Fulfilling a lifetime goal: Learning an extracurricular language at King’s

The MLC has a huge range of different languages that you can pick up!
Giovanna is a BA Comparative Literature student at King’s College London.

Giovanna is a Comparative Literature at King’s, who has studied both French and Japanese at King’s Modern Languages Centre. She studied French as part of her degree, and Japanese as an extracurricular. In this post, she writes about her experience studying at the MLC!

One of the first things that I was told about during Welcome Week was the opportunity for King’s students to take free or discounted lessons in a variety of different languages. You can take lessons for free if your degree structure has a language component built into it (apart from Modern Language degree pathways, which teach within their own respective departments,) or if you have free optional credits to use in other departments. Or, if you’re interested in taking extracurricular evening classes, you have to pay, though you can get a pretty generous discount. Both opportunities are taken through the Modern Language Centre (MLC). Having always wanted to learn another language fluently, I took French as part of my Comparative Literature degree (in which all students must take up a foreign language anyway,) and Japanese evening classes afterwards!

For French, I was put into a class which perfectly matched my level, following a quick and informal oral assessment with a teacher. I absolutely loved learning French with King’s! I found it much easier to focus and learn in the classes than I had in all the years I studied French at school – I found I was much more passionate about learning the language since I was doing it voluntarily. Having to be more independent with the work meant that I was able to take in a lot more French grammar that I had previously found really difficult. After a semester of doing an intensive course, I came out knowing enough French to go to France, and successfully dealt with a medical emergency when one took my family by storm. I was the only one able to find phone numbers for doctors, read food labels, and explain medical situations. Taking this class also meant I was more than prepared for taking French literature modules, such as Death and Desire in Medieval French Literature, which I studied as part of my Comparative Literature degree.

The MLC has a huge range of different languages that you can pick up!


Deciding to learn another language in my second year, I tried my hand at Japanese evening classes. This time, however, I was learning a language completely from scratch. I had always loved Japanese as I was born there and spent a lot of my childhood in Tokyo, but my family never stayed long enough for me to learn the language (and my child brain could not comprehend grammar!) It was actually a very emotional process for me to learn the language, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than with King’s. The classes were easy to balance with my degree, and I was particularly impressed with the staff’s level of patience, care, and attention to detail. The teachers were always flexible and willing to work around any needs I had – they really are willing to go that extra mile.

The Maughan Library on the Strand Campus, where the MLC is based.

Having started at Level 1 Part 1, (there are three ‘parts’ to each level, and you can study up to Level 6 which would be a near-native ability to speak, read, and write the language,) I am now finishing Level 2 in Japanese! After a year and a half, I already know all the basic characters and have learnt over 50 basic kanji. In essence, this means that I can pick out words or phrases in Japanese TV shows, and recognise words when I see them written down. I really loved this experience and taking these classes has actually inspired me to do a Postgraduate degree in Japanese Studies once I finish my Undergraduate degree, so I can further explore the language! If learning a language has ever been a goal for you, why not study one alongside your degree? I would highly recommend the classes at King’s MLC.

Read More:

To find out more about the King’s Modern Language Centre and the study options as a KCL student, click here

To read Sia’s post on studying a Modern Language as part of a joint honours degree, click here

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