Modern Languages Taster Day - 18 October 2017

Girton College’s Modern Languages Taster Day ran for its third consecutive year on Wednesday 18 October 2017. The day is hosted in collaboration with the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, with the aim of introducing Year 10 and 11 students to the study of modern languages at university level. Almost eighty students from as far afield as South Wales and North Yorkshire travelled to Cambridge for a day of interactive sessions and workshops designed to promote the benefits, personally, academically, and professionally, of engaging in language study.


The day commenced with a talk by Amanda Norman from the Cambridge University Careers Service who spoke about the ways that studying languages increase employability in a competitive job market. Girton languages Fellows Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Claudia Domenici then followed on from this and spoke to our visiting students about the structure of the languages courses available at Cambridge University. Of particular interest to our visiting students was the ‘Year Abroad’ element of both the Modern and Medieval Languages course and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course. We had the good fortune of having present two fourth year Cambridge languages students who had just returned from their respective time living abroad in Italy and Russia, as well as one of Girton College’s own Erasmus students living his year abroad in Cambridge. The session successfully conveyed the wide range of opportunities a year abroad offers.

After a short break to stock up on tea and biscuits the students headed off to a cultural workshop of their choice, giving them an option to learn about the art and propaganda of the Spanish Civil War, be introduced to Linguistics through the Italian language, or explore the great literary works of the German and French languages. These sessions provided a fantastic opportunity to experience the breadth of study involved in a languages degree course.


Over lunch, our visiting students had the chance to get to know each other and speak with current Girton students about their experiences of living and studying in Cambridge. They then attended a language workshop in either French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, or Chinese. Whilst some students opted to develop a language they were already studying, many chose to get a taster of a language from scratch. Students who attended the Chinese and Russian language sessions were introduced to whole new alphabets, with the Chinese language group exploring the origins of Chinese characters and the Russian language group getting an introduction to the Cyrillic script.


The last session of the day gave advice to the visiting students on their A Level choices and gave more of an insight into what studying at a Russell Group university offers. Girton Student Ambassadors from a variety of subjects were on hand to answer questions on societies, student life and their futureplans.

The Modern Languages Taster Day was a great success with many students enthusiastically talking about what they had learnt during their taster sessions. The feedback from the day revealed that more attendees were committed to studying a language at both A Level and university level after having participated in the Taster Day.

Many thanks to all the staff and student ambassadors who took part in the day, and to the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages for helping to fund this event. Please check back on the Girton College website in Summer 2018 when we will announce the details for next year’s event.


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Published: 31 October 2017