Many people worry that learning a language from scratch at university will be too hard, but we offer special beginners' pathways which focus on making language study manageable and achievable. Our beginners' pathways are designed to support you in gaining language skills quickly and ensuring you feel comfortable and confident speaking your new language.
What's it like to learn the languages we offer?
"French has a reputation of being difficult – there are rules and many exceptions which can put people off. But there is a logic to the quirkiness and students will learn the clues to get over these hurdles. It is a wonderful mechanic, full of formulas and patterns.
You will start as a beginner and graduate in French! In your first year, you will learn French to reach A2/B1 (A-level): You will learn how to read, write and speak French. You will soon realise French is very much present in the English you speak every day."
- Lucy Sawyer-Da Rocha, Assistant Professor
"I would say that beginners’ languages require a lot of work, but the pace at which you learn means that you are always engaged and kept interested.
I chose Spanish because of the breadth of countries and cultures that it is spoken in, as well as the idea of spending my year abroad somewhere sunny!"
- Lucy Cooper, Modern Languages BA
"The most exciting part of learning a language was definitely being thrown in at the deep end. With Russian you have to learn a new language and a whole new alphabet from scratch! It was difficult, but really exciting and so rewarding when I started to be able to read and speak it.
I would recommend studying a language even if you don't want to go into a career with languages, it opens so many doors to working abroad or with foreign/international companies, and more than that it's a really rewarding thing to learn, going from not even being able to read to having conversations with natives."
- Molly, Modern Languages BA
"We're very proud of our beginners and would love to welcome you to the group. After all, if you know English, then you already speak and write one Germanic language, so why not try another?
German has some grammatical intricacies that you need to get your head round, but it does all make sense and you see the same patterns again and again. There are lots more connections between English and German than you might imagine - starting with vocabulary, but grammar and the rhythm of the language are linked too."
- Rachel Palfreyman
"Learning Portuguese from scratch is a very rewarding experience. Students will be introduced to a whole new world of sounds, words and culture.
The most challenging aspect will definitely be to learn and use the new sounds of a new language. As all of our teachers are from Brazil and Portugal, students are exposed to native speakers and have designated communicative classes every week designed to expose them to the language to help them become familiarised with it."
- Rino Soares, Portuguese Language Co-ordinator
"Slavonic languages, the linguistic family to which Serbian/Croatian belongs, are highly logical. They are governed by a system that relies on what are essentially language formulas. Once you learn these formulas, it's very easy to apply them. We'll teach you how to break down and analyse sentences to see how they're put together.
Learning Slavonic languages is like putting together a series of blocks. Once you know what the blocks are, they can be built to create to any sentence, and you'll quickly start to notice patterns forming too!"
- Laura Todd, Assistant Professor Russian and Slavonic Studies
"I think at first most people are put off because Chinese sounds and looks like a hard language. But once you get past that initial perception, it really is such a logical language; everything makes sense, and it is extremely mathematical!
The characters are really relaxing to write too. It is a demanding language in that you do have to maintain a good routine otherwise you’ll simply forget characters, but it is equally rewarding when you can see the progress you are making! You can’t beat the surprised faces either when you tell people you speak Chinese!"
- Rosie, Spanish and Contemporary Chinese Studies BA
Explore all our undergraduate language courses
We asked our students why they'd recommend learning a language, this is what they said:
- "It's an interesting degree that opens your mind towards foreign cultures." Vivina
- "Learning a language is a challenge and helps you to think creatively and solve problems" Seely
- "I've heard many talks from future employers on what they are looking for in future candidates - many of the employers I listened to included languages.” Charlotte
- "Learning a language gives you the opportunity to live and work abroad" Seely