English and Modern Foreign Languages

English & Modern Foreign Languages Personal Statement Examples

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English Literature (pre-2012 Entry)

English Literature (pre-2012 Entry)

English Literature (2013 Entry)

International Relations & Italian (2013 Entry)

Linguistics (2014 Entry)

Modern Foreign Languages (2014 Entry)

Spanish (2014 Entry)

Spanish Studies (2013 Entry)



English Literature (pre-2012 Entry)

For many years I have been captivated by words: their power to entertain, to shock and to shape our perceptions of the world.  I marvel at the way in which the writer is able to create unique worlds and expand the reader's imagination.  The whole spectrum of literature appeals to me, from poetry, to plays, to the novel and this has stimulated me to write creatively and read widely.  I would like to study English at degree level because it would provide me with the opportunity to continue exploring different genres and to appreciate how literature has evolved over time.


I greatly enjoy the works of Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy and F. Scott Fitzgerald because they contain some of the most beautiful, complex and insightful sentences ever written.  At school I relished the opportunity to study Shakespeare and thrived when reading Hamlet for my coursework.  Although it was a challenging text, I particularly enjoyed analysing the psychological inter-play between the major characters and was pleased when I was rewarded with full marks for my course essay.  In addition, I flourished when undertaking my A2 comparative study of Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' and F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Beautiful and Damned' and attained an A grade.  Studying the work of Keats has sparked a desire to delve into the works of other poets from the English Romantic movement such as Wordsworth and Shelley.

I have found the combination of English, History and Sociology to be both fascinating and beneficial to my educational development.  My AS American History syllabus complimented my study of, 'The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' and 'The Great Gatsby' and taught me the importance of analysing texts in context.  I thoroughly enjoyed my A2 History Personal Study which examined the efficacy of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and was delighted when I gained an A grade.  To evaluate sources and work within the constraints imposed by a word limit were invaluable skills learnt.  Sociology has also helped me to hone my analytical skills which are essential for literary criticism.  I was thrilled when I was chosen to attend a Sociology Master Class at Northumbria University where I was able to put these skills into practice.

At school I participated in numerous extra-curricular activities.  I was a member of the school's Amnesty International group and was elected chair in my last year.  My promotion brought new responsibilities and helped me to develop leadership skills.  It also strengthened my written and oral communication skills.  The group conducted assemblies at local schools and organised fundraising activities.  I was able to empathise and support students as part of my responsibilities as a Peer Supporter and counsellor.  Part of my role was to mentor year nine pupils, in order to assist with their transition from middle to high school.  In addition, my membership of the school's Youth Theatre helped cast a different perspective on literary texts by revealing how they should be performed and its intensive rehearsal schedule instilled self-discipline and time management skills.

My job as a telemarketing operator at a market research company has strengthened my communication skills and my ability to work using my own initiative.  Outside school, I am passionate about the theatre.  I have been fortunate enough to see a diverse range of productions, such as 'Les Miserables', 'An Inspector Calls', and 'Blood Brothers'.  It was also interesting to see two very different interpretations of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: A Ballet Wales production and a comedic version demonstrating that one of the many appeals of Shakespeare is that it can be performed in many different ways.

I am looking forward to the challenge of studying English Literature at degree level.  It is a diverse and stimulating discipline which will impart invaluable skills, necessary for any career that I wish to pursue.


English Literature (pre-2012 Entry)

I want to study English to use my natural love of literature in order to improve my writing skills and develop my understanding of the world with a view to pursuing a career in journalism.

The most recent novel to interest me was 'Martin Dressler: The tale of an American Dreamer' by
Steven Millhauser.  I chose it because it won a Pulitzer Prize, but was delighted to find how much it had in common with one of my all time favourite texts, 'The Great Gatsby'.  I first read 'The Great Gatsby' when given it to study at AS, and I have been fond of the novel ever since.  Both authors, Millhauser and Scott Fitzgerald, depict the self-destructive nature of the American dream, exposing materialistic values beneath a facade of morality and religion.

