The Cambridge Modern Languages Interview – What to Expect
There can be a lot of myths surrounding the Cambridge modern languages interview, but here we outline what to expect and how best to prepare for when the day comes.
Variations of the Cambridge Modern Languages Interview between Colleges
At Cambridge, how the interviews are conducted between the different colleges can vary. In general, you will either have separate interviews for each of the languages you want to study, or you will get a single subject interview which involves questions from both the languages for which you are applying to study.
Another possibility is that you will have one interview focusing on modern languages, and a further one involving a more general interview with someone outside the modern languages faculty who may ask you questions about your academic aspirations and aims, and general interests.
Across all of these variations outlined, what is shared is that you will receive further information from your college if they invite you to an interview. This will give you a better idea of what form your Cambridge modern language interview will take, and a better sense of what will go on during the day. Further information on this can be found at:
The Typical Cambridge Modern Languages Interview
In the interviews themselves, the interviewers may ask what further reading around the subject you have done outside of the school curriculum.
You may have already been asked by the College to send (in preparation) some information about particular books or films in which you have an interest in. This is a great opportunity to show you are really passionate about the literature and culture of the languages you are looking to study. This can take the form of anything from plays to exhibitions, it’s really about what interests you.
It is also worth noting that there is not the expectation that you will have already visited the countries of the languages you are looking to study- there are many other ways of showing your initiative and enthusiasm for language and culture.
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The MML Faculty at Cambridge recommends reading pre-20th-century works as well as more contemporary writing, watching the news in your target languages, and to think critically about what you have read and experienced. How do the books you have read compare? What do they say about identity or history? How do they do this? What struck you about these works? Engaging critically with what you have looked into is just as important as going out there and experiencing the culture itself. See the Cambridge MML faculty’s FAQs for more information on this.
What you should also expect to happen in your Cambridge modern language interview is a discussion in the language you are studying at A Level or equivalent. This will not be a lengthy conversation and is unlikely to take more than 10 minutes.
One final thing to expect at the Cambridge modern languages interview…
One final thing that a lot of MML applicants can expect at Cambridge interviews is to take a look at a short passage in the foreign language. The important thing here is not that you already fully understand the passage and know everything about it. The interviewers are looking for how you respond to new material, and how you think when you don’t already know the answer- this will take the form of more of a discussion.
Overall, the process is designed to get the best out of you. In general, read and experience the culture beyond what your school has set you, find out what you like and what you think about it, and enjoy it!
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