IWLP Modern Greek: “I loved immersing myself in the culture!”

Γεια σας, my name is Iyla and I am studying BA Modern Languages. I decided to study IWLP Modern Greek in my first year because I had recently got back in contact with my grandad, who has lived in Greece for 12 years. I knew that we would make frequent holidays to see him, so I thought it would be a great idea to learn Greek. Taking an IWLP language was something I was so glad to have access to, and one of the main reasons I chose the University of Reading when making my choices.

I enjoyed everythinga young woman stands on a street in Greece in front of a sunset about the IWLP class. The group and the class interaction were extremely useful. At first it was wildly out of my comfort zone because it was so much talking straight from the beginning, but I began to adapt, and it also helped in my confidence in talking in my other languages! I met many different people learning Modern Greek for various reasons, and it was also very interesting to understand and learn about from them. It was very nerve-wracking to begin with, especially because Modern Greek uses an entirely different alphabet to English and the other languages I am learning, but I was glad to find that this was one of the easiest things to pick up and learn.

For me, the portfolio was the most enjoyable part of taking an IWLP language. I loved immersing myself in the culture and watching films, listening to music, trying out recipes, reading short stories, and more, in Modern Greek. I learnt a lot about how Greek people live and the typical things that are important within culture and traditions.

Balancing the IWLP language alongside my main course never felt stressful, as all the homework and working on the portfolio was something I liked doing. It was a very fulfilling moment when I was eventually able to go and visit my grandad and converse with all the locals. I was able to order for myself and my family, and it was at first very intimidating but being able to speak for myself and not rely on others and their English ability was a very satisfactory experience, and I would definitely recommend an IWLP language, and Modern Greek specifically!


IWLP British Sign Language: Gaining important cultural insights as well as a new language

Hi! My name is Beth and I’m studying BA Film and Television. During my first year, I decided to take British Sign Language, as I wanted to learn a language alongside my main course. I was interested in taking sign language since I think it’s an important language that often gets neglected by most curriculums. Taking an IWLP module helped me gain confidence in socialising outside of my comfort zone,a young woman sits on a bench and smiles as I was communicating with staff and new peers through a different language I had no prior knowledge of. I thought it was also useful how we were taught about the culture as well as the language itself, meaning that we gained valuable insights into how Deaf people had come together to form a community.

At first I was nervous to start learning, as most of the tutors relied on BSL to communicate and I didn’t want to solely use English out of politeness; however, I gradually gained confidence signing due to the way it was taught. As I had to keep using BSL during class, it ensured I was practising constantly.

I truly believe I will be able to use the vocabulary and sign alphabet that I have learned in my module to help other Deaf people who may wish to communicate with another signer. Additionally, I plan to continue learning BSL in the future to meet new people and keep developing my knowledge of this unique language!


IWLP German: “It did so much more than teach me a new language.”

Hallo, mein Name ist Bella. I began my German Stage 1 module a young woman stands in front of boats in a harbousin my final year of studies as a Film, Theatre and Television student. As someone who always struggled learning languages in school, I was determined to try again at learning a language before I completed my time at university. But deciding to learn a whole new language in my final year was a risk, knowing how much work third year demands of you. I was definitely nervous walking into my first IWLP lesson; however, after just a couple of weeks I began looking forward to my lessons as an enjoyable change from everything Film and Theatre.

It got my brain working in a different way, which I think really aided my entire studies. I would absolutely recommend taking an IWLP course as soon as you can, because after just one year, I wish I had more time to continue my studies in German… and I never thought I would be wishing for more time at uni!

The introduction of German TV and film was as a useful resource to practice listening skills, but as a film and TV student, it had a much bigger impact on me and my work as a student. This influence is something I did not think of when choosing to learn German alongside my main studies. As a result of taking my IWLP module, I selected a German documentary (Die Unsichtbaren: Wir wollen leben, 2017) to discuss in my final essay. Now my list of German TV and film is only growing, as I aim to one day be able to watch German speaking film without the aid of subtitles. I really feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to take this IWLP course because it did much more than solely teach me a new language. I am looking forward to travelling to Germany and Austria in a few weeks to be able to put my language skills to the test. Though I am not sure any beginner in German can be expected to use all the variations of the word ‘the’ correctly… 😉

If you are on this page and thinking of taking an IWLP course, do it! And choose German, you’ll have the most fun!


Go Places with the IWLP and Study Abroad

Are you an undergraduate with at least one year left in your degree? Have you heard about the Study Abroad opportunities at UoR? Study Abroad is a golden opportunity to enrich your degree, broaden your horizons and, most importantly, have fun! (Note: this is different to the Year Abroad for students taking a language at degree level.)

