Sophie, Modern Languages

ML Sophie

I find my studies at Oxford to be a lot more satisfying than A-Level work. Here I feel less like I am trying to tick off boxes on a mark scheme, and more that I am being asked to properly think for myself.

I applied for the Modern Languages course at Oxford because it places a strong emphasis on studying literature. I was also attracted by the personal approach of the tutorial system, and the amazing access to resources that Oxford offers.

I didn’t know anything about the colleges until I came to an Open Day and stumbled upon Trinity. The staff and students were friendly and I liked the accommodation. I liked the way Trinity felt visible to the outside world, not hidden away. And of course, the location is fantastic!

I find my studies at Oxford to be a lot more satisfying than A-Level work. Here I feel less like I am trying to tick off boxes on a mark scheme, and more that I am being asked to properly think for myself. I went to a mixed comprehensive in the Midlands, and initially felt quite insecure about the workload. I had never done any translation before I came to university, and had only read a handful of simple books in French. I especially felt like I had a lot of catching up to do with grammar. Nonetheless my tutor at Trinity was consistently supportive and gave me confidence in my own critical abilities. I think everyone feels like they’re not good enough sometimes. The most important lesson I have learnt is to resist perfectionism!

I am expected to do a lot of independent study: in a typical week I attend a few lectures at the Taylorian Institution and compulsory grammar, speaking and translation classes with people from Trinity. I usually have eight to twelve literature tutorials per term, either on my own or in a pair. I am really interested in film, so I enjoyed the French Sole cinema module in first year. As a finalist, I have also been able to choose European Cinema as my special subject topic. However, I think the best part of any linguist’s degree is the year abroad. I worked for six months as a radio presenter in Nantes, then four months at a publishing house in Paris.

Modern Languages allows you to develop a really wide range of skills. Literature studies require you to be an analytical, creative thinker. You’ll have to grapple with difficult secondary reading and be resourceful enough to work around unfamiliar language. Grammar necessitates a high attention to detail, while translation also means being a masterful writer in English. Oral classes and tutorials will help you to become a confident, articulate person who is able to think on their feet and isn’t afraid to test out a new idea. As with any course at Oxford, being organised and able to prioritise tasks is very important.

Studying at Oxford is certainly no ordinary university experience! I think one of the best things is being surrounded by so many talented and motivated people. It’s a very stimulating environment to be in. There’s so much to get involved with outside of work: terms are always packed full of exciting events. I have written for student publications Cherwell and Isis, been part of the Women’s Campaign committee, volunteered as a tutor with the charity Jacari, and I’ve represented Oxford in ballroom and Latin dancing, to name a few. I also try to go to as many film screenings as possible. There really is something for everyone here: theatre, music, sport, business, campaigning – you name it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I finish my degree, but I hope it involves writing.

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