skip to primary navigation skip to content

The Language Centre  The Language Centre

The Language Centre


Feedback and Testimonials


WhyNotLangs@Cam - Feedback and testimonials

As part of our project we have gathered some comments made by pupils attending our events and also a selection of video 'talking heads' from students at Cambridge who are studying languages for various purposes. We hope that these will inform people making their GCSE and A level choices and considering applying to Cambridge.

WhyNotLangs@Cam - Students testimonials

Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and offer their perspectives on living and studying in Cambridge and on their experiences and motivations for studying languages.

For information on the options they mention, see: Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and the University of Cambridge Language Centre.

Click on the students' names below to load their testimonials. Click on play to start their videos.

Ana, a native speaker of Spanish, is a PhD student in Materials Science who studied for a Master's Degree in Toulouse, France before coming to Cambridge for her PhD. This was made possible because while an undergraduate in Aerospace Engineering in Madrid she had developed the relevant foreign language skills in French and English. She talks about her reasons for adding German (which she is studying at the Language Centre) and how important it is these days for scientists to be multilingual and the opportunities which will therefore be open to her, both professionally and personally. She talks about how College life (she herself is at Trinity College) offers opportunities to mix with a wider range of people and the unique atmosphere of Cambridge because there are people from such a variety of backgrounds.

Bethan is from a 'northern state school' studying German and Spanish at Emmanuel College. She started Spanish from scratch and became fluent in 2 years. She discusses some of the stereotypes of Cambridge student life which can seem off-putting for people from her background and the reality as she has experienced it. She describes the courses she takes and their content and offers advice to students making their GCSE and A level choices about keeping options open. She reflects on the value of languages to future careers and why she chose Cambridge for the personal attention via the supervision system which she describes. She also describes the options for the year abroad and the social benefits of Cambridge student life!

Originally from Barnsley, Chris is studying French and Italian (which he started at Cambridge) at St Catherine's College. Taking languages or coming to Cambridge were unusual choices in terms of his background. He talks about his own passion for languages and the wide career options open to linguists as well as the 'myths' out there about Cambridge student life, the so-called private-state school divide and the selection interview process, which he describes in some detail. He talks about how the Collegiate system in Cambridge helps make going to university less daunting and describes the supervision system of tuition. He also talks about the value of the year abroad and the flexibility of tailoring it to your own interests. His year abroad was spent in Verona, Italy, as an Erasmus student having started the language from scratch.

A native speaker of Greek, Cristina is a PhD student in Classics (focussing on ancient languages) at Peterhouse College. She speaks English, and has been learning Italian and German, intending to take French in the future (all at the Language Centre). She talks about the wide range of good personal, academic and professional reasons for studying languages and also discusses the academic, cultural and social advantages of coming to Cambridge, which welcomes students from such a wide variety of backgrounds. She talks about the close 'family' feeling of College life, not at all snobby! She also reflects on the support available to achieve high academic standards.

Fiona is a final year student in Middle Eastern Studies studying Arabic in combination with French, at St Catherine's College. She wanted both language skills and a wide choice of studies, not just literature, but including history, literature, anthropology and studying a completely different region of the world, which she found in Cambridge. She wants to work in development work in the future and made her choices on the basis of the major demand languages to work in many of the poorest countries in the world. She also talks about her year abroad studying in Egypt, during a politically interesting time, and discovering how important Arabic skills are, and how few people she could have communicated with in English! She talks about the advantages of College life in Cambridge including the 'Hogwarts' dimension.

Johanna is a native speaker of German, studying Japanese and Korean (both from scratch) at Murray Edwards College. She speaks 7 languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Korean! She talks about her motivation to study languages, including mobility, such as visiting North Korea and working in Japan on her year abroad, and for employability. She explains her reasons for coming to Cambridge based on academic expertise, and the opportunity to make choices about studying aspects of culture, history and society, not just language - although she's now fluent in 2 languages she started here. She also talks about her opportunities to study Spanish and Portuguese in the Language Centre. She talks about College life, the inclusive atmosphere of the University, and the academic support available, particularly through supervisions.

Sam came from a state school in Leeds to study Linguistics at Emmanuel College. Although he knew little about linguistics before starting his degree, he was aware that it opens the door to the study of a wide variety of languages, while focussing on topics including how children learn their mother tongue and the psychology of language. He believes his studies will equip him to continue learning languages throughout his life and career. He talks about Cambridge and what he gets out of the social side as well as the 'Harry Potter' factor of the atmosphere!

Read about the video diary project undertaken by first year undergraduates in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.

WhyNotLangs@Cam - Feedback on our events

Impact of the events from 'before' and 'after' surveys 2014 on the numbers of pupils who said they would continue (KS3 & KS4) or intended (Year 12) to study languages:

Year Level Before After
KS3 pupils to GCSE 56% 76%
KS3 pupils to A level


KS4 pupils at AS/A level 26% 55%
KS4 pupils at university


Year 12 pupils at university



Question: What did you enjoy and learn today?

Year Pupils' comments Teachers' comments
Year 9
  • I have learnt that Cambridge University can have a huge impact on my life in the future. I intend to come here.
  • I learnt that taking a language can be useful in a lot more ways than I originally thought and it can be fun too.
Great opportunity for our students to talk to students studying languages at Cambridge University.
Year 10
  • There was lots of information about language at a higher level and I am now considering going to university- which I had not thought of before.
  • It was interesting doing languages with characters other than the English alphabet.

Showed there's more to life than just French and German, useful for every job.
Year 12
  • Lots of useful information which helped me decide how to study languages at the university, whether to do another from scratch.
  • Chinese taster session made me reconsider doing a language degree.
Talk on why languages are important was fantastic.

Year 10 pupils

  • Today was a brilliant day. Thank you! It was broadened by view of languages, cultures and the future path I wish to take.
  • It's made me think more about languages. I was not sure about taking a language for A- level but now I am definitely considering taking one. Thank you.
  • My perception of the university has changed, less scary and seems less impossible to get into.

Year 12 pupils

  • Language that stretched me I very much enjoyed.
  • Spanish - was a fabulous opportunity to learn old Spanish literature, very engaging.
  • It definitely changed my perspectives about the university and my chances of applying for the better.

Read about the fourth in a series of inspirational days for potential language learners, which took place at Magdalene College on Tuesday 25th September 2012.
See more at: Magdalene College hosts inspirational day for language learners

Latest News


Transition Days for KS3 (Y8/9) Students

Thank you very much #Tring School for a great review following our very successful Outreach Event for Y8-9 students on 15-16 January 2018.

Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS)


Series of language tasters