dd1 wants to study french and spanish at uni any advice?

(27 Posts)
kiery Thu 28-Feb-13 11:16:16

My dd1 wants to study french and spanish at uni.
Is it worthwhile she take a year out before uni to work in france or spain? One of my flat mates from uni was an au pair in Paris for a year before embarking on her degree (have since lost touch, and as a science grad don't know whether it is/was worthwhile).
Any advice gratefully received.

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creamteas Thu 28-Feb-13 17:54:24

Kiery most (maybe even all) language degrees are four years long and include a year abroad. At my uni, student taking two languages spend half of the year in one country and half in another so they practice both languages. Sometimes there are opportunities to chose between a study placement (eg being based at a university abroad) and a work placement, but this will depend on the uni she goes to.

So I would say that if she wants to take a gap year, then she should do so, but this is not essential as the chance to live and work in other countries is built into the degree.

chenin Thu 28-Feb-13 18:40:00

My DD1 did a combined Business and Spanish 4 year course at Birmingham Uni. The 3rd year was at a Spanish Uni where she lived with spanish flatmates, her lectures were in spanish, her essays were in spanish and it was the most fantastic experience (although v hard work) and to be honest, she came back fluent. HOWEVER, she did get an A* in spanish at A level which helped!

Kiery... has your DD done languages at A level? I just think it would be a struggle if she hasn't. DD2's bf is doing spanish and italian and it is VERY hard work in the 3rd year... 6 months living in Italy and 6 months living in Spain.

However, languages are such an asset and DD1 being fluent really has opened a door workwise for her.

Good luck with her choice. I am not sure how much a year out would help or not... it's never the conversational spanish or french is it... that comes relatively easy to them... it's the grammar and writing..

fussychica Thu 28-Feb-13 18:41:22

DS does Spanish, French & German at Uni but in a slightly different position from most as he is fluent in Spanish so spending his year abroad in France only, hopefully as a British Council Teaching Assistant. Others on the course are dividing their time as creamteas says.

As unemployment rates, particularly in Spain, are very high at the moment getting a job won't be as easy as it used to be but if she fancies giving it a go it would obviously improve her language skills. She could choose to go where her language ability is weakest and bring it up to the level of the stronger or aim for greater fluency in the stronger, leaving her to concentrate on the weaker at Uni.

Picking the right course is crucial as there is a great variation in course content - some are very literature based, others almost totally language based and others with interpreting & translation.

harbinger Thu 28-Feb-13 19:53:15

DD1 is doing Spanish and Latin American Studies at Uni but has tweaked her courses so that she is effectively doing Spanish and Portuguese.

That does not answer your question. DD1 did Spanish,French and Classics at A level and got very good grades. However, she was either burnt out or disillusioned with studying and took a gap year. She was working locally but also saved for a language school in Seville. This reignited her enthusiasm and she took up her place at Uni.

It will be a four year course. So a gap year makes them quite old (23).

The Uni my DD goes to places all the gap year/older students in the same flats,so they're not with a load of 18 year olds.

kiery Thu 28-Feb-13 21:01:03

Thanks for replies, much to consider which we had not thought about.
We are in scotland and she has her highers (sort of equivalent to a levels) coming up next term.
She wouldn't be ap

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kiery Thu 28-Feb-13 21:04:29

Oops pressed wrong button...
Thanks again smile

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creamteas Thu 28-Feb-13 21:11:44

When choosing a uni, another thing to think about is that some courses focus heavily on language and others on literature. So she will need to look at the modules that are being offered to know which would be best for her.

coldcupoftea Thu 28-Feb-13 21:13:09

As a Spanish graduate I would say that if I had my time again I would combine it with a more exotic/unusual language, if she has got the bug for learning languages- something like Russian, Arabic or Chinese. I just remember applying for language jobs after uni and it seemed French and Spanish graduates were ten a penny while people with the more unusual languages were snapped up pretty quickly not jealous of my Arabic and Russian speaking friend working at the UN, honest

And a big yes to a gap year if she can afford it- not essential but lots of fun and would do wonders for her fluency and confidence.

harbinger Thu 28-Feb-13 21:22:19

I think she knows that coldcupa. She taught herself Kanji at 14 but only because of manga.
Do you think that another in year 4 is a good idea? Or too near exams?

sandripples Sun 03-Mar-13 20:50:20

In Scotland Herriott Watt do a very language/linguistics based degree whereas others tend to mix language, literature and culture. (This may be out of date but was certainly the case for a long time.) Good if DD knows she wants to avoid literature, as some people do.

Taking a year out would make the whole thing very long but would put her ahead in terms of language ability. I'd say its definitely not essential though as she'll have her year in one or two countries.

She could give one of her languages a boost by going as an au pair just for a month or two in the summer hols (I did this a long time ago) or finding a voluntary job or attending a course. Even a month would help her if she hasn't spent much time in France or Spain and I'd recommend she looks into that kind of opportunity as it would boost her confidence.

She'd probably have the chance to try a new language as Scottish unis offer a broad first couple of years.
Our neighbour's DD (doing Spanish) has just been advised there's no chance of getting a job for her 3rd year (In Spain, starting Oct) so to go to a uni over there.

