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Studying and Courses

Day in the Life: A First Year Languages Student

A languages degree at Queen's is a blend of language and grammar, enhancing your appreciation of culture, and giving you an insight into a new way of life. Plus with the year abroad in the third year, the world is yours to explore.

But what does a Languages Degree at Queen’s actually consist of? Well, let’s find out:

At Queen’s, students can choose to do degrees in one language, two languages or a language with an additional subject (such as Law, Physics, English etc…). As a true linguist, I went for the option of studying two languages: Spanish and Portuguese. Although French and Irish are also offered.
I studied Spanish at A-Level, and so I entered Queen’s on their Post-A-Level course (however Beginner courses are available if you don't have previous language knowledge).


A typical week for a post-A-Level Spanish student compromises of four hours teaching: A text class, a grammar class, an oral class and an Empleo module (Spanish for Business).

  • In the text class, you look through texts that have been making the headlines and learn about the cultures of various Spanish-speaking countries.
  • In grammar class, a focus is made upon cementing essential grammar knowledge from A-Level and introducing you to more everyday uses.
  • The oral class gives you the opportunity to speak in small groups with Spanish-speaking native teachers about a variety of topics, thus increasing fluency and communication skills.
  • And finally, in Empleo class, you will come to understand more about work opportunities available in Spain and Latin America, including the differences in the information and format between CVs in Spain, compared to one you may submit for a job in Belfast, for example.

When it comes to it, these four hours are only the tip of the iceberg. You can supplement your language skills by watching TV and films in the target language, reading in the target language, and of course, speaking in the target language.

Speaking of speaking, the Spanish and Portuguese Society and the French Society host a wide range of activities from weekly Intercambios and Café Français (language exchanges in cafés and bars) to cultural quizzes, wine and tapas nights, and a pub crawl – the societies have got you sorted!

Portuguese for Beginners  

As Portuguese is taught from scratch at Queen’s, students are not expected to have any prior knowledge of the language.
As with Spanish, the student week in Portuguese is split up into four hours’ worth of jam-packed language content!

You will likely have a two-hour slot dedicated to Portuguese grammar. You will learn grammar concepts, have a refreshing walk between classrooms to take it all in, before meeting again a few minutes later with another teacher to really ensure that you have grasped it, ready to put into practise what you have just learnt.

Given the need to communicate efficiently in preparation for the year abroad, writing and oral classes occupy the other two hours, covering a wide range of issues and themes, at a basic level, to begin with, increasing in complexity as the year goes on. 

But you mentioned cultural modules?

Sure did! In one semester, you will likely cover Introduction to Iberian Studies or Introduction to Latin American Studies, and in another, Introduction to French Studies or Introduction to Lusophone Studies. These first-year cultural modules are designed to give students an idea of the wide range of themes available to be explored in future years such as Spanish Golden Age Literature, Portuguese Decolonisation or Linguistics in French, among many others. All lecturers teaching these topics have specialised in these fields.

The Language Centre

If your insatiable appetite for language learning just hasn’t been satisfied by all these opportunities – then sign yourself up for a Language Centre course. With the student fee being just £20 for ten weeks tuition, you too can help revive the dying language of Cornish, learn Sign Language or tackle the linguistic giant that is Korean – all at Queen’s Language Centre. I studied Mandarin Chinese at Levels 1 and 2 in the Language Centre in my first year, giving me an insight into a completely different language from my own, or from Spanish and Portuguese. It was an incredible challenge, with plenty of opportunities ahead. The question is: What will you pick?

To Find Out More about Studying a Languages Degree at Queen's check out the course details here.

Charlie Rae Allen

BA (Hons) Spanish and Portuguese | 2nd year | Brighton, England

Hi! I’m Charlie, and I study Spanish and Portuguese at Queen’s. If you haven’t already guessed by my degree choice, I love travelling – leaving my home of sunny Sussex by the Sea to go away and meet new people along the way, a big part of my reason for coming to study in Belfast. I’m also a Campus Tour guide, so you might see me donning my tour guide jacket, come rain or shine. Hope you find these blogs enjoyable whilst you follow me on my Queen’s journey thus far…