Why I am Learning Another Language as a Postgraduate Student

By Yikun Xing

Hello everyone! I am Yikun Xing, an international student from China and I study MA Digital Humanities here at KCL. This article will explore my reasons for studying another language as a postgraduate student.

Before I started at King’s College London, whilst browsing a Chinese social media platform called Weibo, I found a video from a King’s alumni. She said that King’s provides free language courses for postgraduate students. This excited me and I decided that I would not only choose  to study at KCL but enrol in this course at the first opportunity. Learning a language is undoubtedly challenging, but it is simultaneously a rewarding and fun experience to use the first foreign language I ever learnt (English) to learn my third foreign language (German).

Germany is a country unique in its history and with world-renowned philosophers and musicians. I hoped to know more about Germany and other german-speaking countries by learning the language of the nation.

The duration of the language course available at King’s is one academic year. Having just finished my first semester of study, I can attest, it is well worth it! Despite the course being online, I immensely enjoyed it.

My first ever German class is etched into my memory. We had not been taught any German yet, but the teacher kept repeating some German sentences. My classmates and I were all understandably confused with this new language, particularly how to mimic and later perfect pronunciations of words in German. It differed significantly from my previous experiences of learning a new language, such as my study of French. Surprisingly, after repeatedly practising the sentence Wie heißen Sie? (What’s your name?) in German, I could say it! It was an invigorating feeling.

I feel the most relaxed in the classes offered at KCL. Not just because no credits are assessed, but because everyone collaborates to practice oral German, which gives me a strong sense of companionship. It is difficult to feel shy about the pronunciation of a word or phrase in a room full of beginners like yourself. Also, our teacher is very patient and friendly, always helping us correct little mistakes we make. One teacher told us that on one occasion she was so excited to be teaching that she accidentally joined the Teams class an entire hour early, only realising her mistake when she found that no one was online!

For many the objective of undertaking this German language course is to achieve A1 level in German —  a target that can only be acquired if students are able to sustain a basic conversation. With this objective in mind, we focus on learning many practical words and simulate settings like a coffee shop in class: ordering on the menu, picking up parcels, etc. The Modern Language Centre provides extra workshops for practice. I have, for example, learnt a German Christmas song and some funny words during these workshops.

For me, postgraduate courses are intense and require a lot of time for self-learning. But taking a German course allows me to take a break from my busy studies, gain more knowledge and insights into German-speaking countries and enjoy the process of learning a language. I would highly recommend postgraduate students to take a language course if possible, it is so much fun!

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