4 things to look forward to about the Languages at York

The department

Now the first thing I’m going to say about the Department of Language and Linguistic Science is: don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a big grey block which was designed in the 60s… Looks aren’t everything after all…

The Department of Language and Linguistic Science is exactly what you expect it to be. It is a relatively small community of a large variety of people. The lecturers come from all over the world from Seoul to Vienna and they cover a broad spectrum of studies. Because of this, you are surrounded every day with people from lots of different walks of life.

The teaching

The thing that really sets Languages at York apart from other universities is that they teach the languages in the language. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what’s the point of learning French or any foreign language for that matter… in English? All the seminars are conducted in the language, except for important notices about exams, which are done in English… They really don’t want you to mess that bit up! Of course, if you really just can’t wrap your head around something, they will explain it in English if need be, they’re not that mean!

The other thing that really drew me to York is the focus on linguistics rather than literature. I mean, sure, you can study 14th century French prose if that’s what floats your boat… but here at York, we steer pretty clear of that and focus more on politics, culture and of course, the study of languages themselves: Linguistics.

What better way to improve your understanding of languages than learning how sentences are constructed in Syntax, learning all the different sounds that make up the world’s languages in Phonetics and Phonology, or learning about how you picked up English in the first place in Language Acquisition? These are just a few modules that are on offer at York, and if you study just one language and linguistics, you’ll have access to even more.

Now, these modules are taught by people at the top of their fields. To the point where you often end up reading the books they’ve published. This seems a bit big-headed but it proves how high-quality the teaching and research being done in the department is.


One of the good things about studying languages is the societies. We have societies for all the main languages offered: French, German, Spanish and Italian, as well as a Linguistics society, of course. I would be tempted to say that the German Society is the best, but only because I run it. These societies offer things like quizzes, meet-ups and conversation classes, so there’s always something to get involved with!

Year Abroad

I’ve saved the best thing about the department for last. Yep, you guessed it. The famous Year Abroad.

While students studying other subjects may enjoy little “field trips” to various muddy fields or stuffy museums, the Department of Language and Linguistic Science truly trumps them all. As part of your four-year languages degree, you will most likely spend your third year living abroad. And for those just studying Linguistics, there are opportunities to study abroad for you too, don’t worry!

Studying at a university

There are a few options for your Year Abroad. Firstly, you can choose to study at a partner university. There’s generally a few from each country to pick from, so you can do some research and see which would be the best fit for you. I would say this is the most stress-free option! Or you can do what I did…

Being a Language Assistant for the British Council

I spent the first 6 months of my Year Abroad as a Language Assistant for the British Council in a town in Saxony, Germany. Essentially in the middle of nowhere or “am Arsch der Welt” as the Germans would say. This is all organised by the British Council via the university and you get a few days’ training before you go to your new home. I found this was a great way to ease me into teaching which was lucky because…

Finding a work placement

I spent the final 4 months of my Year Abroad teaching English for a company in Paris. A company that essentially gave me a lesson plan and sent me on my merry way commuting in, out, up, down and all around Paris pretty much every day. Sounds terrifying, but I just think, if I can sing Baby Shark to a bunch of 3 year old French kids, I can do anything! If you do choose to find a work placement, you generally have to find one yourself. However, the department do regularly post opportunities on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). They are also conscious about making sure the job is a good match for you.

I hope this gives you a little something to look forward to to get you through all your A-Level revision. Good luck!

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Hi! I'm Hannah, a fourth year student here at the University of York studying French and German. I have had a great time at York these past 4 years. I've mainly spent it studying, playing netball and binge watching Friday Night Dinner with my friends.