Oxbridge linguists set the standard

Ambitious linguist Katie Wilson is continuing Emmanuel’s proud tradition of sending students to Oxbridge to study Foreign Languages.

Katie is studying French and German at Oriel College, Oxford, and is the ninth student from Emmanuel College in the last six years who has gone to Oxford or Cambridge to study foreign languages.

“I’ve always enjoyed languages, and they offer so many opportunities at A Level and university,” she said. “I especially enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the exchanges and visits abroad.”

Year 10 and 12 French students now have the opportunity to take part in a residential Study Visit to Paris. This popular programme includes language lessons in the mornings, followed by cultural guided visits in the afternoons. A Study Visit in Year 9 to Normandy offers students an early taste of the culture and language. German students in Year 13 have the unique opportunity to travel to Berlin on an exchange programme which offers an immersive experience of language, history and culture.

“It’s great to come back from a visit abroad and realise how much more fluent you’ve become,” said Katie.

Whilst the courses at A Level were not a walk in the park, support from teachers and languages assistants helped Katie succeed. “It’s been a big jump from GCSE,” she confessed. “With a new style exam and an emphasis on spontaneity, you can’t prepare directly – especially for the speaking exam.”

With fewer and fewer schools offering foreign languages, Katie acknowledged that she had a unique opportunity here at Emmanuel to learn French and German to A Level, and benefitted from encouragement and challenge. “Back in Year 10 I was encouraged to think about applying to Oxbridge when the time came,” she recalled. “Teachers also told me about the Summer School at Oxford,” said Katie. “That was invaluable – it helped me with my personal statement and gave me the confidence to follow my gut instincts.”

Complementing her choice of foreign languages at A Level was Katie’s third subject, English Literature.  And beyond the curriculum Katie indulged her flair for language: she served as Publications Editor during her two years in the sixth form – writing editorials, editing articles and gathering material for publication. “It taught me to write for different audiences,” said Katie, “as well as helping me develop various skills like justifying my own opinions or detecting bias.” All Sixth-Form students take on leadership roles – anything from Sports Coach to Librarian, Charities Co-ordinator to Chemistry Classroom Assistant. These responsibilities offer students the opportunity for leadership and service, furthering their skills while developing their character.

And when she snatched a moment of free time, Katie could be found updating her blog – the most popular Eurovision blog on the net. “The busiest week of the year coincided with the language speaking exams, so I had to take a step back and work on some less time-sensitive material,” she explained. “The blog gives me a real confidence in my writing.”

As Katie throws herself into all the opportunities on offer at university, she is thankful for the study skills she developed here. “Deadlines, priorities… I learnt all that here at Emmanuel. I’m a little concerned that I’ll be losing that, but I made some close friends at the Summer School and I’m confident there’ll be a support network there.”  And what is she most looking forward to? “I’m really excited to go to the tutorials, get to know people, and hopefully work in Paris or Berlin on the year abroad,” she said. “I’d love to work for a newspaper like Le Monde or get an internship in Berlin. I loved visiting Berlin in the sixth form – it felt like somewhere you could settle and live.”

We are privileged to continue working alongside Katie in her role as an Oxford liaison student. Having won two prestigious scholarships, Katie has been spending 100 hours working with potential Oxbridge candidates, including our own students and parents at Emmanuel College.

“I am delighted that Emmanuel’s language students do so well and progress to the country’s most prestigious universities,” said Mr Oliver, Head of the Foreign Languages Department. “At a time when linguists are increasingly in demand, we are proud to be equipping our students with the skills which will set them apart in the future.”