Off topic: So glad I got that E in German A Level
Thread poster: Susanna Garcia

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Oct 13, 2009

How did you find your 'right' language?
I was all set to study English at uni, just needed BCC in my English, French and German A-levels. So, of course I didn't; S-level (remember those?) and B in English, C in French but E in German. English became a no go although the E was in German, go figure. So, desperate to stay in Cardiff, best friend, boyfriend etc., and having hitched round Italy in the summer, I saw the Registrar and changed to Italian. Obviously because he needed to boost the three people enrolled. Clearly fate and best thing I've ever done.
Boyfriend turned to dust many years ago, best friend still best friend after 45 years and Italian has enabled me always to earn my living whatever my circumstances.
So, how did it happen for you?


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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:16
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
So glad my professor was kicked out of Uni Oct 13, 2009

When I was at Uni, 2nd year, I was studying French and Romanian, and started Polish just for fun. I considered that my major had to be Romanian (hated the professor of French literature, hated the idea of graduating in a common language in Italy). Once I had decided, my Prof of Romanian was kicked out and I had no idea who'd have replaced him. So I turned to Slavonic studies It was hard, it took me 7 years to finish university, lot of stays in Poland, Russia etc., cold winters, but I have 2 rare languages now. And Poland and Romania both joined the EU

Paola


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:16
Italian to English
+ ...
So glad I went to the pub that night Oct 13, 2009

Over 11 years ago now, my best friend persuaded me to come down the pub with her to meet this bloke she had a passion for, who was coming over with an Italian who was in the area for a few months doing part of his doctorate.

Her passion for the other guy lasted about two weeks, our friendship lasted another five years or so and as for the Italian... I married him last May


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Louisa Berry
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:16
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
So glad I got into a grammar school after all! Oct 13, 2009

I didnt quite get high enough marks in my entrance exams to get into grammar school, and was quite happy going to a good comphrensive in the next village. However my mum spoke to my teachers and appealled without telling me, and got me a place at a grammar school. If I'd never gone I would probably never learnt German... and everything would be very different!

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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
So glad I chose Dutch Oct 13, 2009

What a great topic!

When I left school, 80% of linguists went on to do French and German at university. My teachers told me it would improve my chances of getting in if I chose an unusual language combination just to be different, so I did French and Dutch.

I chose Dutch because I already knew German and I liked the fact that I could understand written Dutch without having studied a word of it. And it looked nice on the page, without all those capitalised nouns and accents, and with letter combinations like aa and ij.

It was a really good choice. There were only about six people studying Dutch out of 10,000 at my university, and I was the only person in my year, so my lectures were surreal - it was just me and the lecturer.

I've never had much practice at spoken Dutch, because people always hear my accent and automatically start speaking English. But I charge more for it than my other languages because of its rarity value, so the decision has had a tangible financial benefit.

I'm often tempted to cultivate the widespread misconception that Dutch and Flemish are two separate languages. Every now and then, a client says: "I know you do Dutch, but do you do Flemish?" And I have to resist the temptation to say: "Funnily enough, I'm one of only three people in the world who does, and it's going to cost you an arm and a leg."

[Edited at 2009-10-13 14:24 GMT]


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:16
French to English
+ ...
So glad I was taught by a dragon ;) Oct 13, 2009

I work with just the one very common language, and am quite happy with this choice! At my comprehensive school (there were no other schools in my area, unless you went private) I was lucky to have a rather old-fashioned, scary but kindly teacher of French, who was close to retirement age and who made us do dictation, made us translate out of and into French from battered copies of an old textbook whose name I forget but which was very useful, and hammered English grammar into us at a time when this was largely neglected in the rest of the UK (state) school system. She also entered us all for S-level (apparently it didn't cost the school any extra to do so), which I didn't know existed until a month before exams.

She was also our head of sixth form and had a big influence on most of us. She told us of her adventures at university, and while I now don't think her exploits were that outlandish, they seemed totally scandalous to us at the time. She allowed us to push ourselves - that year, we were allowed to enter for up to 5 A-levels, but the limit two years later after she retired was 4.

So I say thanks, Mrs K.

As for the "right" language - I applied to study French because it was my stronger language (I also studied German up to the age of 18) and because if I applied for just one language I could also study Linguistics, which was starting to fascinate me at that stage. I don't regret that choice, although now it would take moving to Germany to get my German up to standard.


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Lianne Wilson
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:16
Japanese to English
+ ...
So glad I went to Cardiff then bumped into a fellow graduate Oct 14, 2009

I always liked French at school but feared I'd be boed with just one language at uni. So, I applied for a couple of places with new languages added on: notably Russian at Bristol and Japanese at Cardiff. I liked Cardif better and chose it.

I've had the time of my life here, met my partner, my best friends, become a whole new person, found confidence and graduated with a first.

Just after graduation I happened to bump into an acquaintance of mine in the pub, a guy from my French class who was also looking for work. He mentioned that he wasn't getting far with French but had seen a job for a Japanese (which he doesn't speak) translator on the net.

And now, here I am: an in-house translator with a lucky break into a difficult industry.

If I hadn't chosen Cardiff I may never have learned Japanese. If I hadn't, and he hadn't, gone to the pub that night I would never have even known this job existed!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Ich auch! Oct 14, 2009

I started with French at a very early age, shifted schools and started again several times... but loved it. I used to be quite fluent, but have lost it!

