The basics
THE UK: Subject Guides

Studying modern languages in the UK as an American student

If you're from the States, Europe offers a vast array of language practising opportunities. Read on to find out why the UK is a great place to study modern languages


Have you ever felt the desire to go to Italy and be able to converse with la gente with ease? Have you ever wanted to visit France and discuss l’amour with the locals? Or have you just always wanted to study modern language at the university level so that you can speak and understand foreign languages with ease, and with focus on their cultural and linguistic contributions?


No matter what reason you have for doing it, studying modern language abroad in the UK is a great and rewarding experience. The UK is close to many other European countries in which you can practice and use the languages you learn, which makes learning them even easier!


Here is a quick look at the advantages of studying modern languages in the UK.


What does the program consist of?


There are many different modern language programs in the UK. Many of these are structured as a typical 4-year undergraduate degree program, where a student focuses on one language. At Oxford University, for example, the modern language program lasts four years, in which the third year is normally spent abroad in the country in which the student’s chosen language is spoken. However, there are also programs in which one can study two languages (or more) at once. So, one could combine French and Italian or German and Spanish, or any of a myriad of other options that fit their goals.


Though the main goal of these programs is for the student to become fluent in their chosen language (or languages) a lot of focus is placed on learning about the culture of the language’s country of origin. For instance, if one were to study Italian, they would learn about Italy’s historical background, as well as about its modern society. Professors try to immerse the student in the world of the language, not just by giving them reading, writing, and speaking assignments, but also by having them watch films and read historical and contemporary texts in the language.


The costs of a degree in modern language vary from university to university, and from program to program. However, in most cases, it is the same as the cost of tuition for any other bachelor’s degree, unless one chooses to study abroad for a semester or a year, in which case the price goes up.


Why the UK?


If you can study any language you want in any country you want, why choose to study it in the UK? Good question. As mentioned earlier, the UK is somewhat of a central hub for Europe, and is adjacent to many of the countries whose languages you will be learning. Since students at UK universities most likely share English as their native language, it is a nice alternative to studying in a place where you would be forced to interact with people using the language you are studying 24/7, which could be overwhelming, especially if you are just getting started.


That being said, the UK is close enough to the countries of your target languages to make it feasible to travel to them to practice and immerse yourself when you are ready. On a school break you could travel to Paris to speak French, you could travel to Rome and speak Italian, or you could even travel to Berlin to speak German. Plus, many of the professors at UK universities come from these countries, so whether you travel away from campus or not, you will have easy access to native speakers with whom to practice.


Where should you study?


Most universities in the UK offer great modern languages learning facilities with the chance to study or work abroad. Below is a list of some of the top ranked institutions for modern languages, as compiled by QS.


University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
University College London
University of Manchester
University of Edinburgh

University of Warwick
King's College London
Durham University
Lancaster University
SOAS University of London


Employment options


So learning languages sounds like fun, but what happens after you graduate? What can you do with a degree in a modern language (or in modern languages in general)? The answer is: a lot!


Graduates with degrees in languages can find careers in some very important and rewarding fields, such as translating, interpreting, and teaching. Some of these things can even be done for the government, which will earn you not only a lot of money, but a lot of respect. Graduates can also go into publishing, where they can write books on their chosen languages, or into public services and tourism, where they can work to help other people to communicate.


One of the most sought-after careers with this degree, though, is in business. Graduates have the opportunity to work in consulting departments and/or with international teams and corporations composed of business leaders from around the world.


There really is no limit to the career choices in this field. Even if he or she is not interested in any of the above options, a graduate could simply get a job—any job—in the country whose language they learned, and use their fluency in the language and their knowledge of the culture to become a true part of the society. Qué bueno, no?

Start your languages adventure today!


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About Author


Jessica Scott is a University of Louisville graduate with a degree in English and Humanities, specialising in literature, linguistics, and classical and modern languages. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she has been writing since the age of three. Her first novel, Chase and Charlie, was published in May 2015. Her interests include reading, writing, cooking, and studying Italian.


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