What I wish people knew about Modern Languages (SPLAS)

Specific Spanish Language classes are somewhat the backbone of a Spanish degree...
Ciara is a History and Iberian Studies (Spanish) second-year student here at King’s.

Ciara studies History and Iberian Studies, and for this post will be focusing on the Spanish part of her degree (‘Iberia’ referring to both Spain and Portugal, which used to be the same kingdom before Portugal split off!) She discusses some of the things she didn’t know about studying a language as part of her degree before starting university, many of which came as a surprise…

  1. That it isn’t all language classes

As a Modern Languages student, you don’t just take language classes. In the SPLAS department (Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies,) there is a balance between language, culture and history. The Global Iberias module in first year covers a range of topics, which I found really interesting. As a module, it’s a great introduction to cultural themes in the Iberian world, and will help you to decide on what modules you want to take as your degree progresses. I also love that, being part of the SPLAS department, I get the opportunity to learn about Portugal and Latin America, as well as Spain, which isn’t something that I’ve had the chance to do in much depth before.

You can choose to either study or work on your year abroad.
  1. What a Year Abroad actually is

Some people may think that a year abroad is just a year spent studying at a foreign university, or an opportunity to go on holiday for a year. Whilst studying is an option, a year abroad doesn’t have to be that. You could choose to be an English Language Assistant through the British Council at a school in Spain or Mexico, for example. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you could do an internship in a Spanish or Portuguese-speaking country. A year abroad isn’t all work though, there will be opportunities to travel around the country you are in, such as at weekends, and you’ll have time to spend with all of the new friends that you make! A great thing about studying a degree in the SPLAS department at King’s is the number of partner universities that we have globally, as well as the ability to split your year abroad in different locations, which not all universities in the UK offer…

Though a Spanish degree isn’t solely Spanish language, it is an important part of the degree!
  1. That we’d have dedicated grammar and speaking classes

I was very relieved when I arrived at King’s and realised that there were Spanish language classes each week, dedicated to grammar and speaking practice. Grammar classes help to improve your language, one key point at a time. This involves looking at common issues that non-native speakers have, as well as teaching new elements of grammar that you never would have thought about before. Speaking classes are done completely in the language you are learning, and are there to help you improve your spoken language ability and increase your confidence. These classes have a topic each week that relates to a particular part of culture, making them interesting as well as useful!

Independent study is definitely something you’ll be doing more of at Uni – regardless of whether or not you’re on campus!
  1. What independent study would consist of

Whilst there is independent studying related to a languages course, this isn’t necessarily just the reading and essay writing that you may associate with university. The culture and history modules do include plenty of reading and assignments, but when it comes to the core Spanish language module (or, if you choose a Portuguese degree pathway, Portuguese,) a large proportion of the independent work will be revising the material you have learnt in class, completing exercises, or preparing for your next class. For example, I always have to do research for my speaking classes, making sure that I know enough about the topic, and know all of the key vocabulary, so that I can contribute in class.

  1. The benefits for employability

Learning a language at university level makes it so much easier for you to work abroad if you choose to do so, as well as increasing your employability in the UK. Not only do you come away from your degree knowing another language, but you will have learned a lot of transferrable skills, such as good research practice, presenting skills, and of course, effective communication.

Read More:

If you want to hear about what online learning has looked like for us this year at King’s, read Sia’s post by clicking here

If you want to hear Rebecca’s favourite things about studying a Spanish degree combination, particularly at King’s, click here

To browse Spanish and related undergraduate degrees, go to the King’s website by clicking here


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