They both have poetic writing styles with long descriptive passages, conjuring images that really came to life when I studied American history on my A level history course.  An area of English literature I particularly enjoy is researching critical theory and devising my own response to a novel.  One of my favourite critical writers is Tony Tanner. I was directed towards him at the start of my AS course when researching critical responses to American 20th century literature.  Later, I was delighted to discover he had written an essay on colour and symbolism in 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles', one of the novels I had chosen to study for my A2 coursework.  My coursework on 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit' focused on gender repression.  Having only lightly touched on literary theory at school, researching feminism in greater detail has made me eager to find out more about other arguments, Marxism for example. This is something I am keen to do at university.

I enjoyed my history A level and I think it is important that literature is seen within its historical context.  I chose to take literature on to degree level because I particularly like the way a novel, or poem, can provide a personal insight into historical events.  My other A level, maths, has broadened my studies further than just the humanities and has given me skills of working both methodically and analytically.

I am interested in fine art and have attended a life drawing night class for the last two years. Whilst improving my technique, I have developed a critical analysis of my own and others work; a skill I can transfer to my study of literature.  The creative thought process in an art project mirrors that of essay writing: gathering information, analysing it, and then finding the most successful means of illustrating the outcome.

Last summer holiday I spent a week of work experience at the British Museum in the communications department.  This involved carrying out research into how museums relate to the public, evaluating the language on the panels in a variety of museums in London. I wrote up my findings and presented them to the team.  This experience influenced me hugely as I realised the importance of good communication in public relations, and sparked me to consider a career in journalism.  I intend to read widely during my gap year to prepare myself for the course and keep up my awareness of the subject.  For 6 months of my gap year I will be working in France. This experience will give me confidence and the opportunity to work in a new, diverse community.  I also hope to improve my French, a skill I wish to continue to develop in my spare time at university.

It was a nice surprise to have recently been awarded the school English Literature Prize 2008 and I hope to continue my academic success at university.


English Literature (2013 Entry)

English literature is a broad, engaging topic in terms of what it encompasses, making it a highly interesting and applicable field of study to explore.  The opportunity to dive into a book to unpick its characters and themes opens up an entirely new world, thereby providing both a means of escapism and a greater knowledge of the world we live in.

From a very young age, I have held a deep passion for books that has endured throughout my life.  My favourite authors span from Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde to more popular contemporary writers such as Diana Wynne Jones and JK Rowling.  I recently enjoyed theatre performances of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' and 'The Tempest', which really brought the texts to life.  Additionally, visiting the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth has given me a greater sense of the lifestyle and atmosphere presented in Emily Brontë's 'Wuthering Heights'.  My love for English has led me to embark upon an interesting addition to my academic studies: an extended project concerning the famous author JK Rowling, and how events in her life have influenced events and themes in her books.  Although JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series was written for children, in them she draws on a multiplicity of mythological and religious ideas recognisable only by deeper levels of literary analysis.  It is this that I find so fascinating about literature; to discover the reasoning behind the writer's choices one must face the challenge of delving deeper and deeper into their words, and this is a challenge I take great enthusiasm in.

Writing is one of my favourite pastimes; I have had two poems published, and I am part of a writer's site that enables me to receive feedback for my work, which includes poems, short stories and a novella.  To help me write the novella, I read the informative and enjoyable Nigel Watts book, 'Writing a Novel', which I found extremely stimulating and useful.  In particular, at university I look forward to improving my own writing skills and learning to apply them in a variety of different ways.

