Student Testimonials

Katherine Hud - German

How studying language modules at Keele has benefited my personal and professional life

After deciding rather on a whim to take a beginners language module at Keele, I would say that it was the best decision I made during my time at University. Although I wouldn’t have considered myself a linguistic back when I signed up for German 1 in September 2012, since graduating I have achieved a Certificate of proficiency in German and am currently living Spain, working on taking my second foreign language up to a similar level.

During the summer after my first and second year at Keele, I took the opportunity to do a German Summer School at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, which is near Hamburg in the north of Germany, aided by a bursary I was granted by the Language Centre. This experience gave me a taste of what it was like to experience a new culture when you can understand the language of the people speaking it. Although I’d travelled a lot in Europe, nothing compares to getting to know the people and the country as you can when you can do it in the native language.

As I took two summer school programmes, I was able to study German at Keele beginning at Level 1, and completing Level 10 in my last year. Having this level of German, I was accepted onto the British Council Scheme for English Language Assistants. The scheme, although usually for students of languages, was open to me due to the language level I achieved alongside my studies of History and Educational Studies at Keele. I worked for a year in two High Schools in Linz, Austria. Here I was able to study for and achieve the Austria Language Diploma at C1 level. I also made lifelong friends and experienced an array of new things: different food; a different school system; a different way of life. I also learnt a lot about my own language, culture and country, as I was asked to compare, contrast and teach it.

After finishing my year in Linz and achieving my ultimate goal of a C1 certificate in German, I decided to move my focus onto the second foreign language which I picked up at Keele, Spanish. I enjoyed my German classes so much that I decided I wasn’t content with just one language- I wanted to take advantage of everything I could at University. I studied Spanish in each semester for my last two year at Keele, and passed the Level 4 module. Now I’m living in Spain, trying to improve my Spanish as much as possible. Having just a little Spanish allows me to do simple things that would otherwise leave me, like many other expats here, seeming like a tourist. This little bit of Spanish, which I use wherever I can, is appreciated by the locals, who correct me and try to help me with new vocabulary when they can see I’m struggling to say what I want to. Having studied Spanish at Keele, I feel comfortable enough to try speaking, even when I’m not certain of what I’m saying, as I’ve learnt that you have to learn by trying and making mistakes.

When I move back to the UK, I’m going to complete a PGCE and become qualified to teach German and Spanish in UK high schools. Studying languages at Keele not only sparked in me a love for languages but also, in allowing me to experience new cultures by studying and working abroad, it’s really give me a passion that I want to share as far as I can. Studying languages, even just at a beginners’ level, really does open up your world; it shows you that the world view you grew up with isn’t the only one. British people say there’s no point learning a foreign language as everyone speaks English, and it’s true; the vast majority of people I’ve met in Germany, Austria and Spain speak English. But just because they speak your language doesn’t mean that when you converse with them you get to know them, their culture and their country. There really are untranslatable words and even body-language, facial expressions and inference are different in different languages and cultures, and are therefore inaccessible unless you can speak and understand the language. 

Katherine Hud
BA Hons Educational Studies and History

Shula Baker - Italian

"As a mature student I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of studying a foreign language, having not done so for over ten years! However, I found the Italian module structure and content easy to follow and the lessons very enjoyable. Manuela is a very encouraging teacher and ensured the syllabus was highly relevant to day-to-day communication, whilst teaching us little pieces of Italian trivia and customs throughout the module. Studying Italian as an elective module provided me with diversity in my studies, new friends and useful skills for future holidays in Italy, most usefully however I gained a new insight for sentence structure and written and verbal communication which helped me to improve my writing skills for my core degree subject."

Shula Baker
Doctoral Research Student, Primary Care and Health Sciences

Winston Campbell II - German

During my time at Keele I took up German and very glad that I did! The guidance and lessons received in classes during the week were engaging, structured and fun. Teachers provide students with a lot of help and especially in the build up to assessments. I was also able to take advantage of the one-month intensive course that was offered over the summer in August and would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to really push their language learning further! I got to travel to Lüneburg, Germany spent the month of August attending intensive language classes with other students from around the world. We also went on organised trips, sightseeing and enjoyed much of the local cuisine and karaoke and other nights out. Whilst living in Lüneburg, I shared a flat with some of the other international students attending the course which was also really fun. 2 years on from my studies I was able to use the German I've learnt to take part in a job interview that was conducted 50% in German for the Bahamian Consulate in Frankfurt am Main. While I didn't get the job, I do have the confidence to be able to freely interact with everyday life and people in German. 

Winston Campbell II
BA Human Resource Management and International Relations

Zihan Jin - Spanish

"I started learning Spanish as a complete beginner in my first year at Keele, and from my three years of continued pursuit of the language, it enabled me the ability to fluently express myself and explicate my ideas in Spanish. Upon completing Spanish 6 and graduation, I was awarded with a competency degree in Spanish, which gave me the opportunity to undertake a humanitarian internship with a NGO in Mexico. During my time over there, being able to freely command the language greatly enhanced my capacity to directly converse with the local population, in order to conduct various interviews and compile human rights records for the organisation. Post my placement, I went on to found my own non-profit organisation that strives to defend social justice and implement international development programmes across the world. On a recent survey trip to South America, I was able to utilise my Spanish to conduct social and economic assessment across the region, and subsequently, devised plans for future projects in the upcoming year. I believe languages fundamentally forge the connection and bridge understanding between different cultures and countries, this is especially crucial and useful for being citizens of a globalised and ever-shrinking world, of which rewards one with a cosmopolitan outlook in life and ample of opportunities with multinational institutions home and abroad."

Zihan Jin, who graduated in July 2017, International Relations and Media, Communications and Culture with competency in Spanish

Connor Spicer - Chinese

"My Name is Connor and I studied Chinese from level 1 up to level 6
 
Originally I wasn't going to study another language as during my time at school I detested and struggled with foreign languages, however I thought I would give it one final try as having another language can be greatly useful, and that if I didn't enjoy it I would simply change classes.
From the first lesson I fell in love with learning Chinese, the environment was so different tho that I had encountered in school, all of the students in the class wanted to learn the language and put in a great amount of effort which really helped. The class itself was also fantastic, it wasn't just language but also about the culture as well and why they speak in a certain way as well as having constant opportunities to speak and get involved as the class sizes were relatively small, so the experience felt a lot more individual and that I was gaining more from the class.
I'd also like to give a special mention to my teacher, Emily who is possibly the most passionate, patient and helpful person I've ever met in my life, and even during her free time she would help me with my class work and to improve my language even though I struggled. Without her I would never have achieved what I have done so far.
Through my Chinese course I was incredibly lucky and had the opportunity to go to china twice and work in schools there, which was an amazing experience as well as being able to practice my Chinese, which has vastly improved from this experience and to learn more about the culture. This experience has not only given me a wider understanding of the world but also improved my skills for employment which will help me get a good job in the future as well as giving me many contacts across the world.
 
I would recommend learning Chinese, or another language more than anything, its such a rewarding experience and has given me so many opportunities and prospects that I didn't have before, as well as being incredibly interesting and fun to learn."

Learning a Language at Keele