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Careers and Global Opportunities

3 Ways to improve your language skills at Queen’s

Learning a new language at Queen’s can open up the opportunity to live and work abroad and boost your confidence, says Trisha Ong.

Foreign languages can open up new worlds for students and provide a competitive edge in your future career. Why not take advantage of the great facilities at Queen’s to improve your language skills?

1. The Language Centre


Whether you want to learn a new language, relearn your old subjects from high school or actively practice what you already know, you can do it all at the Language Centre. It has full time staff available to assist students with language learning enquiries and to help with accessing and using the variety of Centre resources. It is also located right at the ground floor of the McClay Library.

Language is an important skill that needs to be frequently practiced in order to improve. However every learner is different and unique. We all improve at our own pace. The Language Lab is installed with Can-8, Melissi and TRADOS software and a private study area which students can use on a ‘drop in’ basis. This allows students to practice and learn on their own terms and according to their own abilities. Personally, I always hesitated to learn more languages because buying new books and subscribing to language apps would cost a lot of money. However, Queen’s is overflowing with resources for students- there’s no more excuse, not to learn a language! The Language Centre has an enormous library for self-study in over 30 languages, which includes books, PC materials, CDs and DVDs. Therefore, your language learning can adapt to your lifestyle and university degree. Even a 30-minute visit to the Language Centre each day can drastically enhance your study.

2. Language Classes


For beginners or students who prefer guidance when learning a language, the Language Centre currently run a Language for Non-Specialists programme. This offers over 20 languages at a variety of levels. Students can choose their preferred level and learn alongside other students. These classes may provide a break or distraction from your daily grind, you can learn new things and make new friends. It is never too late to try something new.

Weekly classes usually last two hours and run for 10 weeks. (Usually outside normal university teaching hours). Students are able to apply in October of Semester 1, January of Semester 2 and again in April. Thus, it will not interfere with your timetabled classes or obligations during the day.

I highly recommend students to take advantage of these classes during their time at Queen's, as there is a discounted price for Queen’s student and staff. Additionally, a Queen’s Certificate will be awarded to all students who attend regularly. All language courses now count towards the University’s Future-Ready Award which can count towards your degree and boost your employability or careers prospects after you graduate.

3. Join a society


The fastest and most enjoyable way to improve your language skills is to talk to people. Students have a choice of one-on-one practice through the Tandem Language Exchange or through society meetings.

The Tandem Language Exchange at Queen’s offers students the chance to practice with a native foreign language speaker in a relaxed and social environment. As a fellow language learner, I understand that languages can become long, tedious and difficult. It can be overwhelming trying to understand all aspects of grammar and the immense vocabulary for each language. Nevertheless, you can improve your confidence one step at a time. Through participating in this exchange you can learn to speak like a native and develop your oral skills. Perhaps even make a friend or two, so join the Tandem Language Exchange for free!

Students can also sign up for the language societies at Queen’s, for example, the Spanish and Portuguese society and the French society. You can improve your language skills while attending events such as language exchange events, movie nights and formals. For me, I have been a member of the Spanish and Portuguese Society since I was a first year. I am quite shy, but I was able to meet and talk to the people in my class in an informal manner. For those studying the language as a degree, joining societies means you can seek advice and guidance from older students about your workload. There are less expectations for you to speak perfect grammar with your friends thus you can learn from your mistakes.

Fancy studying a language at Queen’s? Discover our courses.

Photo: Trisha Ong, LLB Law and Spanish
Trisha Ong, LLB Law and Spanish