Hi, my name is Carys Rees-Owen and I am a recent graduate of
European Studies and French. Doing a joint honours degree gave me loads of
options, which is why I chose this degree. I studied French, History and
English Literature at A levels – I always knew I wanted to study French at
university, as I loved languages, but I also wanted to specialise in another
subject. European Studies allows you to choose any module from the Politics,
History or Economics department, with one or two compulsory modules in European
Politics every year. I decided to focus on politics modules as I’d always followed
the news and took part in debates.
Choosing Where To Go
The best thing about my degree was the option to spend my
third year abroad in order to improve my French. I had the choice of studying
abroad, teaching English abroad as an English Language Assistant or working
abroad. I wanted a bit of variety, and definitely wasn’t ready to get a proper
job or internship. I wasn’t too eager to spend a whole other year studying either,
but I did want to experience life as a French student. I decided to make a
compromise – I applied to study at a university in Lyon, France for the first
term and then applied to be a Comenius assistant in Martinique, a small French
island in the Caribbean, for the second term. A Comenius assistant is similar
to an English Language Assistant, however with the option to teach another
subject besides English (like politics). All assistant jobs are funded by the
British Council, meaning all my accommodation, food and travel costs were
covered as well as an allowance for living. I also got an Erasmus grant for
studying at a European university, so the cost of going abroad was never a big
worry for me.
My Year Abroad
I moved to Lyon, France’s second biggest city, at the end of
summer 2013. After a lot of searching, I managed to find a flat with another 3
French students just down the road from my university. The next five months are
a blur of cheese, good wine and French cafés. I loved living in France, but
studying there was completely different to how I imagined. Lectures lasted 3
hours long (when in Manchester they last an hour) and it felt a bit more like
high school – there was a lot less discussion and debate than I was used to in
Manchester. I studied Politics modules there, but in French. It was interesting
to see how similar topics were taught in France but from a completely different
angle. I did struggle at first with my courses but as my French improved I
found it a lot easier. I saw such a drastic improvement in my French in such a
short amount of time, and definitely took advantage of discovering a new city.
I then moved to Martinique in January 2014. It’s such a
beautiful island, with so many white sandy beaches, thick jungle and a great
mix of French and local Creole culture existing there. I worked in a high
school for 5 months, working roughly twelve hours a week. This meant that the rest of the time I had
there I was free to do whatever I wanted. I spent my time on beaches, hiking in
the jungle and mountains and exploring the island. Teaching English was
challenging, especially considering that my pupils were only 4 years younger
than myself but it was a really good way to integrate into the local community.
I made really good friends with some of the other teachers there, who taught me
more about the culture and history of Martinique.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better year abroad. I
got to experience French student life, as well as spend months lounging on
white sand beaches in the Caribbean. More importantly, my French improved drastically,
as did my confidence. Moving to a completely different country without knowing
anybody is incredibly challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but the
experiences I had were definitely worth it.
Getting the chance to study abroad isn’t just limited to
language students either – check if your course allows you to study abroad for
a semester! I’d recommend checking out these websites for more information on
what you could do:
Hi, my name is Helen and I have just completed my second
year of undergraduate study at the University of Manchester. The subject of my degree is English Language
for Education, which is a small course but is very specific and has allowed me to
combine my interests in both language and education. In my second year my
degree enabled me to conduct research within two schools that concerned the use
of languages other than English by bilingual and multilingual students in their
school and their education.
As part of my degree in my second year, we were required to
complete a research project. We were given the choice to do our own independent
research or to part take in a research project that the University was already
undertaking. I wanted to conduct my own research, however after much
deliberation on which subject and areas I would like to look into, I decided to
join a project called Multilingual Manchester. This project focuses on
promoting the awareness of language diversity in the Manchester area. After a
few meetings with the organisers of the project, I understood my role was to
take part in and conduct the School Language Surveys. This involved me and a
few other students on the project entering two schools in Manchester (a
secondary and primary school) and interviewing the students about their
language use. This project was great as it allowed me to do research on
language within education, which has always been a large interest of mine.
As I originally wanted to conduct my own research, I decided
to add some of my own questions into the surveys the Multilingual Manchester
project had already provided us. I was particularly interested in the
usefulness of speaking a language other than English in school, whether the
students used it much in school and if they enjoyed using their language. Using
both my own questions and those from the Multilingual Manchester team, I was
able to collect data that told me the range of languages that were spoken
amongst the students in those schools and their opinions on whether they used
languages other than English much and if they liked using languages other than
English. I was also interested in the teachers’ perspectives on the use of
languages other than English in the classroom, and so I emailed a survey to the
teachers at one of the schools.
All the way through completing the project, although I knew
my interests and what I wanted to get out of the research, I was unsure on what
specific question I would have to answer for my report. However, when all the
data I had collected was in front of me, my aims became much clearer and I was
able to analyse my data and produce a report on students’ and teachers’
perspectives on the use and usefulness of multilingualism.
Throughout my degree I have become increasingly interested
with language diversity, especially in the Manchester area, and I had wondered
how this had impacted education. I really enjoyed this project as it gave me
the opportunity to gain experience working in a school and to observe for
myself the impact that increased language diversity is having on education. I
found that the schools were really embracing language diversity, and were
beginning to change their curriculum in order to include and teach the
languages of their students across the school.
As I enter my third and final year of my degree, I have
decided to take this research further and work on it for my dissertation. As
this project progressed, I found myself becoming increasingly passionate about
the subject and the research that I was undertaking. I found it to be an
important piece of research as it displays the change in attitudes toward
language diversity in schools and where in education students find it useful to
speak a second language and where they don’t. I want to carry this on to
possibly see how schools could further integrate second language speaking into
education, or to see the impact that second language speakers are having on
teachers and the classroom.
