Learning a language alongside your degree is a fantastic way to improve your employability and enrich your overall university experience. Don't just take our word for it, our students have provided their own testimonials that attest to just how worthwhile this opportunity can be.
This Languages for All Presentation will give you all the information about studying Modern Languages at Keele.
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.
BA Hons Educational Studies and History
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.
Doctoral Research Student, Primary Care and Health Sciences
During my time at Keele I took up German and I'm 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, 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 and 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
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.
International Relations and Media, Communications and Culture with competency in Spanish - graduated in July 2017
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 to 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.
Studying Japanese at Keele inspired me to go and study abroad and also increased my career options. Starting with no ability to speak Japanese when I joined Hitomi's Classes as a mathematics student, over 4 short years I developed the language skills to pass the Japanese language proficiency exam at level 2. I am now working in Japan in the IT industry able to speak fluently in Japanese. Modern languages are important skills any student should value, as they broaden your world and enhance your personal value.
Studying Japanese at Keele allowed me a chance to not only take part in a summer exchange programme but most definitely played a part in getting a job teaching English in Japan. Now I’m entering my 2nd year, I’ve just begun working as Project Manager for Kumamoto City; I organize summer camps and English classes for students, along with being the correspondent between the City Board of Education and foreign teachers, so a grasp of the language is a must.
The teaching staff at Keele are so supportive, and even allowed me to continue studying Japanese despite spending a semester abroad. Studying Japanese opened up new job avenues I hadn’t previously considered, and I’m now in a stable job, living alone, and fully supporting myself. I wouldn’t have had the same job opportunities come my way without studying a language at Keele.
I graduated from Keele University with a degree in Business Economics with Competency in French. I studied the French modules at the start of my second year, beginning with French level 5 and ending with French level 8.
After graduating, I decided to further my knowledge in French by living in Lyon for 6 months, doing a French intensive course at the Université Catholique de Lyon. During this time, I built on my proficiency of French that I gained while at Keele University.
In January 2018, after I returned to England I was contacted by a recruitment company who were in need of someone who could speak French and had business and/or a technology background.
I had an all-French interview/assessment day at London Bridge that went so well they secured me that day. I then went to work on a project in Paris for 3 months, with a client called GroupAma (a French Insurance company).
Currently, I still work for this recruitment company but on a different project based in Finland, but without the Keele Language programme, I would not have progressed my French learning and therefore would not have had interest from the recruitment company.
I would just like to thank the Keele Language Centre for their excellent teaching and service. I’m really grateful for the opportunities that it has given me.
Bachelor of Arts Business Economics with competency in French
Throughout my time at Keele, studying Chinese was one of the most enjoyable aspects. My Chinese teacher went above and beyond to ensure that every lesson was interesting and fun whilst still being highly educational and relevant.
The support I received was tremendous. The tutor is highly dedicated to helping every student, not just the best students, to learn not only the language, but the culture behind the language. She is so passionate about what she teaches which inspires the same level of passion in her students. Now, I live in China where I teach English in an area where only a handful of people can speak English. I can honestly say there has been no language barrier (not accounting for regional dialects of course!). I started at Keele from level 0 and now I am living in a country where I can comfortably communicate with the locals.
I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the support and instruction that I received during my time studying a language at Keele. If there’s anything stopping you from learning a language, the worry that you won’t be supported through the challenges associated with language learning shouldn’t be one of them!
BSc Psychology with competency in Mandarin Chinese
I am currently living and working in Japan and will be staying until at least until August 2020. The entire reason for this is due to the language modules I studied at Keele University. I am currently teaching English in a Japanese High School and a special needs school as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). As well as using Japanese almost every day I am also continuing my study in the language independently with the aim of passing some of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) levels in the coming years.
I think my advice would be to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves at Keele. Become a mentor to visiting exchange students, join the society for the language that you are studying, and apply for the exchange programmes. Teachers have a broad understanding of the language, so get as much out of it as you can. My current employment has certainly been as a result of me joining the language course. That is not to say that I did not put the work in, but I had great references, advice and support from the staff within the Centre to assist me along the way.
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, with competency in Japanese
My language learning journey began in 2016. This is when I made my first strides in learning German by attending the courses of Martina Wallner and Ilse Wührer. I had dabbled in the language alone before, but the well-structured courses at Keele which mix vocabulary acquisition and grammar lessons with snippets of culture, music and film have really brought the language alive for me and made me see it as a fun and likewise worthwhile pursuit.
After participating in German elective courses on the side and finishing my degree, I have felt confident enough to take part in a 3-month summer school in Berlin and then finally settle in Vienna. Nowadays, living in Vienna, and being admitted to a master’s degree based on my university credentials acquired in the United Kingdom and my knowledge of the German language, I still think that without a little inspiration from the teachers of the Language Centre at Keele, maybe none of this would have been possible.
Besides opening new doors in my professional career, the other great thing about striving towards proficiency were the people that I have met along the way. Be it from fellow course mates at Keele, or friendly native speakers helping me master the intricacies of the local dialect, I have certainly gained new perspectives on life and even tied a couple of wonderful friendships with language learning as the starting point.
Whether you are going as far as I did with your language journey, or just want to experience a different culture and learn something new for a semester, do not hesitate to contact the Language Learning Centre at Keele and make the most of its competent teachers and helpful staff.
- Alex, Keele University class of 2018 graduate
I graduated from Keele University in July 2020 with an enhanced degree title, as I studied Japanese alongside my degree (First Class Honours BSc Psychology with Neuroscience with an International Year with competency in Japanese). Learning a language while at Keele University was enjoyable, as it gave me the opportunity to make new friends, plus it allowed me to take a break from my degree studies to learn a new skill. Not only did this help my mental health while at Keele University, but it also enhanced my future career prospects.
After falling in love with not only the language, but all things Japan, I decided to pursue Japanese Studies further, and am beginning a Masters in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia in September 2020, which will include learning about Japanese history, art, politics and literature. Since many Masters courses specify that your undergraduate degree must be in a related subject to the one that you are applying for, I would not have been able to enter this course without my enhanced degree title which illustrated my commitment to learning about Japan.
For current students: it may seem daunting to maintain the workload of a language module alongside your degree. I had a few friends who stopped learning Japanese at the end of second year, because they were worried about the time commitment in addition to their degree studies. But all of them say that they regret dropping it before third year, as they were not able to obtain an enhanced degree title and missed the break from their degree subject that language classes provided. It is a hefty commitment, but one which I highly recommend undertaking if you have the drive to learn a new language. You never know where it will take you, or what opportunities will become available to you with a language under your belt. With graduate jobs becoming increasingly competitive, having a language is something that will make you stand out to employers.
It’s crazy to think that I might not have found my passion for learning about Japan if I hadn’t taken Japanese at Keele – the opportunity is there, so you should take it! You never know where you’ll end up.
Naomi Hughes-White, Psychology & Neuroscience with competency in Japanese, Class of 2020
I really enjoyed my time studying Spanish at Keele and it is definitely something that always gets highlighted on my CV. I frequently get asked questions about my language skills and generally people/ recruiters seem really interested. I would also say that the skills I gained from studying languages have been really valuable. Aside from intercultural competence, working towards the enhanced degree title alongside my law degree really taught me how important time management is, and of course that's an invaluable skill in any walk of life!
I would 100% recommend any student thinking about studying a language to do it!
Ematice Mokhtari, Law & Spanish, Class of 2019
The Language Centre at Keele offers a wide range of opportunities to study English and Modern Languages in a welcoming and friendly environment.