Yii-Ling’s #Linguastars Experience

The winner of our #Linguastars blog competition is Yii-Ling from Newstead Wood School. Read all about their experience of online learning during #Linguastars, our online programme for Year 12 students interested in studying languages at university. It also includes some fantastic recommendations of how to continue your language learning throughout this unique time…

Lockdown. Online learning. Disaster has struck – or so you think.

From analysing la meta-arte of Spanish literature and art of Don Quixote and Las Meninas to an Italian farewell of arrivederci, #Linguastars kept me immersed and invested in languages. Of course, learning ‘on-campus’ compared to ‘online’ does differ hugely, but the programme transcended these barriers, alternating between verbal and written discussions thanks to the chat, or sharing ideas with the whiteboard. It was thrilling – albeit a little disorientating with the absence of seeing your audience – to engage in debates about the responsibility of climate change in the International Relations taster, hold basic Italian conversations and practice my Spanish through discussing the narrative voice of Don Quixote. Following these, I’ve decided I’d like to do a Master’s in International Relations, carrying forward all the transferable skills from a languages degree.

Besides the invaluable introduction to university language studies, where I was excited to find a module that satisfied my curiosity for sociolinguistics – Catalan Language and Culture – learning about the flexibility of languages career opportunities fascinated me; from connecting with your inner CIA agent or working as a Military Language Specialist. I loved listening to the student ambassadors’ experiences of their year abroad and societies, from ‘caving’ to ‘astronomy’. However, what I valued most was exploring languages in different ways and discussing with others’ with the same passion.

#Linguastars gave vibrancy and routine to my otherwise haphazard new norm of lockdown; punctuated by online tutoring for Explore at Home, baking, online lessons, and the proud publication of my school’s first Languages Magazine that I organised, wherein I researched La chanson de geste, comparing Spanish and French medieval poetry. Continuing language learning is truly a feat, but at the same time an ideal way to stay sane and have fun: settling into a book, film, play or music!

I love the excuse to watch more films; the undisputed best way for language immersion. While I am forever indebted to subtitles, it’s amazing to realise you hardly need them anymore. My lockdown highlights are 君の名は, Les Intouchables and Ochos Apellidos Vascos. Watching French and Spanish comedies inadvertently teaches me about their cultures, like the distinctive regional identities of Spain or about Paris class differences.

Having French phone settings expands my technology vocabulary daily. What’s more, some of my friends and I only call and text in Spanish, French or Japanese leading to some… interesting misunderstandings but nonetheless improvements in our fluency, correcting (and laughing at!) each other’s pronunciation while learning useful colloquialisms. I find LyricsTraining a proactive way of engaging with music, practicing listening and writing: depending on the level, I type different parts of the song lyrics as they play. As well, thanks to my knowledge of Spanish and French, I can while away hours residing in Isabel Allende’s magical realist world or Baudelaire’s poetry.

No matter what I’m doing, I like to have a notebook nearby – jotting down new words or ideas, especially now, documenting the historic time we’re all living in.