What’s it like to study languages at university?

By Aoife Martyn

So you enjoy studying languages at school, but how do you know if you’d like to study them at third level? What is studying an advanced language at college like in comparison to the leaving cert? An Applied Languages student is here to give you the answers.

Studying languages at university is different to secondary school but the way in which it differs depends on your teacher at second level. I can only speak as a French student, but from what I can see the leaving cert curriculum is fairly vague (i.e there are no assigned texts) and gives the teacher a nice bit of scope to cover whatever they deem to be useful to give you a more proficient level of the language.

Many second level teachers don’t include literature in their leaving cert classes so you may not have even read a book in french by yourself before but this will be completely different at college where literature will be central to your language learning. Straight away you’ll be handed a French novel and told to read it in your own time which is something to consider. You’ll also have extra literature module options (you can get out of this by doing cultural studies if you wish), but if you’re considering teaching as a future career then you need all the literature credits you can get. Of course, it makes perfect sense that the more advanced you get in your language learning, the more literature you do. Sure, isn’t that exactly how our English language education goes?

There’s also a considerable emphasis on grammar and presentations are everywhere. This semester I have a four modules with presentations which count towards between 5-15% of end of semester grade. Personally, we didn’t do anything like that at school so this was also an adjustment for me, but one from which I have benefited greatly. Of course there are oral exams as well which are more off-the-cuff than the leaving cert ones (and minus the sraithpictuirí you’ll be glad to know).

For Applied Languages, you’ll also be studying linguistics which is defined as ‘the science of language’ and it’s taught through -gasp- English! This really gets into the nitty gritty of what a language is and structure and morphology and phonology and all that jazz, so again not hating grammar is helpful here. From my experience, my love of English at school has really added to my enjoyment of studying languages at college, something I didn’t foresee but of course, English is just another language so it all adds up really.

To sum up, I really enjoy all the various elements of studying languages at university. I always enjoyed grammar and literature and all of the orals and presentations have made me so much more confident speaking my other languages.

So now you know.

untitled-design-13Hey everyone! My name is Aoife Martyn, I’m nineteen and I’m an Applied Languages student from Mayo. I’m in second year and, a year and a half into the course, it’s safe to say I’m loving it!


Applied Languages at UL

By Aoife Martyn

There’s a lot of choice within the Applied Languages course but after careful consideration at the start of first year, I now find myself studying French, Irish and Politics along with Linguistics and two French Literature modules. Although, if time was no object, I’d probably choose to do everything.

Possibly the best thing about the course, and certainly the most interesting aspect to outsiders, is the year we spend abroad. If you’re researching courses anywhere in the domain of Arts and languages, you’ll probably have heard all about Erasmus, which is a study-abroad that we do for the first semester of third year. Co-op though, was one of the main things that attracted me to UL even before I had Applied Languages on my radar. A degree is one thing but work experience along with it? Yes please! And we get to do ours abroad, so I’m moving to Spain after Christmas. How crazy is that?

UL is really a fantastic college. When some of my friends mentioned to me as they were making their own CAO choices last summer that they were thinking about UL, I think I went a little overboard with my recommendations. The beauty of the campus speaks for itself, the lecturers and staff are very helpful and the social life is great, aided by the very active clubs and societies scene.

So how did I make my decision to study Applied Languages? I’d love to say I was one of those people who always knew what they wanted to do after the leaving cert but I’m afraid that wouldn’t be true. During the small slots of free time during sixth year when my mind wandered to the future, I realised I had no idea what kind of job I wanted but I knew that I loved languages. I considered probably every course on the entire CAO at some stage and almost ended up going to a college closer to home, but in the end I chose to come to UL to do a course that I knew I’d enjoy and let the rest take care of itself. So far it has.

More from me later – Aoife

untitled-design-13Hey everyone! My name is Aoife Martyn, I’m nineteen and I’m an Applied Languages student from Mayo. I’m in second year and, a year and a half into the course, it’s safe to say I’m loving it!

My time at UL

By Fay Langley

99089315-76f8-433e-9f54-e0dee2501c43-991-000000e2a72b0b25Well, hello there! My name is Fay and I come from a little Gaeltacht island , the most southern part of Ireland called Cape Clear (Oileáin Chléire) in Co.Cork and THANKFULLY I survived the leaving cert blues last year and made it to UL to study my dream course: Applied Languages! I’m studying Irish, French and beginners Spanish along with Irish literature.

I must admit that I didn’t exactly know what to expect before I came to UL but honestly, UL has exceeded all my expectations. The wide range of clubs and societies, volunteering opportunities to the madness of randomness around campus of people dressed up in Onesys ( how does one even spell that?? Who knows?) is only a few things to name that UL has to offer!

I honestly never felt nervous about starting in UL because I firmly believed college life was what I’d been waiting for all my life ( well 19 years of my life, that is!) And although it sounds quite bizarre but I couldn’t wait to cook my own meals !! Although I’ve had to become considerably independent in various ways such as never having the mother wake me up for those godforsaken 9am starts and of course, the one thing I’ve learned I’ve taken for granted all my life, buying toilet paper.

My time in UL has been a blast so far and I’ve made countless friends for life already!

Slán go fóilin!

Choosing languages at UL

By Róisín Leo

It’s hard to believe that two years ago I was wondering the same questions as many sixth years are wondering now, ‘Where to go to college?’, ‘What course to study?’, ‘What points do I need?’ and most importantly ‘When’s the next night out?’.

When I was filling in my CAO from the of 15 I had decided I was going to study medicine, after many years volunteering with the Limerick Red Cross I was sure that was what I wanted. Then sixth year came and I realised I absolutely hated studying with a passion. I really loved French for my leaving cert, it was one of the few subjects where studying didn’t actually feel like studying so I decided to study languages.

For those of you that don’t know how college works instead of subjects you study modules. So I study five modules- French, Spanish, German, French Literature and Language Technology. Do I love my course? Yes. Is my course hard? YES. My advice to people confused about what to do in college is do what you love and don’t think about the future, if you don’t like your course you’re not going to stay with it for four years in the hope that you will enjoy the job after.

I have to admit although I have my problems with U.L. (like standing for 15 mins waiting to use this computer) it is actually a great college.  Accommodation is a lot easier to find here than in Dublin, Cork or Galway and the campus is beautiful. One of the main reasons I would recommend U.L. to incoming students is the fact that on Thursday I am going for an interview to work in Hamburg for six months on co-op. Co-op is basically work experience during college to make it easier to get a job when you have your degree.

Untitled design (10)My name is Róisín Leo, I am a second year student in Applied Languages in UL and hopefully these blog posts will help you to make a decision on what to study next year.