University of Manchester – Viva Languages

In January, a group of Year 9 students spent the day at The University of Manchester experiencing ¡Viva Languages!

The School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, based in the Samuel Alexander building, hosted the event attended by groups of students from four different secondary schools on Friday 10th January 2020.

The day consisted of an introduction and talk on “Why study languages?” We discovered just how many languages can be studied at the University of Manchester either post-A Level or from scratch. These included European, Middle Eastern and East Asian languages.

We discovered different ways in which languages can be studied at degree level; one language as a Single Honours, two languages as a Joint Honours or even a language alongside another subject like Business, Sciences or Humanities.

We were asked to consider the opinion that, “We don’t need to learn languages because everyone else speaks English.”

We discovered 6% of the world’s population are native speakers of English, 19% have learned it later in life; whilst a huge 75% speak no English at all (that’s over five billion people). Learning a language gives us the ability and freedom to go out and communicate with some of these people.

Languages have an important role to play in business. French, German and Spanish are the top three languages in demand by UK businesses and the top five sectors Modern Languages graduates work in are;

  • Education
  • Media, Journalism and Publishing
  • Advertising, Marketing and Communications
  • Consumer Goods and Retail
  • Charity, Development, Not-for-Profit and Think Tank

Student Ambassadors from the University shared their experiences with us. Many had spent a year working abroad as part of their degree and others were in the process of planning their year away. They told us how it’s also fun and interesting to learn about other cultures, how people in other countries live and think and what traditions they have.

Students worked in groups with the Ambassadors on a role-play activity with language. They wrote their script in French and after rehearsing their scenes these were filmed to be played back in the theatre at the end of the day.

After lunch, we had a taster session in German, which was sehr gut before going back to the theatre to watch the role-play recordings.


Students really engaged with all the activities and gave it a go, even those who were initially nervous of speaking another language in front of others.

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