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Why Study Sociology with a Language at LSE?

The London School of Economics and Political Science, commonly known as LSE, with a QS ranking of no 3 in social science, is undoubtfully one of the most prestigious institutions to study sociology. As a current LSE student, I’d like to share some of my experiences studying for BSc Language, Culture and Society – a joint degree in sociology and language & literature studies.

The well-equipped Academic Faculty

One of the most enticing reasons to study at LSE is the world-leading academic team that you get to work with. Taking the department of sociology, for example, you will have the opportunity to discuss your weekly reading materials with the authors themselves as they are, indeed, the very professors conducting your lectures. You could schedule office hours and discuss any confusion you have with the specific content you are having difficulties grasping or just express your deep sense of admiration. For language courses, many coursebooks are also composed by the language conductors from the language centre, who will ensure these course materials will be utilised to their maximum extent.

The Omni-encompassing course syllabus

From literature to intercultural communication and management; from specialised sociology to social science-focused language course; the Language, Culture and Society syllabus is designed to be cross-disciplinary, which encapsulates multiple correlating fields to nurture holistically developed intellectuals. Students could either opt for a specialised trajectory or have a glimpse of a wide variety of courses to discover their field of interest. Joint honour is no stranger at LSE, yet seldom are there such inclusive degrees that truly enable students to tailor their own study outcomes. For instance, if a student would like to pursue a career in politics, they could opt for Political sociology with Comparative literature & 20th-century political history, along with a politically focused dissertation in their target language. 

Equipped student service

LSE offers a wide range of student services, ranging from a career centre that offers practice interviews and personal consultant services; to departmental reading groups and regular gathering socials; to travel insurance for personal or school trips. The well-equipped student service establishes a tight-knit between the student bodies and the institution, students can find support for almost all aspects relating to their lives at LSE. You will always find there someone professional to talk to for any query you have regarding your studies or your personal well-being.

Who is Language, Culture & Society for?

Despite the preceding vintages of the program, it is, however, not for everyone. Firstly, this is a pure essay-based liberal art program, thus it does not entail any quantitative element at all. If you long to acquire any quantitative skills, it is probably best to give Language, Culture and Society a second thought. With pure Sociology, you will have an outside module that grants you the autonomy to choose a range of optional courses from another department. In addition, if you intend to study a language during your time at university, LSE does offer non-degree language courses you can take each week. Plus, you will also have the option to add the language course to your degree to form a joint degree such as Sociology with French, and International Relations with Spanish.

Yifei is a second-year Language, Culture and Society student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He deduces various social theories to reflect upon student experiences in higher education institutions. He writes in English, Chinese and French.

How To Meet People Who Speak Your Language While Studying Abroad

Going to University is a daunting enough task as is. However, when you are on the other side of the world from everyone you know and love, everything seems a million times harder. Of course, it is important to attempt to learn the language of the country you have moved to for ease. Yet, soon enough the homesickness kicks in, and you want to be able to speak your own language. Here are just a few tips on finding someone in your new country that speaks your language:

Join a Language Class

“I don’t understand,” I hear you cry, “I thought this list was to help find people who speak my language. Why would I learn another one?”

Well, think about it. If you are studying in Italy and attend an ‘Italian for Beginners’ class, chances are there won’t be any Italians there. There is a chance, however, that there will be some people who speak the same language as you!

University Events

Your University will usually hold events for people of the same language to meet. I would definitely attend these events as it seems like the easiest way to meet people who speak your language. If your University does not seem to hold such events, contact them and ask why.

Join a Society

Whether it is a specific language (ie. Spanish Society) or a general International Students society, you are bound to meet someone. If your University does not have a society- make one! Contact them about how to do this.

Plus, if you set up the society yourself, you have more control over it (and it looks good on your CV/resume)

Teach your Language

If you are struggling to find people who speak your language, then hold a club or a class and teach other people! Not only will it help to ease any homesickness you may be feeling, but your students may be grateful for the opportunity to learn a new language.

This is a great opportunity to also teach them about your country’s culture and traditions, and perhaps get them to partake in them!

Say Yes

Seize every opportunity. Those people from your seminar who invited you out for drinks may know someone who knows someone who knows someone who speaks your language. Be a social butterfly, ask around, and get yourself out there.

All this being said, there is a possibility that you will not meet someone who speaks your language. Especially if your language is not widely spoken outside of your home country. Accept this, and work out what your next step will be.

Will you make a strong effort and learn a new language? Will you learn to enjoy your own company? It really is not the end of the world, and you will slowly pick up the language without really trying. Focus on your studies, have fun, maybe get a job, and make the most out of your time studying in this new and exciting place!

Enjoyed this article? Check out our recommendations for inspiring talks to watch if you’re studying languages.

A Guide To UCAS University Clearance

A-Level results day (August 15th 2019) is fast-approaching, and can be a day of celebration, or immense success. Although, it is good to be optimistic about your grades, it is also important to prepare in the circumstance that you do not make the grade.

