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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Kirsty reflects on her time at Linguastars

Yorkshire and the Humber

Kirsty Giffen, a Year 12 French and Spanish student from a school in the West Midlands, thinks back on her visit to the university at the beginning of July. Here's what she said:

If I had to sum up Linguastars in one word, it would be ‘brilliant.’ The whole experience went above and beyond my expectations, from the engaging language taster sessions to the student accommodation – the university certainly took very good care of us! Esther and the Linguastars team made me feel so welcome – even the little things such as being met at the train station, booking taxis and being given a bottle of water on arrival, made all the difference after an early start on the 6am train!

My favourite aspect of Linguastars would have to be the Interpreting taster session. Through a series of multi-tasking challenges to start, we quickly learnt that being an interpreter was by no means an easy job. We were introduced to two different types of interpreting: consecutive, which involved listening to a whole speech, making notes and then delivering back what was said, and simultaneous, which, as the name suggests, involved interpreting over the top of the passage being read out. We were fortunate enough to have a go at both of these, using the facilities where students train for their Master’s degree.

Entering the sound proof booth was quite a surreal experience. Although I knew what to expect, it somehow still surprised me when I couldn’t hear what people were saying – despite being able to see them talking in the other room.  It was only when I put the head phones on that I could hear the teacher’s voice, who then read out a passage which I had to interpret back into the microphone for my teammate to listen to. Due to there being such a variety of languages being studied in the group, we did this activity in English, which although may sound easy for language students – was actually rather difficult! Having to listen to what was being said, whilst trying to understand it, summarise it and then deliver it back, really gave me a taste of not only the pressure interpreters are under, but also the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. One key thing I learnt from this session was that interpreting is not translating: it requires a certain skill to be able to summarise the key points and pick out the most important information being said, rather than translating every single word. This, combined with the session on subtitling, has really opened my mind to the wide variety of careers and opportunities available to linguists. But what’s more, it has further confirmed my love for languages and my desire to continue with my language studies for my university degree.

Another of my favourite parts of Linguastars was meeting so many students from all around the country. Being a two day course, I was surprised by how quickly friendships formed and felt rather sad when the time came to say goodbye. At one point, I even found myself even crying with laughter from a joke we shared – I already felt so comfortable around these people that I had only known for a matter of hours. Such an experience really gave me a flavour of what starting university might be like, finding yourself surrounded by such a rich mix of personalities and accents from different places.

A massive thankyou to the Linguastars team for giving me an experience I will never forget!


For more information on Linguastars, click here to visit the University of Leeds website.