A day in the life of a French student

Alice, 3rd year Modern Languages student
Alice, 3rd year Modern Languages student

Studying both French and Spanish means I am never bored as my typical day varies massively. I generally have around 2 – 4 modules a day of which French and Spanish are allocated pretty randomly; on Thursdays, I alternate between Spanish and French throughout the day. This sounds stressful to some people but everyone I know who does dual languages finds it absolutely fine. The non-grammar modules are conducted in English so there is no confusion there and once you’re in class it is quite easy to detach yourself from the other language. Personally, I really enjoy the 50/50 split because I like learning about as many different things as possible and the variety of modules from two different subjects stops me from getting bored. Also, as the language courses are quite small, it allows me to easily meet a lot more people than I would if I were doing single honours.

So far, half my modules are grammar-based and the other half are more cultural. I have three French grammar and three Spanish grammar modules; oral, a grammar lecture and a grammar seminar. In 2nd year, the French grammar lecture is replaced with a translation module. In 1st year, joint honours students didn’t have any optional modules but the French literature module and Global Iberias module gave a really good overview from medieval to contemporary Europe. This year, I had two optional modules for French and for Spanish each semester. We could choose modules with a focus on literature, history, cinema, politics and I chose two history modules. My favourite module so far has been Catalan for Spanish; the opportunity to learn another new language is incredible. The classes are very relaxed with lots of opportunities to chat and a mix of grammar and culture.

Modern Languages Centre on Strand campus

In seminars, there will usually be between 6 and 16 people in a class allowing plenty of participation and chances to ask and answer questions. My smallest class is 4 people in my French oral class and the largest was Modern French history; this module was very popular, so we were in a bigger lecture theatre, but the seminars were still divided into groups of around 15. The non-grammar modules are taught in English whilst the grammar classes are taught in the target language which sounds daunting but helps you improve rapidly. If you really don’t understand the teacher is happy to switch to English. Generally, there will be weekly reading for the modules which are examined through essays and/or an exam. The grammar modules often have weekly homework which can range from a translation to writing a summary of an article.

If my friends are around, I will usually hang out with them between classes. The Virginia Woolf Building common rooms are perfect to go to in between lectures as they always have lots of space, kitchens, computers and plenty of comfy sofas! Another option is going to the SU cafés such as the Vault or a study space in Bush House. One place I really like is the meadow as there are loads of bean bags to relax on, but it is extremely busy at peak times. If you don’t want to stay at university, we are in the heart of London so sometimes my friends and I will grab a coffee or lunch in a café on the Strand or go to Covent Garden which is only a few minutes’ walks away.

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If you liked this, you might like Elizabeth’s day in the life of a modern languages student.

Click here to find out more about modern languages degrees at KCL.

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