Angela Dickson wrote:

I was lucky to have a rather old-fashioned, scary but kindly teacher of French, who was close to retirement age and who made us do dictation, made us translate out of and into French from battered copies of an old textbook whose name I forget but which was very useful
...
So I say thanks, Mrs K.


... She sounds like the history teacher, who took over when the French teacher left a term and a half before our O-Levels. (She was seriously ill, so she had been struggling for months).

I never did get much out of history, but our French was given a thorough overhaul using a book known as Whitmarsh, may he rest in peace!! I kept my A-Level copy for sentimental reasons, and I suspect it may still be lurking in a box somewhere in the attic!! (I took my O levels in 1966.) Miss M., the history teacher, had lived in France and Spain, and went systematically to work. She was totally wasted IMHO trying to interest us in the Industrial Revolution and Victorian social reforms... And I think the whole class came through French better than expected.

As far as I remember, I got an E for history.

I got an 'A' for oral French, but C for the written paper. However, this was my highest grade altogether. I had failed Maths, so a career in science (or medicine ) seemed to be ruled out, and I was talked into doing German A level.

So I started German from scratch in the sixth form. I too scraped through with an E, and then dropped out!

It turned out I had a serious health problem, and when that was sorted, I took a BSc in what was called Information Science with German.

It was not really connected with the summer camp project I went on, but there was a bunch of Germans the first year, and it was fun, so I went again between my second and third years... and met this Dane...

I used to wear rings to have something to fiddle with, but they invariably got lost. I decided that when I lost a particular small silver one, I would forget the Dane!
That was in 1975, and I still have the ring, though it is now too small to wear. I married the Dane two years later, and still 'have' him too, as they say in Denmark!

It's a long story, but without that hopeless E in German things would have been very different!



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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:16
French to English
+ ...
Whitmarsh Oct 14, 2009

Christine Andersen wrote:

I never did get much out of history, but our French was given a thorough overhaul using a book known as Whitmarsh, may he rest in peace!! I kept my A-Level copy for sentimental reasons, and I suspect it may still be lurking in a box somewhere in the attic!! (I took my O levels in 1966.)


Whitmarsh!! That's the one. Several decades later, we were still using those books.


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:16
French to English
+ ...
Absolutely Oct 14, 2009

Angela Dickson wrote:

Christine Andersen wrote:

I never did get much out of history, but our French was given a thorough overhaul using a book known as Whitmarsh, may he rest in peace!! I kept my A-Level copy for sentimental reasons, and I suspect it may still be lurking in a box somewhere in the attic!! (I took my O levels in 1966.)


Whitmarsh!! That's the one. Several decades later, we were still using those books.


Yes, me too. I did my French A'level in 1979 and Whitmarsh was still going strong then! I'm glad I chose to do an applied languages course at university rather than a traditional course, as I'm sure I wouldn't be translating today if I'd gone to Durham, which was my second choice on my UCCA form. Bath was my first, but I managed to get lost when I went down for interview (as a naive 17-year-old who'd never been on a train journey on my own before, let alone changing trains three times!) and then was so upset to be late, and the interview was in French and German, that I completely fluffed it. Durham took the huff at being put down as my second choice, so I ended up going to Salford and loved it. The focus was and is very much on the language, not the literature. They were also very keen on work placements in the year abroad, to the extent that when I found myself a placement with the Natwest bank in Frankfurt, but said to my tutor that I really fancied translating, they managed to get me a job as a proof-reader in a translation agency near Stuttgart and I've never looked back since.

Now my younger son is in the same position of applying to universities to do French and Spanish, and whilst he knows he doesn't want to do a literary course, he has no desperate urge to translate just yet. I'm trying very hard to give impartial advice, but often it is all about what gels at a particular point in time.

Claire


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cardiff Oct 14, 2009

Lianne Wilson wrote:

I always liked French at school but feared I'd be boed with just one language at uni. So, I applied for a couple of places with new languages added on: notably Russian at Bristol and Japanese at Cardiff. I liked Cardif better and chose it.


Bit off topic but

I went to Cardiff too where I had to continue to impress with my stunning German ability for the first year, and was told by Dr White (snigger) that I spoke German like a Chinese. BTW, you're all probably too young to know why we sniggered.

I too still have my Whitmarsh and also Glanville Price's comprehensive French grammar book. I've moved roughly one gillion times since then so it's quite a feat that I still have them.

Suzi


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Catriona Thomas
Local time: 11:16
German to English
An E in German A Level - What Luck! Oct 14, 2009

I really think that Es in German A'levels must show some uncanny ability for the language. I did French, Latin and German at an inner London comprehensive school - yes, that kind of thing was possible in the 1970s! I was due to go to Manchester University to study music with French and German - it would have been a cinch! Instead I travelled to Germany for my gap year, predominantly to study the flute, and have stayed ever since. My German turned rapidly into deepest Bavarian as I was located in Munich. When I went to university in Munich to study musicology (definitely not a cinch), they told me to go and learn proper German. I never thought of translating until much later on in a different environment and am aware that most of my German has been (and still is) acquired intuitively. In the meantime I can pass as bilingual most of the time and work as a translator and interpreter. I freely admit my bad mark in German when talking to young people who may not learn so well at school but pick up the language quickly when on holiday and are not afraid of giving it a go. It can be done the hard way!

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