the text that are freely available online.
A choice of three short commentary passages from Der Tod in Venedig alongside a guide on how to write a good commentary. Students will be encouraged to write and submit their commentaries (c. 1500 words) by email by 1 September 2020. All students who submit a commentary by this date will receive individual written feedback on their work by 1 October 2020. The feedback will not include any ranking or mark. It will be designed purely as informal academic comment on the piece of work submitted.
We would like to ask all students who
request access to these materials to let us know the name and type of
their school (non-selective state-maintained; selective
state-maintained; non-selective independent; selective independent;
other) so we can monitor whether we are reaching a diverse range of
schools around the country.
Readers of the blog may remember that Round 1 of the ever-popular Oxford German Network’s Olympiad opened in September, this year on the theme of ‘Natur und Technik‘. We are now pleased to announce that Round 2 has now launched, with a further set of competitions for students in Year 10 upwards. The deadline is 24 April 2020. Read on to find out more about Round 2, and remember – Round 1 remains open until 13 March 2020.
Task 1 – for students in Years 10-13
Ludwig van Beethoven. Prize: £100
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) is reckoned to be the most widely
performed composer in the world. Contribute to his 250th anniversary!
Write a blog post (max. 350 words) or create a video (max. 4 minutes) on one of the following topics, or invent your own:
Der taube Komponist
Beethoven und die Französische Revolution
Rock mit Beethoven
Alternatively write a review of a real or fictional Beethoven concert (max. 350 words).
1943 five students and a professor at the University of Munich were
arrested, interrogated, tried, and executed. They were members of The
White Rose (Die Weiße Rose), a group that secretly wrote and distributed
leaflets calling on the Germans to resist Hitler. The White Rose Project
is a research and outreach initiative at the University of Oxford
telling the story of the White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance group in the
UK. It currently works in collaboration with the Munich-based Weiße Rose Stiftung,
whose mission is to uphold the resistance group’s memory and ‘to
contribute to civic courage and individual responsibility and to promote
The White Rose Project Writing Competition. Prize:£100. The winning essay will also be featured on the White Rose Project website.
Find out about the White Rose resistance group (die Weiße Rose) and write an essay in German (max. 350 words): „Was können wir heute noch von der Weißen Rose lernen?“
For undergraduates (second year and above) and postgraduates of German studying at a British or Irish university. Prize: £100. The winning translation will also be featured on the White Rose Project website.
Writing Resistance – ‘Flugblattentwurf von Christoph Probst’ (1943)
(Please download the draft of the leaflet here.)
Each submission should consist of two parts:
a translation into English of the draft leaflet written by Christoph
Probst in January 1943. Had it been completed and printed, it would have
been the seventh leaflet produced by the White Rose group.
Write a commentary on the text (max. 400 words), in English or German,
referring both to the leaflet itself (its style and historical references) and your approach to translating it.
competition will be judged by members of The White Rose Project. The
judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
If you have any questions about the Olympiad, please contact the coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see lots of entries to both rounds of the German Olympiad. And to all the Germanists out there – viel Glück!
If you’re considering your university choices, one of the best ways to get a feel for different universities is to visit them. To that end, we offer a number of open days for propspective students – a chance for you to meet current students and tutors, look around the facilities, find out about the course and the lifestyle, and get a taster of what it’s like to study a particular subject at that university.
In the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty at Oxford, we organise several different kinds of open day: some are small open days for individual languages, where you can attend sample lectures and immerse yourself in a specific language; we also run a big open day in May which covers all of our languages in one day, offering an overview of Modern Languages at Oxford and Q&A sessions for the different languages and joint degrees; and finally, there are University-wide open days in the summer when most of the departments and colleges are open so that you can get a sense of the University as a whole.
Below you will find the dates of our 2020 open days. You need to book a place on the language-specific open days and on the main Modern Languages open day, but you do not need to book for the university-wide summer open days. You can book here.
German, Saturday 29 February
Spanish and Portuguese, Friday 6 March
Russian and other Slavonic Languages, Saturday 7
Italian, Saturday 14 March
General Modern Languages (all languages we offer
and joint schools), Saturday 2 May
University-wide open days, Weds 1 and Thurs 2
July, Friday 20 September
Programmes for each of these open days are available here. Please note that there is no specific open day for French: students interested in French should attend the open day in May or one of the open days in July or September.
Stay tuned for more posts about open days – what to expect and how to prepare – but, in the meantime, if you’d like to meet us in person do book a place on one of these events. If you have any questions please get in touch at email@example.com and we look forward to meeting you later in the year!
