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Modern Foreign Languages

Experience how a university MFL degree can take your language skills to the next level

Welcome to the School of Languages. Studying a Languages degree at university is the perfect way to take your language skills to the next level. Modern society is multicultural and much of modern business is global, so the ability to speak multiple languages is always in demand. Find out how languages can take you anywhere!

In this interactive world tour you will be playing the part of a language student who is setting off on their Year Abroad. On most four-year undergraduate degrees, students spend their third year in the country or countries whose language(s) they are studying.

On this page you will:

  • Gain an understanding of how language degrees give you the skills to cope with real-life situations
  • Have an insight into the type of activities that you might undertake if you study languages at university
  • Find out more about the professions that you can enter with a language degree – languages can take you anywhere!
Modern Foreign Languages Students at language learning facility watching a video on a computer
Male translator in speaking into microphone

Studying languages at university

  • Study two languages, or concentrate on one language if you choose.
  • Start a new language as a beginner and study it alongside a language that you have done at A Level. This gives you the opportunity to pick up languages such as Mandarin and Italian.
  • Combine a language with another subject. At the University of Portsmouth, for example, you can study International Development with Languages, and International Relations with Languages.


In the first two years of a degree, students develop language skills in all four key areas – reading, writing, speaking and listening. But they also learn to apply these skills in practical scenarios that give a real sense of achievement.

These practical scenarios include

  • Translation – learn the principles of translation into and out of the target language, in areas such as recipes, adverts and journalism
  • Workplace skills – find out how to apply for a job in your chosen language, practise job interviews and learn about workplace culture
  • Television reports – on the first-year
  • Language Project module here at the University of Portsmouth, students work in teams to create a TV news report recorded in a studio. It’s great fun!

These practical skills set students up for their Year Abroad, which forms the third year of most language degrees!

The Year Abroad

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Street art of skeleton wearing a Sombreo

In the third year at uni, students can undertake a year abroad to study, work or volunteer. Students can combine two of these activities, working (for example) for a French translation company in the first half of the year abroad, and then studying at a Spanish university for the second half of the year.

The year abroad gives students experiences that they never forget - and help them make friendships that will last a lifetime.

Here’s what one Portsmouth University student, Emine, said about her Year Abroad experience in the Netherlands.

BA (Hons) International Business at Portsmouth

BA (Hons) International Business student Emine Trampova talking about her experience in the Netherlands as part of the year-long study abroad programme.

You can find out more about the Year Abroad, with this multilingual online activity site developed by University of Portsmouth language tutors.

World Tour of Languages

Put your language skills and cultural knowledge to the test!

We’re now going to take you on a whistle-stop tour around some of the locations where you might choose to spend your Year Abroad. At each stopping point on our journey, you will carry out an activity related to the language and culture of the country where our travels take us.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the language in question – there will be clues in the questions to help you work out the right answer! 

You will also find out how the skills that you will have learned in the first two years of university study help you to cope with any situation that you may encounter. Well, almost any!

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Spanish may not have the most words, but it is the fastest language. Yes, it is strange to say that one language can be the fastest of them all, but it is. The speed of a language is based on the number of syllables an average speaker can pronounce per second. And in this regard, Spanish is the fastest language in the world!

Graduating – from Modern Languages at university!

For our university students, completion of their Year Abroad is a key stepping stone towards graduation. The cultural knowledge and language skills that have been acquired in their Year Abroad helps them to negotiate their final year of studies. This is particularly true of students who started a language as a beginner – the progress in their spoken language is immense!

After graduation, language graduates start their career pathways as expert multilingual communicators.

What can you do with a Modern Languages degree?

With language skills continuing to be in high demand in many industries, previous students have gone on to work in fields such as:

  • translation and interpreting.
  • marketing
  • journalism and the media
  • international management
  • teaching
  • tourism
  • finance

What jobs can you do with a Modern Languages degree?

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • bilingual consultant.
  • multilingual project coordinator translator
  • teacher
  • translator/interpreter
  • diplomat
  • journalist
  • tourist guide
  • market analyst

Find out more about studying languages at university