I decided to study Italian alongside music at college as part of my arts degree. In general, I enjoyed studying this subject. However, there were a few things I learned during my time studying Italian that I think prospective language students should consider before applying for any language course.
While I had a hard look at all the modules that the music department offered students before choosing to study music at UCC, I didn’t really take the time to suss out the kind of modules the Italian department offered students, nor did I speak to anyone who had previously studied Italian at UCC.
Since graduating, I have talked to a lot of students and graduates who like me, dived head first into studying a language at university without having a proper look at the course structure or the modules on offer.
While I did enjoy the overall experience of studying Italian at University, I personally found that there was a lot of emphasis on Italian culture, history and literature modules which involved lots of learning off of material when it came to exam time. Don’t get me wrong studying the culture, history and literature associated with the language your learning is both important and for the most part quite interesting. However, in my experience, I felt that there was sometimes more of an emphasis put on these kinds of modules than there was on speaking or writing the language.
While some people really enjoy learning about Italian literature, culture and history, I personally would have preferred spending more time learning how to write and speak Italian. Therefore, depending on your interests, I’d definitely recommend having a look at the modules and course structure of language subjects offered by various universities, institutes of technology, colleges of further of education etc. before choosing which ones you’d like to apply for.
If you’re considering studying a language at college, it’s also definitely worth checking if the course you’re interested in offers students the opportunity to do an Erasmus. I had the option to do an Erasmus as part of my course at UCC. I personally opted to stay in Cork instead of going on Erasmus as there were a few music modules that I wanted to pursue that were only available to me during that specific year. However, I know my classmates who did Erasmus really enjoyed it and benefited massively from the experience.
Even if you decide not do an Erasmus, studying a language at college can also make you an ideal candidate for au pairing or teaching abroad during your summer holidays or after you graduate.
I realise that at this time of year when students are making their final decisions with regards to their CAO, they often choose institutions that appeal to them over courses that would really suit them. While certain institutions may seem more attractive and popular than others, I think it’s really important to apply for courses that offer modules that you have a genuine interest in. Obviously you’re going to have to do some modules that you’re not mad about. That’s just the reality of most college courses. However, do make sure that for the most part, the modules on offer appeal to you.
It’s also worth noting the way different courses assess students. Some courses and colleges are big into continuous assessment whereas others are quite exam focused. For example, some courses require students to do a mix of group assignments, project work, work placement etc. while others might assess students mainly through exams. Take time to think about how you learn best and look at courses that will cater to your style of learning.
Finally, if a particular course peaks your interest but it’s in a different college than the one all your friends are planning to go to, I’d really urge you to apply for it anyway. I know starting a new course in a college where you know nobody may seem daunting, but it can also be really enjoyable and rewarding in lots of different ways!
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