Language learning at university.

(8 Posts)
Sadusername3 Sat 23-Feb-19 09:03:12

My Dd is currently in 2nd year at university on a humanities course. Unfortunately she had a fairly disrupted education in the sense she ended up in 5 different kinds of educational establishment during secondary school years which means she never learnt really had the opportunity to study another language.
I think she find it pretty embarrassing as most people she knows are bilingual or at least can communicate in another language.
She has a pretty heavy workload but would like to start learning a language from scratch but she isn’t sure which one. The obvious candidates would be Spanish, German or French. Any suggestions as to which language may be most useful? Dream job is the foreign office.
A lot of it will be self study but it would be great if she could do some immersive courses. Money’s always an issue though. But I seem to remember that back when I was young some European universities did do fairly cheap courses but I can’t find anything online?
Any ideas or recommendations ?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Sat 23-Feb-19 10:13:38

There are courses that take place over the summer in European countries. Try looking at something like languages abroad. Does she have any language teaching in her school career at all? These immersive courses are not cheap though.

I’m not sure which language is more useful for the FO, but people studying German has fallen off a cliff. Spanish is most popular. The FO used to run immersion courses when someone needed a language but I would look at their Web site for info.

It’s a shame she couldn’t access anything ab initio at university but without any language GCSE she’s on the back foot.

bevelino Sat 23-Feb-19 13:46:34

How about she starts with duolingo, which is a free app. She could then try different languages to see which one she is interested in pursuing further.

Sadusername3 Sat 23-Feb-19 14:33:51

Thanks Bubbles and Bevelino.

Unfortunately her college doesn’t offer free language learning, but hers doesn’t!

She has started duo lingo German but I did wonder how useful it would be. They do seem to offer relatively cheap government run courses but I think that she may not qualify as EU citizen by the time she can attend.

OP’s posts: |
Chocolatedeficitdisorder Sat 23-Feb-19 19:05:09

My Dd studies Mandarin at Uni and it looks like it's going to be really useful to her in the future. She's already been head-hunted into her part-time job because of it. Many large cities have a 'Confucius hub' who offer language course from absolute beginners.

The Chinese have an examination system for overseas learners called the HSK.

BubblesBuddy Sat 23-Feb-19 19:30:41

I don’t think you can ever say which language is most useful. To whom? Many linguists will have 3 languages already. The FO and other people who want languages, understand that linguists pick up other languages once they have studied to degree level. They then run immersion courses for them.

DD did modules in Portuguese during her year abroad plus two at university. As your DD hadn’t kept going with any language she’s not going to get to the same level as a degree holder who has studied for 4 years any time soon.

It might be worth going to China to work after her degree. Or somewhere else. DDs friend worked in Japan for 2 years after graduating and now speaks Japanese. He now works for the Govt in counter terrorism. He was in the Dept for Education. He might have liked the FO but it’s not happened for him! However I think this is the best route and who knows what language the FO will want or indeed anyone else. Arabic maybe? Russian? We don’t do a huge amount of trade with the Chinese at the moment and EU countries still top our export league in terms of needing another language. French is spoken at the NGOs in Geneva. However good luck to her in trying to improve her MFL.

KingIrving Sat 23-Feb-19 19:58:33

I speak 7 languages with a variety of abilities/ I have worked as a French and Italian teacher. Some languages I learned as a child other as an adult.
Everything has to do with the effort you put in it and you need to push through the difficulties. Apps such as Duolingo are useful to increase your passive language - reading comprehension, but when it comes to oral comprehension at normal speed in an unknown context or worse oral expression - speaking - , they don't work. The ability to retrieve a word you have learnt and use it in a sentence cannot be gained by Duolingo as far as I have seen with friends telling me they have done 362 days straight of duo lingo and unable to understand the sentence " let's go for a walk tomorrow " not even if I say the sentence at an unnaturally slow pace.

The key in learning anything, including a language is motivation.
I would recommend a proper language course in a school to get the basics in grammars and sentence construction and then your DD should submerge herself in that language. Only listen to radio in that language even if she doesn't understand a single word. A language has its own melody, intonation and tones. Watch movies on Netflix in that language with English subtitles, try to read magazines and look for language exchange in which you meet a person who wants to learn English. Two hours in a cafe, the first hour the conversation is done in English, the second hour in that other language.

Going and living for a couple of months in another country helps if she goes out and about and interacts with the community. Just being in the country won't help. I know a person who has been living in Australia for 30 years and doesn't speak a single word of English. She is the Chinese grandmother of one of my son's friend.

You need to put hours and efforts into a language.

If she is already learning German, she should have a look here
It is part of

Hope this helps. Good luck!


BubblesBuddy Sun 24-Feb-19 10:19:16

Living in a country for a couple of years will if you keep away from English speakers and actually want to learn. I think this is the only way because any courses won’t get her up to a standard for work.

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