For more information about the English Language for
Education course at the University of Manchester http://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2015/09173/english-language-for-education-ba-3-years-ba/
For further information about education courses at the
University of Manchester http://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/education/
For further details about Multilingual Manchester http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/
For further information on the
results of the School Language Surveys http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/reports/schools-and-public-services/
From High School I knew I really wanted to study languages and hopefully
pursue a career in translation or interpreting. So I chose French and Italian
at Manchester because I wanted to continue studying French after taking it at A
Level; but I also wanted the opportunity to start a new language from scratch.
Manchester offered several ab-initio languages and I decided I really wanted to
During my time at Manchester I particularly enjoyed the modules which
focused on core language and also linguistics, such as Structures of French
Language, French Syntax & Morphology and The Structures of Modern Italian.
They allowed me to gain a greater and more in-depth knowledge of both languages
whilst benefitting my spoken language and understanding of where modern day
French and Italian both stem from.
After graduating, I planned to work for one year, and now, having gained
this experience, I will go to Italy and study for a Masters in Language,
Society and Communication at The University of Bologna.
My name is Nicola and I’m currently in the second year of an
AHRC-funded PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. My A-levels were in
Spanish, French, History and Mathematics and in 2006 I went on to study Modern
and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge in Scotland.
As part of my first
degree, I spent a year living and working as a translator in the city of
Valparaíso in central Chile. After continuing at Cambridge to complete a
Masters degree in Latin American Studies (specialising in Film and Visual
Arts), I then moved to Manchester in 2011 where I trained and worked as a
secondary school Spanish teacher.
In 2013, I began my PhD in the department of Spanish, Portuguese
and Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester. My research
explores how films influence and reflect the relationship between humanity and
nature in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the
representation of natural landscapes in contemporary Chilean cinema.
Just over half of the world’s population now lives in cities and
this figure is expected to increase to around two-thirds by 2050. When so many
people live in urban environments, what does this mean for how we encounter and
experience nature in the 21st century?
For many of us, the film and television screen is an important
point of contact with the natural world. We watch nature documentaries, travel
programmes, adventure films and cartoon animals, through which we encounter
places, habitats and landscapes that we never experience in real life. The
vision of nature that we see on-screen doesn’t simply reflect our relationship
to nature; it also shapes it.
research looks at films produced in Chile, a country with one of the most
diverse and fascinating natural landscapes in the world. From north to south,
Chile is the longest country in the world, stretching from the world’s driest
desert in the north, through fertile agricultural valleys, chains of volcanoes
and ancient forests, to the frozen expanses of Antarctica in the South. This
huge natural diversity and geographical variety is reflected in its
contemporary cinema, which makes it an interesting and important body of films
for those of us interested in cinema and the natural environment.
central argument of my thesis is that analyses of cinematic landscapes can no
longer be confined to the landscape’s role as a symbol of national identity or
an allegory of some aspect of national history. Instead, natural spaces can be
more usefully discussed as “postnational landscapes”, which are marked by personal,
local and global forces as much as by national cultures.
expanding and refining approaches to landscape and nature in contemporary
cinema, my research contributes to a growing academic interest in how culture
influences our attitudes towards nature and how this impacts on the future of
humanity’s relationship with the planet.
updates about my research activities, follow me on Twitter: @nicolarunciman
watch new films by Chilean directors online, visit: http://www.cinepata.com/
English language reviews and articles on South American cinema, music and art: http://www.soundsandcolours.com/
find out what we’re up to in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
American Studies, visit our blog: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas/
My name is Nicola and
I’m in the third year of a PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. I did
A-levels in Spanish, English Literature and History and went on to study
Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, spending my year abroad in
the north of Chile. After returning to Chile for another year to teach English,
and then doing a Masters in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University
of Manchester, I began my PhD which looks at how members of the British public
engage with Latin American culture in the city of Manchester.
The first thing to
point out about studying Spanish (or any language) at university level is that
it’s not just about the language! While your language skills are obviously
important and will be developed, you will also spend lots of time studying
foreign cultures and how other people around the world live and express
themselves. This can involve studying literature, film, music, art, history,
religion and indigenous cultures. And, in the case of Spanish, you don’t just
study Spain, but also Latin America!
After doing my
undergraduate degree and Masters, and living in Chile, I found myself
particularly interested in how Latin America is perceived in Britain. Latin
American culture, such as salsa classes, music, food and films have become
popular in this country over the past couple of decades, yet Latin Americans are
a relatively small immigrant population in the UK and not many people travel
there, although both have started to increase in recent years. My research
therefore investigates how Latin American culture is produced in the city of
Manchester and how members of the public consume it.
My research focuses in
particular on the annual ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the
Cornerhouse cinema. I analyse how the film festival is produced, the reasons
why they choose some films over others, why they choose particular images to
publicise the festival. By interviewing members of the audience, I can find out
whether these choices influence the way members of the audience envisage Latin
America, or if there are other factors to be considered, such as how the media
portrays Latin America. My research also investigates what attracts British
people to Latin American culture, especially whether it stems from a
cosmopolitan concern to understand others around the world, something
particular to Latin American culture and/or disenchantment with contemporary
British culture and society.
See what you think of the ¡Viva! film festival at
their website: http://www.cornerhouse.org/viva2014?no-redir
For information on studying Spanish, Portuguese and
Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas
For more information on Latin Americans in the UK,
you might like to read this report on the Latin American community in London: http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/latinamerican/48637.pdf