“Ooh so you study languages?”
So I am half way through the Easter holidays and seriously wondering where the time has gone whilst somehow making very slow progress through my increasingly long to-do list…revision, essays, grammar homework, visas to sort out, a new passport to get, student finance to organise aghh the list is endless…Nevertheless, yesterday I pretty much finished off my first draft for the last of my big essays which has been looming over me for a while, and today the sun is shining and things are looking fineee 🙂
Oh the joys of essay writing…
Whilst sitting here trying to make the most of what will probably be a couple of hours of very short lived English sunshine, I have been trying to rack my brains as to what to write about that would be useful to any prospective Warwick students out there. I guess some of you might be thinking about confirming your firm or insurance choices if you haven’t done so already or maybe are still waiting for offers? Whatever your position, I thought today I could give you a bit of a more in depth breakdown of my course and what it is exactly I study as a Hispanic Studies and Italian student.
The celebratory stage of craziness that follows the completion of an essay…
I think that a common misconception people have when you say ‘language student’ is that you JUST study language, meaning you probably spend your all your days slaving over grammar exercise after grammar exercise. Actually, to tell you the truth, this was something I too thought to some extent for a while when trying to decide what to study at university, and something that definitely put me off and made me a bit hesitant about studying a language at uni. In fact, my mum will never let me forget the time that during a very stressful period of confusion and uncertainty over what to study at university, after having made list after list of possible courses, universities and pros and cons, when someone happened to suggest languages, in the heat of the moment I insisted that that was something I absolutely did NOT want to do. Oh dear…I am ashamed to admit it now because I absolutely love what I have ended up doing and couldn’t really imagine doing anything else, but at the time I suppose although I have always loved languages, the thought of doing it at university filled me with dread a little. I just had visions of days of endless grammar and the horrors of the dreaded subjunctive I suppose…
What I am trying to say, is that in fact studying a language here at Warwick is not like that at all! Yes of course we do study the Language itself (which obvs does involve a lot of grammar practise) but that is by no means all we do. As I have mentioned before previous posts, aside from our compulsory language module, we get a range of literature, history and cultural modules to choose from as well. It was only really after attending an open day here at Warwick that I really realised this and with the thought of being able to combine my love of languages with literary and cultural studies, PLUS the added bonus of a year abroad, my mind was made up! I remember coming home having thought that I had potentially FINALLY found a course that could suit me.
…yeeeep the sun and that last essay has deffs gone to my head…
Ok, I will stop rambling now whilst posting crazy cat photos and give you a bit of an outline of what I have been studying this year. Here goes…
Modern Spanish Language I (Advanced)
Teaching: Three hours a week
Assessment: One oral presentation (20%), a two hour examination (50%) and an e-portfolio (30%) This is essentially like a blog-type online portfolio whereby throughout the year you are meant to reflect on your progress and language work. You can also include pieces of homework or essays you are particularly proud of and weekly reflections on the virtual exchange programme (see previous posts) we are involved with which has recently been set up with a school in Columbia. I also have been using this as somewhere where I can write about general things that interest me, my opinions on controversial topics raised in the news and essentially as a space where I am able to practise my Spanish writing in an informal and less pressurised way. It is entirely up to you how much you make use of it but as I have found with everything at university, the more you put in the more you get out of it.
Language, Text, and Identity in the Hispanic World
Teaching: A two hour lecture/seminar a week
Assessment: Four x 2500-word essays to be submitted during the year. You then choose two of these essays to revise and submit for summative assessment.
I actually really enjoyed this literature module, during which over the year we explored a whole range of Latin American literature, from the poetry of Gustavo Pérez Firmat, the Chicana literature of Sandra Cisneros, and finally the contemporary Latin American short story. I have to say this last half was my favourite, whereby we were exposed to a whole world of extraordinary, albeit a little bizarre literature from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico, whilst exploring ideals concerning magic realism, the fantastic, the metaphysical, surrealism and feminism within the works of Gabriel García Márquez, Rosario Ferré, Horacio Quiroga and Jorge Luis Borges amongst others.
Modern Italian Language I (Intermediate)
Teaching: 3 hours per week
Assessment: One written test in week 10 of term 1 (5%); one aural test in week 10 of term 2 (10%); one oral exam with individual presentation (15%) in term 3. Writing: One 3hr examination paper worth the remaining 70% of the mark.
Forms & Fashions in Italian Intellectual Culture
Teaching: A two hour lecture/seminar a week
Assessment: Three essays over the course of the year: two short essays of 1500 words and a longer essay of 3000 words.
I absolutely loved this module, this year. It provided a great foundation of Italian literature, history and culture spanning over a range of periods. Essay 1 (25%) was on a choice of film or short story narrative which we covered over the first term. Essay 2 (25%) was on the romantic lyric poetry of Giacomo Leopardi. Although this was quite tricky as the Italian wasn’t exactly the modern, everyday Italian we are all used to reading, it was nevertheless probably my favourite part of the course. And essay 3 (50%) on Renaissance theatre. This is in fact the essay I have just completed my first draft for which will be handed in after Easter. It is the only essay for Italian where we have been able to submit a draft before the final copy and was on Niccolò Machiavelli’s satirical play La Mandragola.
So there you go, what I have been studying this year in a nutshell. Further information on all these modules can be found on the Hispanic Studies and Italian departmental websites. I definitely urge you to go and have a look if you are interested or thinking about studying languages here at Warwick. As you can see, it is much more than just grammar work, this year has really opened my eyes up to a whole range of fascinating literature, culture and history that you just don’t get taught about at school!
Cheeky ice cream on campus a few weeks ago before leaving for the Easter Holidays…