Today we have a special feature with Jack on the Modern Foreign Language interviews at Oxford:
Hi Jack,how many interviews did you have?
I had 3 interviews. one Russian, one Italian, and one 'general language' one, which was with a French and a German tutor in Jesus, as my Italian and russian tutors were both at other colleges (Jesus doesn't have any in-house, which is typical for small subjects).
What were your different interviews on?
The Russian one was about Russian literature (with a poem in Russian which I had to analyse), and the Italian one was about Italian literature (with a text in English which I had to analyse), and some discussion of statement in both. Quite wide-ranging. The Jesus 'gen language' one was about a text in English which I got 15 mins to prep for outside. it was from an Ian McEwan novel which I happened to have read beforehand
Did the tutors push you outside of your comfort zone?
Yes they pushed me outside of my comfort zone in the Italian and general language one, the Russian one not especially (although a bit - she tried to get me to find a hidden meaning in something, I failed, then she told me what it was).
What top tips would you give language applicants?
I'd say to really have a natural interest for literature (it's a literature degree not a language one - they don't really care how much you like language learning, that's just something you have to do to study the literature successfully). And to know quite a lot about a few books on the statement, rather than having lots on there but not knowing lots about them or remembering characters' names. And also to group the texts on the personal statement by a theme, eg to write about a few bits of Soviet or Victorian literature, and then maybe have one 'out there' contemporary thing to show breadth. And to just be generally interested in writing and literary history, like literary movements/schools/genres.