(I studied French and English at Edinburgh and DD did languages at Cambridge recently)

iworemyfringelikerogermcguinns Sun 03-Mar-13 23:18:05

I did a language at uni but compared to some classmates I began and left with poor speaking and listening. Time abroad would probably have helped my grades and confidence in 1st/2nd year. This might help your DD to get more from her year abroad before honours, not feel as much need to hang out with other English speakers to avoid problems communicating with native / fluent speakers, and hence she may be stronger on entry to honours years.

If she is going abroad at quite a young age it's worth thinking about what she can do to maximise her language use eg work as an au pair for a french, rather than British family. I currently teach English to overseas students in the UK and some of find it hard to escape a "bubble" with flatmates, classmates and friends who speak the same first langauge so they are really gaining little benefit from being here, unfortunately.

kiery Mon 04-Mar-13 11:42:37

Thanks for all your advice. I think she is keen on taking a year out before uni and Interesting that some courses are very literature based.. Thanks again.

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CoteDAzur Mon 04-Mar-13 11:49:30

I would like to second the recommendation to study Chinese and Russian, rather than French and Spanish, because:

1. Everyone and their mums speak French & Spanish whereas Westerners who speak Chinese & Russian are incredibly rare

2. France and Spain aren't going anywhere economically in the next two decades, but China and Russia are growing fast and will have higher economic importance in the future

3. Mandarin Chinese is spoken by about 900 mn people in the world, which eclipses even the 330 mn Spanish speakers

fussychica Mon 04-Mar-13 12:05:44

Don't disagree Cote but the level of Chinese many students reach during a degree is not a level which is fluent due to the complexity of the language. Also most of the 900mn people who speak Mandarin are actually in China rather than being spread throughout the world. I'd say Arabic might be the way to go.

slug Mon 04-Mar-13 12:12:34

Chinese and Japanese language students at SOAS can spend a year abroad as part of their degree. However, they don't teach European languages there.

Sympathique Mon 04-Mar-13 13:25:16

... but don't let her be put off studying French and Spanish if that's what she wants to do. She may end up working in something where European languages are best - or languages are even irrelevant (shock horror, can't believe I put that!). And it's going to cost her mega££s, and be hard work, so let her stick to what she enjoys.

But if she IS persuaded to go with one of the above suggestions, ab initio languages are really tough, so it would be great if she could make a solid start in her gap year. One of my DCs did Russian ab initio and was one of only two students in the year not to have that kind of grounding; quite a few had Russian to AS and/or time in the country and their language skills were pretty good for 'beginners'.

Renniehorta Mon 04-Mar-13 13:45:11

My son graduated last year in Spanish and Portuguese. He now wishes that he had combined his language studies with another skill. I have to say that at the time that he was applying for uni he would have rejected that idea. Just as the son of a friend did, when my son was discussing this with him. He has got offers from all the unis he applied to for French and Spanish. In part I believe that unis are so desparate for male lang undergrads that it is quite easy to get in.

However another lad that I know who combined French, Spanish and finance very easily found a job. He is now working for the London branch of a Latin American bank where he did half of his year abroad.

I would seriously advise anyone contemplating studying an MFL, whichever one it is, to do so in combination with another subject.

harbinger Mon 04-Mar-13 17:28:18

Has your DS found work? If so was it very hard?

sandripples Mon 04-Mar-13 19:45:14

Another option if it can be afforded, is to assume you'll have to study for a further year after graduation so that you pick up other skills to go with the languages by doing a more vocational or business diploma for example.

That was true in my day (ie 30 years ago) and is till the case, unless you combine with another course at uni. I know a lot of languages graduates who went on to study eg law, teaching, HR, translation. You really do have to combine languages with something else unless you're lucky enough to go straight into a firm where they'll train you up.

ggirl Mon 04-Mar-13 19:55:32

My dd is doing french and economics at Uni.She's in her 2nd yr and did do a gap yr before uni.
Def worthwhile doing an au pair job .

babybarrister Mon 04-Mar-13 19:59:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sympathique Tue 05-Mar-13 11:50:00

Daughter of a friend went straight into banking with MML, had several offers to choose from straight from BA graduating. Was she a one-off? A friend of hers went into a graduate management scheme with a well-known company. It sounds as thought they were lucky, although as far as I was aware that cohort had less difficulty than most (arts/humanities) grads at the time in getting decent jobs. I guess some of them did Master's and I've forgoten that, and I don't of course have an overall picture

Renniehorta Tue 05-Mar-13 18:13:06

My son is currently studying for an MA in history, which he sees now as a bad choice. He was hoping to do a PHD but how realises that there are so few uni jobs that he would be much better getting a job.

His course lasts until end September but he is trying very hard to get a job, with lots of second. third interviews but no actual job. However it is very early in the year for September. So fingers crossed he will succeed.

I think that potential MFL students need to remember how many EU nationals with MFL skills + skills in other subject areas are in the job market.

This is why the current status of MFL in secondary is such a travesty.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Mar-13 05:12:19

I agree with Cote, and want to add Portuguese to the list of languages on the rise.

I also agree with those advising Language plus another subject - especially finance or econ.

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