Modern Languages Taster Day 2016: A Review




On the 21st October 2016, for the second year running, Girton College and the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages hosted a Languages Taster Day for Year 10 or 11 students, in order to introduce them to the study of languages at university level. The programme was designed to inspire the students, and showcase the benefits of a languages degree in an interactive way.




Almost 70 students, from 37 different schools across the country joined us on the day.  They were welcomed by Amanda Norman from the University Careers Service, who spoke about the ways that studying languages increases employability in a competitive job market. Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Claudia Domenici, Girton languages fellows, then spoke about the structure of the course at Cambridge, which includes a Year Abroad, during which students immerse themselves in the language through living and working/studying in another country, something which was met by real excitement from our young visitors. They also allayed any fears about starting a language from scratch at university, which is an exciting opportunity that many of our languages students take up. 

After an inspiring introduction to the day, the students took part in a cultural workshop of their choice, giving them an option to learn about the Spanish Civil War, be introduced to Linguistics, exploreGerman Romanticism, or get a taste of Baudelaire in the French Literature session.



Over lunch, students had the chance to speak with current Girton students about their experiences of studying at Cambridge. They then attended a language workshop in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese or Arabic.  Whilst some students opted to build on languages they already studied, many students opted to get a taste of languages that they had never experienced before. The French group discussed the ways in which language is used by different generations, and explored French slang, whilst the Italian went from having little or no knowledge of the language to having conversations with one another in an hour!

Before leaving Cambridge, the students were given advice about A Level choices and aspiring to top universities. They also took the opportunity to ask current languages students about a variety of topics, including A Levels, Years Abroad and their future career plans.

During the day, students were also invited to enter a follow up competition, where they were asked to produce a small piece in a language they were studying which reflected on what they learnt during the day. Many outstanding entries were achieved, and all the young people who entered should be commended on the quality of their language. After much deliberation, Dr Stuart Davis and Dr Claudia Domenici were delighted to pick Esther Watson, from Sandbach High School, as the winner, as they were particularly impressed by the quality of her French and her lively style.  Esther’s entry  (including translation) can be found here.

The Taster Day was a great success, with many students commenting on how much they had learned and enjoyed the day. A highlight is that 79% of attendees had changed the opinion (for the better!) about studying languages, with many of the remainder already planning on pursuing languages. Thanks go to all the staff and students 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 2017 when we will announce the details for next year’s event. If you have any queries about similar events or any aspect of our Schools Liaison and Outreach Work, please contact Claire Nellany at JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING