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Summer 2014 | Modern Languages Newsletter

Modern Languages At Southampton we have a reputation for being one of the leading languages departments in the UK and in Europe. We are delighted to be ranked in the top five for languages in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2014, for the eighth successive year, an achievement matched only by Oxford and Cambridge. This reflects the exciting degree programmes that stretch our students academically as well as equipping them for employment. It also reflects our top rating in the National Student Survey.

Inspiring The Next Generation | Page 2 Where are they now? | Page 3 The Volver Project | Page 4

Speaking Up This year we are particularly pleased to have introduced a new integrated Masters programme, MLang, which enables high-flying students to achieve a Masters level qualification at the end of four years. We already have two dozen students studying in the first year of the programme. Barton Peveril Sixth Form College students with their teacher at our November Year 12 Day

Inspiring the Next Generation of Language Learners Studying Modern Languages at Southampton offers lots of opportunities to get involved in activities to encourage younger learners to study languages in Higher Education. We regularly invite students from schools and sixth forms to visit us to get a taste of studying languages at the university. When they come, our undergraduates form panels to talk about their experiences and answer questions. We also respond to requests from local schools to send students to talk about the importance of languages or to run taster sessions. For 2013-2014 we have also launched two new schemes, supported by Routes into Languages (www. Back to School involves students going back to their own schools to promote languages, whilst Adopt a Class allows students to link up with a class in a local school and keep in contact with the pupils during their year abroad. We also pioneered an innovative e-mentoring scheme called My Unispace for which our students mentor pupils online in languages and this project won a prestigious European Award for Languages. Students who are very interested in working more closely with languages in schools and colleges can also opt to take our University of Southampton Ambassador module (UAS) as part of their degree for which they spend 40 hours in a school or college placement supporting teaching. Indeed students who have completed this module cannot speak highly enough of the skills it has given them. As Nick Avery (BA French and Spanish) says ‘ UAS was an experience that challenged me at both a practical and intellectual level and by encouraging me to critically reflect on my own practice it contributed in a new way to my personal development’. Dr Ian McCall Co-ordinator for UAS in Modern Languages


Modern Languages | Summer 2014

We have recently held the launch of our new Institute for Language and Culture, which brings together researchers across these crucial subject areas. Together we are exploring new directions for discovering what makes people and societies tick. We are using new approaches to understanding the deep-seated patterns of human language and the complex interactions through which communities make sense of their lives. Through our innovative teaching and research, we are aiming to change the world for the better. We share our expertise in teaching and learning through collaboration with other universities, in this country and abroad. We work with schools to help students understand the value of learning languages. And we take our research insights into the wider public domain with many non-academic partners. Southampton is proud to speak up for the value of learning languages and understanding cultures. Professor Mike Kelly Head of Modern Languages

French ‘concentration’ camps and Spanish refugees Miguel Oviedo thought he would be greeted as a hero. Instead he was interned in what the French authorities called a ‘concentration camp’. He had just crossed the Pyrenees with half a million other refugees after a bitter struggle in Spain against General Franco and his Nazi German and Fascist Italian backers. The camp was on a barren stretch of beach near Argelès-sur-Mer. Although the barbed wire was in place, little else existed and many people were forced to dig holes in the sand to shelter from the elements. Miguel’s hastily scribbled diary entry for Monday 6 February 1939 ended with the words ‘under these conditions we won’t last for long.’ The story of Miguel and other Spanish republicans is the focus of an intriguing new book, The routes to exile: France and the Spanish Civil War refugees, 1939-2009. It looks at how the French received the refugees, and in turn we learn about how these Spanish men, women and children adapted to life in France.

How did the refugees react to the appalling conditions of these internment camps? How did they participate in the Second World War and the Liberation of France? What aspects of this fascinating history have been commemorated? This study is reflective of our unique and interdisciplinary approach to researchled teaching in Modern Languages. We explore countries such as France in relation to the rest of the world using a wide array of different perspectives. We also draw inspiration from our students and I would therefore like to thank all those who have taken the module FREN 3025 and contributed to this book through our enthralling discussions of immigration in France. Dr Scott Soo Lecturer in French Studies and author of The routes to exile: France and the Spanish Civil War refugees, 1939-2009 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).

Where are they now? The skills our Modern Languages graduates gain from their degree here at Southampton enable them to go on to pursue a wide variety of careers in translation, publishing, diplomacy, teaching, marketing, politics, project management and finance, among many other areas. Dr Darren Paffey Employability Co-ordinator

Imogen in Nanjing



Since graduating, Rachel (BA German and Spanish) has worked in roles across professional services. “I started my career in recruitment and now work for Pricewaterhouse Coopers in one of their people functions. I would not have got the “Gaining the level of fluency I now have in jobs I have had without the communication Spanish was one of the key reasons for me being accepted on to this scheme. I also learnt skills that I have developed. These skills have been invaluable; the knowledge I gained how to work to deadlines, how to formulate about other cultures and the way others ideas and how to use emotional intelligence behave has helped me work successfully with in a professional environment.” people from different cultures in a business “At Southampton I was also able to get context. My German and Spanish remain involved with the Digital Champions and skills which I use in my personal life but now study modules in digital marketing and online I am in such a large company with offices identity which triggered me to work in the worldwide, the languages I speak have really tech sector. I now get to travel to London and made the world my oyster!” Munich occasionally, and after Madrid will be sent to California, Tel Aviv or Sao Paolo, Alex which is great fun!” Having graduated with a BA English & Spanish, Alex is now working at the British Chris Council and International House in Bogotá, Chris graduated in 2012 with a BA in Modern Colombia. “I did my English Teaching Languages (French, Spanish & Italian), and qualification a few months after graduating, is now a Translator and Interpreter for the and have been living abroad ever since. I also Argentine Embassy in London. “I translate translate for the International Relations all manner of documents for the embassy on faculty for one of the Universities. My jobs a day-to-day basis and interpret for events. are varied, dynamic and flexible and most The most exciting has been interpreting for importantly for me, not in an office!” the President of the Argentine Rugby Union when Argentina played internationals against Alex says it wasn’t just the language skills from her Modern Languages degree that England and Wales.” Chris explains the helped her: “the year abroad, cultural value of his degree: “the overall experience awareness and a deep understanding of the helped me so much; from the profound knowledge of the languages that we cultivated dynamic relationship between language, culture and meaning have helped me get to (particularly during the Year Abroad) to the translation classes and above all the inspiring the position I now work in. Critical thinking and the appreciation of diversity- human and teachers that made studying languages such cultural- have also been important.” a pleasurable and mentally stimulating activity.” Flo’s degree in French, Spanish & Contemporary European Studies was ‘pivotal’ in teaching her the skills that won her a post on Telefónica’s Digital International Graduate Programme.



From Southampton to China Throughout school I loved learning French and Spanish and knew that I wanted to continue studying them at university, but also had an interest in starting another from scratch so Southampton’s course really appealed to me. The BA Modern Languages programme at Southampton allows you to study three languages. After 8 years of French and Spanish it was nice to make a fresh start on a completely different language. Chinese, although challenging with its 4 tones and thousands of characters, has been a rewarding and enjoyable part of my course leading me to choose China as my year abroad destination. I have had the opportunity to take part in the 6-week summer programme at Nanjing University in summer 2012 as well as a visit to Xiamen University in March 2013 allowing me to experience two very different Chinese cities. I am now spending my year abroad at Xiamen University with a Confucius Institute scholarship where I continue to study Chinese language as well as finding out about the local dialect, Min Nan, for my year abroad research project. During my time in Nanjing and Xiamen, I have also travelled to Shanghai, Suzhou and the Hakka round houses in the south of Fujian province and hope to use my weekends to visit more of this fascinating country and learn about its culture. You can follow what I am up to on my blog: www.southampton. You can also read about the experiences of other students from the Faculty of Humanities who are experiencing the challenge and excitement of spending a year in another country. Imogen Posford BA Modern Languages (French, Spanish and Chinese)