Along with English literature, I am studying psychology and English language for A2, having already taken German and general studies at AS level.  Psychology has helped me in constructing arguments, enhancing my analytical skills and, subsequently, my essay-writing abilities, all vital attributes where studying literature is concerned.  Whilst analysing fiction, I often apply psychoanalytical tools and theories to the characters in order to better understand the reasoning behind their feelings and actions.  Last year, I participated in a German exchange trip, which involved hosting a German guest for six days.  This was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, and one that has made me a more confident and responsible individual.  In turn, my trip to Germany was worthwhile and rewarding, heightening my independence and ability to adapt to new situations.

Aside from reading and writing, in my free time I enjoy cycling, singing and playing the guitar, and I am a big fan of comedy TV and pop music from the eighties.  I also volunteer weekly at a bookshop for the Tynedale Hospice charity, and the varied work there means I often need to think on my feet.  Working at the Hospice has allowed me to develop personally and has also provided me with a more balanced lifestyle.  My problem-solving and communication skills are frequently exercised, and it is a responsibility I take great pleasure in.

Studying English Literature would be a real delight for me as it is something I have long had an interest in, and to study it in further depth would be a truly welcome and satisfying opportunity.


International Relations & Italian (2013 Entry)

Excited by the prospect of studying International Relations, my belief is that it is crucial to have a detailed knowledge of political climates in order to be in a position to effect positive change in third world countries.  My long term aim is to become a diplomat, a desire born during my school years spent in Catalonia, a place with an explosive political past, a contentious present and an uncertain future.  Attending speeches made by the Independistas, joining the freedom marches and scouring the Catalan news for political stories heightened my awareness of the importance and power of national identity.  To learn more about the role of national identity in other countries and how it affects their relations with each other was the catalyst for my desire to understand and master this subject.  A deeply thought provoking taster university lecture on the effect of market forces and economic relations on war-torn countries in the Middle East confirmed to me that studying international relations is my calling.  Being born in Colombia, yet studying in Catalonia and England, I am able to appreciate and better evaluate the contrasting political and economic landscapes.  Studying History at AS level has made me aware of the importance of learning from the political mistakes of world leaders. 

As a student of drama, the challenge of performing in English, Spanish and Catalan broadened my understanding of my cultural backgrounds and boosted my confidence at public speaking.  It also taught me how to work and learn from my peers.  These skills will enable me to participate positively in university debates.  My studies in English literature have helped me to learn to uncover meaning from and interpret texts effectively.  In Psychology I learnt the importance of both majority and minority social influence.  These are skills which I hope will provide me with a sound foundation for a degree course in International Relations.  Acquiring a modern language as part of my degree course is particularly appealing.  My firm opinion is that being able to communicate with and to appreciate the people and culture of other countries is pivotal in establishing positive relationships.  Helping run a cosmopolitan fair trade market in one of the local schools where I lived in Barcelona increased my awareness of the need for cooperation between countries and equality, especially in trade.  As an effective communicator I welcome interaction with others.  My experiences of teaching English to a mature Spanish student, tutoring AS Spanish students preparing for speaking examinations and assisting GCSE Spanish lessons in school were particularly rewarding.  They taught me the importance of explaining myself clearly and showing understanding.  Fluency in English, Spanish, Catalan and my ability to understand the teacher's perspective helped me to develop my own knowledge of French beyond GCSE when I attended an intensive two month long French course in Figueres.

My sense of responsibility has grown whilst volunteering at the local RSPCA charity shop as I am entrusted with handling money and receiving donations.  Rugby has been my passion from an early age.  Dedication and discipline led to my selection for the U18s Catalonia regional rugby team. I was pleased to play for my school's first rugby team.  This autumn Corbridge Tennis Club sponsored my LTA level one course which I passed.  The experience taught me about the importance of organisation and preparation.  In addition, I work for F.C. Barcelona, modelling their merchandise for their highly successful online video campaigns.

To study International Relations whilst learning new languages is key in pursuing a career for the development of third world countries.  Given this opportunity I would respond with passion and energy.


