The personal statement is a key component of a university application. With just 47 lines to write, it can be hard to balance everything you want to mention. Here we focus on applications to languages courses – in particular, how you can show your love for languages on your personal statement.
In any personal statement, students need to show why they are choosing their subject. Including a clearly written personal story or anecdote about where your love of languages began is a good way to show your personality. Students should try to avoid cliches and quotations, which are often overused, and instead focus on showing their genuine personality. A good example might be talking about a book, film or holiday which inspired you to learn more about a language. Try to be specific about what it was that sparked your curiosity; perhaps you loved the precise and descriptive narration in Amélie, or hearing the musicality of Italian friends chatting together made you desperately want to learn the language.
Applicants looking to read languages are often applying for joint courses; for example, two languages, language and linguistics, or a language with another subject such as History or Politics. It’s important in this case that students devote space to each subject and show why they want to study both equally. If you are applying to study one language alongside another subject, aim to show how they complement each other.
An excellent way to show your enjoyment of languages is to reflect on what you have read in an analytical way. If you can, show that you have read widely outside of the A Level syllabus. Perhaps, after enjoying Camus’s L’Etranger, you went on to read another of his novels, showing a proactive approach to language learning. Briefly analysing the themes of a book, what you learned from it or how it helped your language skills will show a much deeper understanding that will prove your passion for further study. Depending on the universities you are applying to, it may also be appropriate to discuss films or TV shows you have watched in the target language(s).
In addition, showing how you have engaged with the language beyond the classroom will help you stand out. You could reflect on a trip you have taken, and how this helped your linguistic progress, or offer your perspective on a recent news story or political event in the target language. Students who regularly listen to the news in their target languages benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the country, and this should show through your personal statement. If your extracurricular activities support your application, for example if you attend a foreign language book club or run a Latin club at school, discuss these too. These points will show that you have actively nurtured your passion for languages in and out of the classroom.
Finally and most importantly, be yourself and be enthusiastic! Admissions tutors want to see your personality show in your personal statement, so make sure to be genuine and use honest, clear examples of why you want to study languages.