We have put together some of our student and alumni profiles to give you an idea of what studying Modern Language & Linguistics is like at St Catherine’s College.
George, French & Spanish
“The thing I love most about a language degree at Catz is the sense of progress – that your language is getting better and becoming more and more useful. Reading a couple of books every week in a language which isn’t your own is tough, but so rewarding – especially when you get to discuss them afterwards with people who are experts in their field and are interested in the same things you are. Likewise, translation classes are an enjoyable way of understanding how language works, and having multiple linguists in Catz makes this much more enriching.
The year abroad really brings the degree together because it shows you how far you’ve come and what you can do with your language skills – as well as giving you new and often unexpected opportunities to use them! I found it liberating to spend a semester studying part time in Paris with native French students, also working part time for the government – things I never would have thought myself capable of when I started at Oxford.”
Sian, Spanish & Linguistics
“Something that I particularly enjoy about studying Modern Languages at Catz is that you have a lot of freedom to study topics that interest you most. During your first year, everybody studying the same course takes the same exams, however for the remaining 3 years of the degree there are many different options, therefore you get to tailor your degree to suit your interests and abilities. For me, I chose to focus all of my literature studies on Latin American literature instead of Peninsular Spanish, as I find the socio-political contexts and the history surrounding South American countries much more interesting. Consequently, I’m spending my year abroad in South America! I’m doing 6 months in Buenos Aires, coaching the Argentine Women’s Cricket team, and around 4-5 months studying and teaching English at a university in Santiago that Catz has ties to.”
Tara, Spanish (alumnus)
“After leaving St Catherine’s, I went straight into a Master’s in International Relations at King’s College London. Postgraduate studies allowed me to explore different aspects of academic research compared to my experience in Oxford, including fieldwork in the Calais refugee camp. It also gave me the opportunity to pursue different work experience placements in an effort to decide what career I wanted to pursue; I managed to get placements at BBC History, the House of Commons and Queen Mary University. Having finally finished studying, I have decided to pursue a career in communications, initially working in the international team at Portland Communications and then doing research at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. One of the things which allowed me to gain such varied experience was the language qualification on my CV. Whilst it was not always a requirement for the placement, employers were always keen to have a language skill just in case – and more often than not they did come in useful! Moreover, having analysed language and literature for four years, I have been able to apply these skills to the writing and analysis involved in my current career.”
Tom, German & Spanish (alumnus)
“After I finished my finals, there was a job opening on Michael Portillo’s Continental Railway Journeys. They needed a German speaker to travel around Austria with Michael and the crew, carrying around kit and setting up scenes of Michael learning how to waltz in Vienna. My time at Catz was invaluable in preparing me for the job. Since then I’ve worked on a number of shows, from writing the questions on the daytime quiz show Pointless to developing Current Affairs documentaries for the BBC about American Islamophobia, and young people’s awareness of rape. Right now I’m producing a new documentary series for BBC Two. The wide variety of skills you pick up in a Modern Languages degree at Oxford are perfect preparation for a career in TV.”