You may need to use Clearing if you don’t get into your firm (CF) or insurance (CI) choice of universities.

UCAS Clearing may be your second chance to get into University, as it matches students who need a University place, to Universities who need places filling.

We have created a list of top tips to make the most out of clearing day.

Prepare in advance

If you are reading this article before 15th August then congratulations: you are already on the right path to Clearing success! Make a list of Universities and possible courses you’re interested in, this will help when looking at the Clearing listings after they’re published.

Remember: if you are studying a different qualification to A-Levels, then Clearing started in July.

Be present

Physically be present (this is no time for a holiday!) and get time off work. This is an important day and every minute does count.

But also be present mentally. Stay calm, and focus. If you do not get the grades you want then remember that it is not the end of the world and that you can still go to University and do the course you always wanted to!

Check, check, check

Make sure that you are regularly checking UCAS Track, to see if/when you become eligible to use the ‘Add clearing choice’ option, which will appear on your Track Choices screen. Also, keep checking the official clearing listings on UCAS or on university websites.

Ring up

You want to ring universities as soon as you can as vacancies at higher-ranked universities can be filled very quickly! Remember to have your clearing number at hand. Always make sure YOU are the one calling up as this will make the process faster as they have to speak to the candidate. If the university is happy to take you, they will either accept you straight away, or call back very soon to accept you. Clearing can be stressful, but don’t stop trying. If you’re not having much luck on the phone, try sending an email too. Remember, it’s not just you going through this process.


  • UCAS: 0371 468 0 468 (UK callers) or +44 330 3330 230 (if you are calling from outside the UK).
  • The SQA candidate advice line: 0808 100 8000, open from 8am-8pm on 6 and 7 August, and from 9am-5pm from 9-15 August. You can also email: [email protected].
  • Skills Development Scotland’s exam helpline offers advice on careers and university and college vacancies. It will be open from 8am until 8pm on 8 and 9 August and from 9am until 5pm from 10 until 16 August. The number is 0808 100 800

To view the current official list for Clearing open days, click here.

How to Stay Motivated Learning a Language

Motivation is the key to success

Learning a new language is not an easy task. You might have the time and the resources, but without motivation, you’re going to struggle to stay focused. We’ve put together our most fascinating TedTalks to keep you engaged, and teach you how to stay motivated learning a language.

For those of you who don’t know, TedTalks are mini-presentations and speeches given by industry experts. And let’s face it, they’re pretty good! The guest speakers explain their specialised topic for 10-15 minutes, and there is always a lesson to learn.

There are TedTalks about everything, from understanding schizophrenia to climate change, to economics. And when it comes to the subject of motivation, the speeches are… motivating!

  1. ‘Why We Struggle Learning Languages’ – Gabriel Wyner

2. ‘How To Learn Any Language Easily’ – Matthew Youlden

3. ‘Learning A Language? Speak It Like You’re Playing a Video Game’ – Marianna Pascal

4. ‘How Language Shape The Way We Think’ – Lera Boroditsky

5. ‘5 Techniques To Speak Any Language Easily’ – Sid Efromovich

6. ‘How To Speak Like A Native Speaker’ – Marc Green

7. ‘The Benefits Of A Bilingual Brain’ – Mia Nacamulli

So now that you know how to stay motivated learning a language, what will you choose to study next? Check out our other arts and humanities subject guides.

We hope you found these videos as interesting and motivational as we did.

Easy Tips to Help You Learn Chinese: Chineasy Collaboration

This guest blog post comes from Chineasy.com. Learn to read and write Chinese with Chineasy—a groundbreaking approach that transforms Chinese characters into pics through publications and apps

The Chinese language is one of the most difficult languages to learn as it consists of thousands of characters. Each character has its own unique way of pronunciation. However, no need to worry about all these intricacies surrounding Chinese language. nobody learnt anything in a day or two. Have you heard about the girl who learnt to play the piano in a week? Neither have I. Similarly, you can’t expect yourself to be a fluent language speaker in a week or so. However, there are ways in which you can speed up the learning process.

There are a wide range of foolproof tips and tricks to make you learn Chinese as soon as possible. These are more like guidelines than actual rules. Nevertheless, one cannot negate the individual effort required to achieve this feat.

Below are some points to assist you in learning Chinese fast:

Research the Basics

Before you begin learning the Chinese language, do basic research. This research shall entail all the possible and best sources from where you can learn the language. Not only this, your research shall include the answers to a few core questions like:

  • What is the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese characters?
  • Which one of those should I try to learn?
  • What is the brief history of Chinese characters?
  • What are some dialects (if any) of the language?
  • What is my learning goal? And when will I achieve it?

Specify learning schedule

Once you have done the basic research, consider setting up a daily learning schedule. It should be customized as per your learning goals. Stick to these goals and keep a record of all what you learn daily. To learn the Chinese language you need to be regular or else you will forget what you learnt the other day! Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Practice as much as you can.