Linguistics (2014 Entry)

I have always been fascinated by linguistics and the anatomy of language.  My Italian grandparents emigrated from rural southern Italy to the United Kingdom in 1965, and I have been brought up within a family that embraces different cultures and languages.  As a result of growing up listening to my father and his side of the family converse in Italian dialect, a fusion of languages has been very much part of my everyday life.  From an early age I have been interested in socio-linguistics, and I am very keen to study language and identity.

This experience, along with studying A level English Language, has reinforced my determination to study linguistics.  I have enjoyed learning about the mechanics of language, embracing terminology as well as concepts and applying them to my own idiolect.  English Language has given to me the opportunity to study the purpose and power of language in greater depth, appreciating its influence in all areas of our lives including politics, education, advertising and journalism.  I particularly enjoyed an investigation into the use of language in interviews and also very much enjoyed studying accent and dialect, utilising the IPA to distinguish phonetic irregularities from Standard English.  This experience inspired me to read Joan Beal's, 'Language and Region', which was recommended to me by my teacher.  Reading this gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast a professional's opinion to my own.

I have spent some time helping KS2 English classes at a middle school, looking at how language is taught and how children (including EAOL) acquire language.  This has whetted my appetite for studying child acquisition of language at A2.  I have also helped out at events such as school tours.  This has helped me become more aware of how we use language for different purposes.  With this in mind, I am interested in learning about the application of language and how it evolves.

My studies in Media and Graphic Design have also highlighted the diverse usage of language and its specific applications in these industries.  Designing and constructing pieces, such as television adverts and posters, gave me a greater understanding of the importance of rhetorical techniques along with connotations and denotations.  These courses have ignited my interest in media and I hope to pursue a career in this area.  I have been fortunate to have the opportunity of producing a promotional campaign with a graphic design company Gardiner-Richardson to promote The Sill, a new landscape discovery centre in Northumberland National Park.

I consider myself to be a logical thinker and studying A Level Mathematics including statistics and mechanics has allowed me to apply my skills of problem solving.  From this I have followed my interest in analytical study, working with constituents such as representing data and measures of spread.  These skills would be valuable in the study of linguistics: for example analysing and categorising lexis and texts.

I enjoy a variety of leisure activities.  I have played football from a young age and currently play at club and school level.  I have competed at a high standard, playing in the top division of my area as well as attending county trials.  I have also coached football to children, which has boosted my confidence and developed my leadership skills.  I have taken part in athletics, running 1500m for my school and at county trials.  Moreover, I am a keen drummer, and have completed grade 4 at distinction and played in a county rock band.

I am thoroughly looking forward to experiencing the opportunities of university life.  I am personally seeking a new challenge; I hope to bring an enthusiastic yet focused attitude to this next stage of my life.


Modern Foreign Languages (2014 Entry)

Communication defines humanity; either via literature or the spoken word.  A language is more than grammar and vowel sounds; it is the culture and history of the people who speak it; that is what makes someone fall in love with a language.  Anyone can speak a language, but it takes time and effort to really understand one, which makes language learning rewarding.  My aim is to study languages at university and to work with them in the diplomatic service.

Studying both German and French at A level allowed me to compare these contrasting languages and to notice the occasional cognate highlighting similarities between the two, unshared with English.  I also like spotting cognates in other languages, for instance 'barn' in Swedish, meaning child, resembles the Geordie dialect word 'bairn'.  The favourite part of my A level was analysing 'Good Bye, Lenin!', as it unusually focussed on the positive aspects of the GDR.

Seeing how a language fits in to the wider world can be invaluable, so I took a beginner's evening class in Spanish and am learning basic Finnish online to expand my appreciation of French and German.  Last year, I undertook an EPQ to research why language learning is less popular in the UK than in other similar countries, such as Sweden.  I discovered several factors, such as lack of foreign media and unspecialised primary school teachers.

