A number of students in MLC who started learning a language as complete beginners are now in their final year. In this series of posts, we hear more of the challenges and successes of learning a new language from scratch from some of our students of German, beginning with Victoria Napier, who is taking a BA in French and German. As ab initio students, they have four language classes a week. Two lessons take place with a dedicated textbook and support grammar-learning. There are also weekly oral classes, in which students practise speaking, and every week they spend one hour in the languages laboratory to enhance their listening skills. Our ab initio students need to invest many hours in independent learning to consolidate what they’ve learnt in class. It is an intense way to learn languages, but those who do it this way find it extremely rewarding. As they head towards fantastic graduate opportunities, here is how some of them look back on four very successful years at Liverpool.
Being an ab initio student was initially quite daunting and challenging. However, going from beginners level to A2 level within the space of one year was extremely rewarding. Of course, it required hard work and plenty of independent learning, but we received a lot of support from our lecturers and being in such a small class enabled us to get the attention we needed. Learning vocab and grammar can only take you so far with a language and, for me, listening comprehension was extremely difficult. To tackle this I listened to German as much as I could, be it radio or news podcasts.
During my Year Abroad, I worked as in intern with Huffington Post Deutschland. Being thrown into a German-speaking work environment was challenging as it was a completely new experience for me, and the German spoken in the office was unlike that of our classroom. Adaptability was important and I just had to throw myself into this new situation, without worrying if I was making silly grammar mistakes. I learnt a lot through this placement, especially about online media and how it works but most importantly I made some amazing friends.
Before starting my final year, I was slightly anxious as we would now be in the same classes as the Advanced German students. Much to my surprise and delight, I felt on a par with my fellow students and I was tremendously happy to see the progress my fellow beginners students had made. As for my plans after University, I wish to teach abroad – be it English, French or German. I wish to use my German in the future, not necessarily exclusively within a working environment.
Being an ab initio student has definitely presented me with many challenges and it’s a lot of hard work but, without a doubt, worth it in the end.