3 languages? Yes, you can! – OurWarwick

3 languages? Yes, you can!

It is a widely accepted fact in my family that my sister gives very good advice. There have been so many occasions when I’ve been grateful for listening to what she said (such as when I took fresh pasta instead of dried on my DofE expedition, which meant my team could have dinner very quickly whilst other groups looked on jealously, miserably squatting over the dubious stoves as their pasta took ages to cook). Equally, there have been a good number of times when I’ve regretted not taking her advice on board. (Such as on the same DofE expedition, when I didn’t take plasters as she recommended and regretted it when going down a mud slide and being forced to clutch on to stinging nettles to keep from falling).

However, there has been one occasion when I’ve been very glad that I didn’t listen to her advice. Despite her advising that it would probably be too confusing and challenging, I chose to study three languages at university. While it has been difficult, I wouldn’t change my choice for anything, and so I thought it would be a good idea to write about why studying three languages has been the best choice for me (and quite possibly for you too!).

 1. The joy of experiencing another whole new language and culture.  Ok, maybe this sounds like something you’d read on a tourist brochure advertising some ridiculously overpriced package holiday. *Cough* TUI. However, it really can’t be understated just how exciting it is to suddenly go from just hearing foreign music, foreign TV, foreign radio, someone talking in front of you on the bus – to actually understanding quite a bit. The joy of opening a newspaper (or ok fine, the news app on your phone) in a completely new language and being able to get an insight into what’s happening in that country. And the joy of just experiencing a whole new phonetic system, discovering new idioms, a new style. 

2.More diversity with work (*cough*, and fewer extended essays). Studying three languages at Warwick means you have three language modules and one culture module a year. This year, I’ve had about 11 seminars a week – while it sounds like a lot compared to other degrees, and especially a single-language Modern Languages degree, I also have much fewer lectures (less than 2 hours a week normally) than other alternatives. Importantly, I actually really prefer having so many seminars, as constantly alternating between oral, writing, grammar, and translation classes mean I don’t get the chance to get bored as I’m always practising so many different skills. Plus, doing just one culture module means I don’t have to write that many long culture essays in English. If you love writing extended essays about film/literature/history etc. (if so, please tell me your secrets) then perhaps doing more culture modules would suit you better, but if not, taking three languages could be a great option!

3. Transferable skills from previous languages. Anyone who has taken both French and Spanish for A level will know that a lot of the topics/grammar/vocabulary you learn in one language can be easily applied to the other, and the benefits are just amplified for a third language at university! Italian especially is a very similar language to French and Spanish and having previous knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary in these languages has helped me pick up Italian much quicker. Moreover, it has been great to already have ideas about how to integrate more complex language into writing tasks for each topic, as my topics in first year Italian resemble French/Spanish GCSE topics quite a lot.

4.More travel/ job opportunities. During and beyond the Year Abroad, being able to speak three foreign languages widens the range of countries in which you can study or work. Plus, having the knowledge of an extra language on your CV can be like the cherry on the cake to employers in multiple business fields – providing the extra reason to hire you over another candidate.

However, it is important for me to highlight that studying three languages might not work for everyone. For example, if you have only studied one language before, getting your head around so many different grammar rules for two ab-initio languages in one go might be too confusing. I definitely still get confused taking just one ab-initio language! This said, the harder you work at drilling down grammar, the less often slip-ups happen. Also, depending on your specific language-combination, the work may not be as easily transferable. For example, French, Spanish and Italian all have roots in Latin and are much more similar languages than say German, Japanese, and Italian – but don’t forget that general strategies for learning grammar/ vocabulary etc. acquired from your previous language(s) are still very useful when learning any second/third language!  

So, the upshot is essentially: choose the course combination that you think is most suitable for you, and choose what you think you’ll enjoy! When you’re motivated, you can achieve what you set your mind to, so don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t: siblings don’t always know best!😉

Thanks for reading: feel free to comment below, or you can message me with any questions!

Priya x

Leave a comment

   or Log in?

Ask a