Rachel Modern Languages | Summer 2014


New MLang Degree Launched The first group of students taking the new Integrated Masters (MLang) degree programmes in Modern Languages have begun their studies. Twenty-six students will follow a four year programme in which the first two years of the degree will follow the same track as the equivalent BA degree programmes. In the third year, however, all MLang students will take courses at one of Southampton’s partner universities abroad as well as following a number of specially developed online modules from Southampton. In year 4, students return to Southampton and in addition to continuing language study at an advanced level, will make their choice from a number of Masters level modules. If they wish, they will be able to develop new interests in Translation and Interpreting, Applied Linguistics and Language Education, as well as in Transnational Studies. At the end of the year they will work on a 10,000 word dissertation with their research supervisor. For more information about the MLang degrees, please look at the relevant degree programmes on our ‘Find a Course’ website

The Volver Project: Mexican-American Returnees For many Mexicans the lure of the US is such that they will risk their lives crossing the Mexican-US border illegally and at great peril to seek the American Dream ‘al norte’. Along with other Latinos who have migrated to the US they are bringing a rich and exciting voice to current US society – from politics or language through to food and music.

opportunities. The Mexican authorities have tended to see the returnees largely as a burden or challenge, without recognising the very real opportunities these people can bring back to their homeland in terms of linguistic and cultural experience. This is one example of the work we do in the Centre for Mexico-Southampton Collaboration (MeXsu) which has links across Mexico and fosters exchanges between our students and staff and many Mexican visitors to Southampton.

Not all find work and settle easily, and many also get forcefully deported back to Mexico. For this project we have interviewed many of the returnees who are back home, in the city of San Luís Potosí in central Mexico, to see in Professor Clare Mar-Molinero what ways their experience enriches or hinders Director of MeXsu their search for work and their re-integration into Mexican life. We find very mixed stories of both gained status and rejection – those who have found prestigious jobs teaching English, as well as those distrusted as ‘unreliable’ as they may wish to migrate again. We also see in the landscape of modern Mexico clear examples of the influence of these returning migrants, bringing ‘Spanglish’ , Latino music and US commodities and ways of life. The challenge of re-integration affects family life, educational experiences and job

Are there any cognitive advantages of being bilingual? Speaking a second language can help you when you travel abroad, when you look for a job or when you speak with people from other countries. What you may not know is that enough scientific evidence now exists to support the claim for a lifelong positive effect of bilingualism. In particular, it has been found that bilingualism improves executive-control processes, those necessary to master the ability to control attention, inhibit distraction, monitor sets of stimuli, expand working memory, and shift between tasks. These are cognitive processes which are developed from early childhood and which we need to function in our lives every day. These are also the same cognitive processes that show the first evidence of decline in aging. Could bilingualism delay the first signs of dementia then? Recent research by the Canadian psychologist Ellen Bialystok and her colleagues shows this to be the case, as the first signs of this condition in bilinguals was 4 years later than it was for monolinguals. This clearly indicates that speaking more than one language has many cognitive benefits which we are now finding out about. At the University of Southampton students have a chance to learn about linguistics and discover more about bilingualism and its benefits by studying optional modules such as ‘Introduction to Linguistics’, ‘Psycholinguistics’ and ‘Second Language Acquisition’ with one of our academic experts in the field. Professor Roumyana Slabakova Dr Laura Dominguez

For further information please contact Recruitment and Admissions Office, Humanities, University of Southampton, Southampton so17 1bj | +44(0)23 8059 9339 humanitiesUoS |

@ModernLangs @HumanitiesUoS |


Modern Languages Newsletter 2014  

Modern Languages at the University of Southampton