My first exchange to Reims was an inspiration; the differences in daily life are surprising, even as close as France.  I also went to Steinhagen, Germany and then to Rouen and Steinhagen again in Year 12.  When our school hosted a German student, we became friends, I improved my German and have been to visit her twice in Bavaria, giving me the opportunity to notice the differences in our cultures.
I am learning Swedish through working in a hotel in Sweden, where I advise Swedish, German, French and English-speaking guests.  It has been profitable to learn a language through osmosis rather than academic study and it feels more natural.  The hotel has also employed me to translate their website from Swedish to German, French and English.

I enjoyed learning about Russia in GCSE history, so I followed a BBC documentary series about Russia in my spare time.  It struck me as a beautifully interesting and diverse country that I had to learn more about.  The documentary discussed Tolstoy, so I decided to read Anna Karenina, which opened my eyes to Russian literature, something I hope to explore further before starting university next year.  My family hosted two Belarusian nine-year-olds for a month for the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline.  These girls spoke only Russian and to discover more about their lives and to facilitate their stay, I was inspired to learn more about their language.  I decided to investigate Russian by having a one-off lesson with a tutor and wish to pursue Russian further to degree level.

Thanks to attending a bible discussion group, in which we discuss religion and our thoughts on life, I discovered the Taizé Community in France, where young people from across the globe come to share their experiences.  The community's internationality sparked my imagination; the blend of culture and languages made me realise that I want to live and work in an international community.  I enjoy foreign films and language documentaries, such as Stephen Fry's 'Planet Word'.  I tutor a 12-year-old boy with learning disabilities and help his sister with French and Maths.  I also provided extra support at Brownies and Rainbows.  Newcastle is the second home of the RSC and I take the opportunity to see Shakespeare plays, and was able to take part in a school production of Richard III.  I was a writer for Epiphany Magazine and am now a member of the Press This board.

I am spending my gap year in Europe; returning to work in the hotel in Sweden, staying in Bavaria and visiting Russia.  I am so excited about the opportunity to study modern languages and a future of work and life in an international environment.


Spanish (2014 Entry)

All aspects of language attract me; translation, interpreting, linguistics, pronunciation and especially grammar.  I delight in spotting grammatical patterns, creating colour-coded verb tables and making links between the rules of other Latin-derived languages.  I enjoy how learning a foreign language teaches me more about the underlying principles of my own language.  Making such links helps me to understand the context in which grammar rules are used and enables me to apply them more easily.

I am interested in teaching languages as a career as I believe that languages are critical, not only in terms of international communication but also in terms of the acceptance of people of other cultures as individuals; only by knowing the language can we truly understand another culture.  I have enjoyed work experience at Slaley First School and I am currently assisting my teacher in year 9 Spanish lessons which has helped me to understand the challenges and rewards of teaching as well as reinforcing my basic Spanish grammar and vocabulary in order to explain points clearly to students.  Additionally, this has developed my confidence and leadership skills and has improved my clarity of speech in both Spanish and English.

As a member of a book club, I am an avid reader and enjoy reading texts from all cultures.  I want to take my language skills to a level where I could read complex novels in their original language, so that the subtleties and nuances are not lost in translation.  During my GCSEs, in order to develop my Spanish and French reading skills, I read both the French and Spanish translations of Harry Potter which enhanced my knowledge of grammar and expanded my vocabulary.  This year, alongside my exam text of 'Como Agua Para Chocolate', I intend to read 'Santa Evita'.  In addition, I currently use Spanish websites such as bbcmundo and ElPaísdigital for news articles to improve my knowledge of current affairs vocabulary and expose myself to Hispanic and world news.  I listen to Spanish music from artists such as Juanes and Shakira and Spanish radio to develop my listening skills and gain a greater understanding of Spanish culture.  I have also set up a Spanish speaking group which meets weekly to discuss 'Como Agua Para Chocolate' in Spanish as well as the controversial issues that we study in class.  The group is extremely helpful as preparation for exams and has also increased my spoken confidence.