You may remember that in the past this blog has featured clips from our sixth form literary masterclass: our tools and tips for sixth formers approaching literature in a foreign language for the first time. Past episodes have included a French introduction to ‘Time and Tense’ and an introduction to ‘Theatricality’, also with a French focus. Today, we shift the focus to German and consider the theme of ‘Perspective’ in a text that is commonly studied as part of the German A Level: Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Der Besuch der alten Dame. Dr Karolina Watroba explores this topic in the video below, showing how a few key quotations can reveal the shifting points of view represented in the play.
In past weeks we have heard from two of the inaugural Lidl prize winners for German, Anna and Cecilia. Today we hear from a third winner. Rachel studies German and History at Merton College. Here she tells us what it’s like to study German at Oxford and how the linguistic and literary sides of the degree intertwine...
A common misconception about studying languages both at school and
university is that its sole function is to learn the language in
question. Although this may be the case at GCSE, A level students will
soon discover that culture, identity, politics and history come hand in
hand with any linguistic studies. These themes become far more prominent
at degree level, and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that
languages at university is an incredibly exciting and varied area which
encapsulates all humanities subjects.
Although the importance of multilingualism in business and diplomacy is often (and rightly) emphasised in the promotion of language learning, studying German at Oxford has so far taught me that a language degree offers even more than these highly employable skills. As a joint schools student studying History alongside German I have always seen the main focus of my degree as culture; the combination of linguistic and historical awareness is what gives us the greatest understanding of societal and national identities. Oxford’s emphasis on literature as a way of accessing foreign culture is incredibly powerful, as it not only explores the use and intricacies of the language, but also addresses the country’s history and art. This became particularly evident to me during our term of studying German poetry, which explores history and philosophy through methods whose effects would be completely lost in translation. The depth of literary study at Oxford can be daunting given the limited experience A level offers in this area, but the support given through lectures and tutorials means that even the most impenetrable novels can be discussed and appreciated as gateways to foreign language and culture.
The most important thing my first year has taught me is
that languages at Oxford does not demand heavy pre-reading and prior
knowledge; I had only read two German books before and had never even
considered being able to read any pre-twentieth century literature!
Understanding of the language and methods comes with time, but is made
easier by enthusiasm and an open mind to the history and ideas which it
is trying to share.
A few weeks ago we published a blog post written by one of the winners of the Lidl prizes for German, Cecilia. Today’s post was written by another winner: Anna won the Lidl prize for the best performance in the examination after the first year of all students studying German from scratch. Here she tells us what it’s like to study German as a beginners’ language at Oxford, and how she sued her prize money to further her study of German.
By the end of year 12 I knew that I wanted to study French at university, but felt an additional beginners’ language would be quite exciting and a bit of a change from what I was used to. I considered Russian or Italian for a while but ultimately settled on German; it seemed to complement French well while still being a new challenge (the Cyrillic alphabet seemed just a little too scary) and I liked the idea of the complicated yet logical grammar system.
My first year studying German has been such a great experience; I arrived knowing only a few basic words and now feel I have a very strong foundation in German grammar to take into my second year. The course is fast-paced yet comprehensive, with a lot of contact hours and long (but manageable) lists of vocabulary to learn, but it was all absolutely worth it; it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come in a relatively short space of time. Additionally, the teaching style at Oxford means that you spend a lot of time with your coursemates, which is especially true for beginners’ German (and indeed any other beginners’ language); there were seven of us on the course and we would see each other for class every day, so we all ended up really close which was a lovely support system during exams or if we had a particularly difficult translation task.
I came to Oxford from a very average state school; the feeling of ‘impostor syndrome’ was very real before I arrived and I was worried I’d be miles behind everyone else. However, I’ve really enjoyed being pushed academically and crucially have never felt that my educational background has hindered me in any way. Winning the Lidl prize for best performance in beginners’ German was quite a surprise but I’m so grateful for it and overall feel that I’ve done myself proud.
The prize money has helped to fund my summer travels – I went to Heidelberg for two weeks with one of my classmates to do a language course. It was really beneficial to have a familiar face in class and someone at the same level to speak German with; we even went out for cocktails one night and didn’t speak a word of English! There were also plenty of opportunities to practise our German with others – we met lots of fellow students from all over the world, and Germans are generally quite accepting of learners and let you muddle through (and then correct your mistakes, which is a bit embarrassing but very helpful).
I couldn’t recommend studying German at university more to anyone who enjoys modern languages, whether it’s following an A-Level qualification or starting from scratch. For those considering the latter, don’t be put off by the daunting prospect of reaching A-Level standard within a year – it’s definitely achievable and more rewarding than you could ever imagine.
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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