Give time to memorize characters

Memorizing the characters and reporting them daily is very crucial for learning the language fast. Daily repetition is a must because you forget the characters as fast as you learn them. Therefore, the repetition makes you learn and retain them in your mind permanently. You may make cardboard flashcards with characters written on them to revise the characters.

Distinguish patterns, not rules

Instead of getting wound up in difficult grammar rules, just focus on the patterns associated with different characters. The book titled ‘Intermediate Reader in Modern Chinese’ by Harriet Mills mentions this very fact. In each of the chapters in the book, they have included patterns for each character and they serve as frames to speak fluently. There is no doubt that Chinese grammar is not very complicated. It is free from genders, conjugations, verbs, and complicated tenses. Still, the patterns are way easier to learn the Chinese language fast.

Listen and speak often

Pick a famous Chinese movie or song and listen to their words. Try it with subtitles the first time and afterwards give it a go without subtitles. Unlike trading which helps in building vocabulary, listening actually helps you to speak a language. One of the main issues with Chinese is remembering the tones. Listening makes you ease into remembering the tones.

Speaking to yourself in front of a mirror helps build self-confidence. Likewise, try and find a study buddy to whom you can converse in Chinese. Don’t worry about the mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Speak while making mistakes and you shall soon be able to speak without even a single mistake.

Final thoughts: Chinese can be fun to learn if you keep a schedule and focus on basic research beforehand. Know your goal and set aside a time limit to achieve this goal. Work through the language in a systematic way; like remembering the patterns instead of the vocabulary. Likewise, listen and speak often to absorb different tones of the Chinese characters.

Good luck with your Chinese learning journey! Hopefully, it will be a fast one!

Will Google Translate Kill Language Degrees?

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who admit to using Google Translate, and liars.

Who doesn’t love Google Translate? It’s never been easier to generate every. single. language. at the click of a button – it’s literally magic! But using Google Translate is not always the best idea if you’re trying to learn a new language. It can actually reduce your ability to learn and retain information (sorry language students!). So for those learning languages at university, we’re asking will Google Translate kill language degrees?

Google and AI Accuracy

Google Translate was always a trusty tool, but everyone knows that you’ll never ace an exam with it. It’s never been perfect, as language is often far too nuanced for a computer to understand. But saying this, Google is working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that will improve the quality of translation. This is called Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT).

Google claims that GNMT is already very effective. In a study, they found that GNMT scored 5.43 out of 6 points for its accuracy at translating. A human translation scored 5.5 out of 6. Other developers estimate we will not achieve human-levels of translation on Google Translate until 2060 at the latest.

What’s more, Google Duplex has the ability to accurately replicate your voice and speech patterns in order to make a call. The official demo that Google gave was booking a haircut. This technology was made public over a year ago, so who knows what Google’s AI looks like now.

Sourced from YouTube.

What does this mean for language students?

So if Google continues to improve, will there be any point in learning a language at university? Well, the answer’s yes!

Studying a language is actually good for you, and good for your brain. The study of languages has been proven by Swedish scientists to literally increase the size of your brain, and so helps improve cognitive thinking. People who speak a second language are less likely to develop early-onset dementia.

Studying languages is still the only way to properly understand language, it’s history and culture. Getting a quick translation from Google isn’t a form of learning. It takes much more understanding to retain a language in your memory. Like how to form sentences, different types of words, tenses, grammar, pronunciation and more. It’s the reason that languages are so popular in the first place because there’s a whole field dedicated to the teaching and learning of language.

Career prospects for language students

Speaking a second language can also make you stand out from the crowd, and is often asked as a prerequisite. It can give you the opportunity to travel to different countries to work, and employers like people with flexibility.

Translators are invaluable to companies and tend to make good money. The world is getting smaller and smaller, and people from all kinds of countries need to make good connections around the globe. Though Google Translate is good, it does not yet meet the same standards as human translators. As stated before, humans can understand contexts better, and delicate relations between nations cannot risk being broken by a miscommunication.

Plus, Google is hiring translators in by the hundred in order to help create their accurate AI, and they will not stop hiring anytime soon. People are more likely to trust humans for important and serious interactions, as computers can sometimes make mistakes. Humans can read the context, stress various words for different meanings, and understand idioms better.

Are languages losing their importance?

Learning languages will always be invaluable. School Adviser at the British Council, Vicky Gough, warns that “there is a somewhat alarmingly prevalent notion that foreign languages are just ‘nice to have’ because everyone speaks English anyway. This isn’t the case – only a quarter of the world’s population speaks English and, while that’s clearly a lot of people, it still leaves three quarters with whom we’re – quite literally – lost for words”. Gough is adamant that “learning a language isn’t just a rewarding way to connect with another culture but it boosts job prospects too”.

So is it worth studying a language degree when AI translations are becoming so accurate? Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes, but the face of work for Linguists will change, and so they have to be prepared to adapt to these changes.

After all, we do not want a world full of mistranslations, no matter how funny they can be.

Enjoyed this article? Why not check out our article on how to stay motivated when learning a language.