What’s it like studying Modern Languages?

Anne-Marie Harding

At Durham, the study of modern foreign languages is aimed at both improving your language skills and also your cultural fluency in the countries and regions where your target language is spoken. I am a first-year joint honours History and Russian student so I study just one language however, if you decide to take Modern Languages and Cultures BA, you can study up to three languages (although only one may be studied from scratch!) from French, Spanish, Russian, German, Italian and Arabic. It is worth noting that French cannot be studied ab-initio. BA Chinese studies and BA Japanese studies are also courses that you may consider. 

Tips before coming to Durham

The number of contact hours you will get will depend on whether you are taking the language ab initio (from scratch) or post A level.

For those wishing to study ab-initio the pace of the course is fairly intensive as you are expected to reach A-level proficiency within a year and therefore it may be helpful before coming to Durham to get a feel for the language through basic phrases and pronunciation to help smooth out the transition into university education during your first few weeks.

For those taking languages post A level you won’t have as many contact hours as you are likely to have received during your A-levels so staying in contact with the language through media or with study buddies becomes even more important!

Language learning at Durham

Whether or not you decide to study a Modern Languages and Cultures BA, there are lots of opportunities for you to pick up a new language or continue with one you are already familiar with. The language centre runs classes in a very wide range of languages and many students (depending on their subject!) are eligible to take these classes at no extra cost to themselves as credit-bearing modules within their degree.

Outside of formal classes, there are opportunities to engage with clubs and societies in which your target language is spoken – just because you decide to study another subject doesn’t mean that you have to give up your language-learning ambitions while balancing them with your degree will require good time-management skills, it is absolutely doable! 

Discover more

With Complete University Guide 2022 as high as 3rd for Arabic, Chinese and Japanese Studies and 5th for Italian, German and Hispanic Studies, the School of Modern Languages and Cultures offers expertise in a wide range of subjects, including language, literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation. 

The School also hosts the BA in Visual Arts and Film and has forged a ground-breaking partnership with the BFI bringing students the unique opportunity to learn from industry experts along with University-wide access to the BFI Player. 

Feeling inspired? Visit our Modern Languages and Cultures webpages for more information on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. 

Create your own personalised prospectus here

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Anne-Marie Harding

Hello! My name is Anne-Marie, and I am a first-year History and Russian student at Castle. It’s too early in my degree to say I have a favourite anything, but I do have a soft spot for cultural history. In my spare time, you can find me running the trails in and around Durham.

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