Growing up, I had several childhood dreams, from being an astronaut to appearing on MasterChef. One dream that remained unchanged, however, was to become fluent in French. Right from my very first French lesson at the age of 7, I fell in love with everything French-related… I took up ballet, experimented with French cooking recipes, and as I got older, read the French version of my favourite books at the time – Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. I even started saving my pocket money, resisting the temptation to buy one more sparkly notepad, and gradually filled my piggybank so that I could one day live abroad!
When I started secondary school, I started to learn German as part of the school curriculum. Just like with French, I was quickly drawn to German… I wrote letters to my pen-pal in northern Germany, took part in an exchange trip to southern Germany and (maybe not surprisingly!) also read the German version of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
In many ways, German is very different to French and both can be considered fascinating languages in their own right. So, when it came to choosing my options for GCSE and A level, I couldn’t choose between the two and ended up picking both languages!
When I reached the age of eighteen, it seemed a natural progression to apply for university degrees offering joint honours in French and German. You can read all about why I chose a joint-honours course in this blog post. I wanted to study in the UK in particular for many reasons – the general university experience, quality of teaching and global reputation of UK universities, just to name a few. Six weeks after submitting my UCAS application, I was over the moon to have received a conditional offer from the University of Bath.
Before I knew it, it was A level Results Day. Fortunately, my place at Bath was confirmed, but I wasn’t as excited as I’d expected to be. Even though I’d long been awaiting this day, I didn’t feel ready to go to university. Around the same time, an opportunity had opened up to live and work in the French Alps for a year. Up until this point, I was known for following carefully-laid plans, but instead, I made a last-minute decision to defer my place at university.
Full immersion meant I discovered so much more about the language and culture – things that traditional classroom teaching wouldn’t normally cover, like local dialects, colloquialisms and humour. In fact, I learned so much that it made me question whether I wanted to return to the UK for university or continue abroad. As much as I loved nearly every minute of that spontaneous gap year, I decided to take up my offer to study at Bath for so many reasons!
Bath is one of the few UK universities to teach in the target language.
This was a major deciding factor for me. Living in the French Alps had allowed me to fully immerse myself in the language and culture, which in turn saw my language capabilities and confidence rapidly accelerate! The immersive experience encouraged me to think on my feet, absorb new vocabulary and gradually refine my pronunciation and accent.
What I appreciate about the Modern Languages course at Bath is that many of the lecturers are native speakers of the language they teach. I’ve personally found this has boosted my language skills, through increased exposure to new vocabulary and native accents!
Bath offers a contemporary approach to content.
When I was researching different UK universities that offered a joint honours degree in Modern Languages, it seemed to be that each university could offer a unique perspective and curriculum… Oxbridge focused on classical literature, York emphasised applied linguistics (the study of languages themselves), and Bath took a contemporary approach.
I had applied to all three of these universities since they all sounded amazing in their own right. For me, Bath just had the edge and I’ve found the content covered in lectures has largely helped me understand everything going on in the world right now!
Bath encourages an exciting Year Abroad.
On my course, the integrated placement year overseas is something that many people look forward to. In particular, Bath offers quite a lot of flexibility – I chose to gain work experience in both of my placements, although there’s the option to study abroad at a host institution.
The Placement Team also provided amazing support in the lead up to and throughout my Year Abroad. I had secured my dream placement in Cannes, France, but this, unfortunately, fell through only a couple of months before my flight was scheduled to leave the UK. I’m grateful for the 1-1 sessions, online resources and calls that the Placements Team encouraged, as they supported me in handling my disappointment and securing another placement at the last minute. You can read all about my placement experience here.
Looking back, I’ve had an amazing few years studying languages at Bath. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re thinking of a degree in Modern Languages!