Lisa, Charlie and Salomeya – Modern Languages
What do you like best about your course?
Salomeya (French): I do French Sole and I love the range of options this course covers during the first year, such as Film and French Thought. It gives me the opportunity to learn more about French culture by studying its main philosophers, literary theorists and cinematography and I can apply this knowledge to understand and engage with the core literature course better. In general, what I love most about studying languages at Oxford are the discussions that we have with tutors in seminars and tutorials that broaden my understanding of the set texts and give me an opportunity to analyse various interpretations at once.
Charlie (French and Beginners’ Russian): What sets a Modern Languages degree apart for me is the range of classes it offers. Oral, language and literature tutorials all offer such scope for discussion that often you end up debating issues you’d barely considered on the first reading of an article or novel.
Lisa (Russian and German): I like the range of paper options we have. Covering the whole spectrum of medieval through to modern literature in first year gives us a good taste of what’s out there, and I like that the course allows you to expand on what interests you in your final year. I particularly like that we have the option to do linguistics-based papers as well – I feel we really get a well-rounded linguistic education.
Why did you choose to apply to St Edmund Hall?
Charlie: I visited Teddy Hall twice on separate open days, one of which was specifically geared towards prospective Modern Languages students. At this event, the tutors were so approachable and spoke more enthusiastically than at the other colleges I’d seen, which definitely played an important role in my choice.
Lisa: I’d heard really good things about the College, and that it had a relaxed, fun vibe!
What is life like as a student here?
Salomeya: For me, Teddy Hall has become my Oxford family. There is a real sense of community here and that is what I love most. The work is demanding and time-consuming but the tutors are very understanding here and if you have any difficulties they are always willing to help. Tutors treat you like adults, which makes the learning process more enjoyable. There are a number of activities within College to enjoy outside of academia, like sports and drama.
Charlie: At Teddy Hall you benefit from a college with a small site but a large undergraduate body. Every day you see a huge range of people, not just limited to those in your immediate friendship group. This allows Teddy Hall to boast perhaps the best inter-year relations – which are often formed and furthered in the range of extra-curricular activities.
Lisa: It’s great fun. There’s a real sense of camaraderie. Sport is a big part of Hall life, but by no means the only part. We have a thriving music scene, including the choir that I am a part of, and are also very sociable.
How did you spend your year abroad?
Charlie: As a Russian ab-initio student, the major part of my year abroad consisted of an 8-month language course in Yaroslavl’. Although heading to Russia with quite a rudimentary grasp of the language was nerve-wracking in concept, the learning curve is a steep one and I even ended up on Yaroslavl’ news exhibiting knowledge of some choice Russian words I’d learnt from playing in the local rugby team. On top of this I spent two weeks in Biarritz and a month in Paris on a language course at the Sorbonne.
Lisa: On my year abroad I spent four months in Frankfurt in Germany, working for Deutsche Bank as a translator, and then went to Moscow for five months where I studied voice and music history at the Moscow Conservatoire.
What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?
Salomeya: I would advise applicants to really think about the fact that the majority of your time studying languages at Oxford (apart from the year abroad) is going to be focused on literature, rather than, say, just on language classes. It is really important to love reading and to want to learn how to analyse foreign literary texts critically. You will learn how to interpret them confidently and creatively, since essentially, this course teaches you how to become a critic in your own right. In order to achieve that, students need to be really passionate about the literature (and films, and philosophy…) they are going to be studying, and not just have an interest in a foreign language and its grammar.
Charlie: It is very obvious and a cliché but I believe that the best advice is having evidence to show your interest in the subject which goes above and beyond your exam syllabus. With regards to Russian ab-initio, for example, read some literature in translation or watch some plays and then, most importantly, form some opinions on these – it doesn’t matter if at this stage they are not highly sophisticated.
Lisa: Prepare to read a lot. And, hand in hand with that is learning good time management. A languages degree has lots of components (translation classes, literature tutorials, oral classes, etc.) so you have to get to grips with what working style works for you quite quickly.