Last year I took part in the Spanish Exchange to Madrid organised by my school.  In addition to being an amazing experience, my spoken Spanish and listening skills improved significantly and the experience was an important factor in my decision to take my study of foreign languages further.  The ability to converse more fluently in Spanish is something I aspire to.  During the visit I formed a strong bond with my exchange partner with whom I maintain regular contact and I learnt a great deal about Spanish history and art during visits to museums in Madrid, Toledo and Segovia.  I have also been lucky enough to visit the Alhambra in Granada, where I learnt about the historical Moorish influences in Spain, and Barcelona where I enjoyed seeing the creations of famous Catalonian figures such as Dalí and Gaudi.  Last year I visited the Sierra Nevada to ski and, staying in hotel with non-English speaking staff, I was able to interpret for my family.

Outside of languages I enjoy kayaking and canoeing, having achieved 3 Star and 2 Star qualifications respectively and completed a Safety and Rescue course.  I play for the school netball team and have helped to win the County Championship twice, following which we went on to compete in two Regional Championships.  I also enjoy singing and am currently studying for my Grade 8 Performance Exam which I hope to take this year.

I am passionate about studying Spanish to degree level and taking up new foreign languages.  I would love to be able to inspire a new generation of language learners.


Spanish Studies (2013 Entry)

I want to study modern languages because I feel that improved communication with people who speak different languages can break down barriers and open our ideas to different cultures.  I would love the opportunity to learn as much as possible about different parts of the world.  I believe it is a shame that while so many people around the world choose to learn English as a second language, very few people in the UK speak foreign languages with a reasonable level of fluency.  As the first language of over 400 million people, I believe that being fluent in Spanish would provide me with countless opportunities to explore the cultures of both Spain and Latin America, both of which are very diverse. 

As I lived in Dubai until I was 8 years old, I have always had an appreciation of the differences which make the world such a culturally diverse place.  This experience has made me keen to travel to as many places as possible to experience the ways in which people live in various parts of the world, and to understand what causes these differences.  Through taking part in my school's Spanish exchange program in year 12, I was able to visit Madrid and stay with a Spanish family, something which has proved to be very useful in my understanding of the Spanish language and culture.  What excites me most about the prospect of studying languages at university is the chance to spend a year abroad, as being fully immersed in another culture would be an invaluable and exciting experience.  I hope to travel around Europe towards the end of my year out in order to improve my language skills.

As someone who is very interested in art, I greatly appreciate the cultures of other countries, and was lucky enough to visit the Prado Museum whilst in Madrid, where I saw works by significant Spanish artists such as Goya, El Greco and Velázquez.  For one of my A level fine art projects I chose the subject of festivals from around the world, and decided to focus on the Mexican "Día de los Muertos".  I was fascinated by what I learnt about this celebration, and was introduced to the visually stunning culture of Mexico.  I believe that the attention to detail which is developed through art is highly transferable to languages, which require a great deal of analysis and application.

I believe that studying English literature at A level has enhanced my foreign language learning, as I have had the chance to develop my analytical and linguistic skills in my first language, which I have then been able to transfer to my learning of Spanish.  I found it intriguing to read Laura Esquivel's "Como Agua Para Chocolate" in Spanish as, having read many different literary texts in English, it was interesting to see the techniques and themes used in Spanish literature, such as magical realism, which rarely appear in English works.

My aspiration for the future is to teach languages to others, either in the UK or abroad, as this would be a rewarding experience and I would enjoy teaching other people a skill which could potentially create many opportunities for them.  During my year out, I am helping out in Spanish classes at school, in order to gain some experience in teaching and to ensure that I keep up my Spanish skills during the year.  In addition to this, I am learning conversational German, in order to broaden my range of languages.  I currently work part-time in a clothes shop which has enabled me to take on a range of other responsibilities.  I believe that this will help me to develop my organisational and business skills and illustrates my reliability.

Last modified: Thursday, 29 May 2014, 12:21 PM