You will study in English at the university abroad, but if you have some of the local language under your belt already, you will get so much more out of your experience.

IWLP Stage 1 modules aim to give you survival skills for travelling, so even with just one year’s IWLP study, you can understand the basics and the sounds of the language, decipher signs, greet people, introduce yourself in detail and order food in a restaurant or drinks in a bar.

Stages 2 and 3 expand on these skills, so the more language you learn before you go, the easier you will find it to get around and fit into the local community. And once you come back, you might be able to carry on with the IWLP and keep up your skills.

Reading has partnerships with universities in countries that use these IWLP languages:

French: France, Canada, Switzerland

German: Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Italian: Italy

Japanese: Japan

Spanish: Spain

You can apply to study for one term or a whole year, as well as summer schools in France and Japan that offer a summer-only programme.


Not convinced? Read some of these student testimonials to whet your appetite:

EM Strasbourg Summer School, France

Tübingen University, Germany

Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italy – additionally, Darcey and Yagmur both took Italian Stage 1 and then studied in Venice – read about their experiences here and here.

University of Geneva, Switzerland


Please note that all Study Abroad opportunities have limited places and are subject to an application process, and there may be additional costs alongside the funding provided. You must also apply the year before you travel abroad, so it’s important to get organised and get the information you need as early as you can.

For more information, head to the the Study Abroad website.


IWLP Arabic: “One of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”


My name is Phoebe, and I am currently completing my Masters in the Theory and Practise of Clinical Psychology. I was part of the IWLP Arabic family during my first and second years of my undergraduate Psychology course here at the University. I am originally British but plot twist… I have lived most of my life in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When I came back to the UK to start university, I missed home so much, so I thought that studying the Arabic language would cure my homesickness – to fast forward, it really did.a young woman sits in a restaurant surrounded by palm trees

Although I did grow up in the Middle East, I couldn’t read or write in Arabic, so when I first started the module, I was pretty nervous since everything is so different in Arabic compared to English! But with time and practice, I eventually got the hang of it, and all of a sudden Arabic wasn’t as scary as I first thought it would be. What I loved about the module was that the Middle Eastern culture was intertwined into the classes, giving so much more meaning to the words we were learning.

I think one of my proudest moments was during one of our final year speaking exams, when we were given the opportunity to describe a full scenario in Arabic to our lecturer. I chose to talk about a travelling experience. I remember finishing what I had to say, and I couldn’t believe that I spoke fluently in Arabic, and just how far I had come!

If I had to say one thing to someone starting an IWLP module is: don’t be scared, and you can do it! It may seem near impossible, but I promise you that, with the support you are given and some hard work, you will go far, and learning a language is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.

Ma Salama and good luck!


IWLP French: secret codes and Beauty and the Beast

Business Management student Olga has taken IWLP French for three years: she started at Stage 2 as a post-beginner in her first year and is now finishing her degree at an intermediate level with Stage 4. In her photo, she is stood next to a magnolia tree in a French village near Strasbourg (Did you know that magnolia trees are named after a French botanist, Pierre Magnol?). Read all about Olga’s experience and advice for future IWLP learners:

Salut everyone!

My name is Olga and I am currently in my third year as a Business Management student. I started studying French when I was still in school but eventually had to stop due to being in my final year. I restarted French in my first year of university as my 6th module. Initially I chose it ba woman looks up at a tree in a French villageecause I knew the language and thought it would be interesting to be trilingual, but as time passed, I remembered that I enjoyed talking in another language… it’s a like a secret code. Between you and me, I speak French with my mum when I want to tell her a secret. Of course, like any foreign language, there were challenges – for example, speaking is the most difficult for me. From pronunciation to correct order of words, it needs time and effort to get used to. But we have projects that aide in exactly those areas. We could choose from a variety of cultural references and present our findings; I talked about the food and cuisine presented in Beauty and the Beast.

I think the most valuable advice I could give to someone who is considering taking the IWLP module is: go for it! It will be challenging and you will have to put effort in, but you get to learn about different civilizations and cultures. If you are worried about how much time you should spent in improving your chosen language, speak to your tutor, see a film, find friends that are native in that language…. not everything is about reading and memorising a book.

À bientôt everyone!


From learning Chinese at the University of Reading to using Chinese in Nanjing

a young woman stands in front of a white building in China

In Summer 2019, IWLP Chinese Stage 2 student Giang had the opportunity to travel to China and use her newly learnt language on the Nanjing International Youth Exchange Programme. She spoke warmly of her experience when she returned…

There is a famous saying: ‘You live a new life for every new language you speak’. For me, learning Chinese has brought so much fun and opened a new world. I am so grateful to have had Mrs Li as the first teacher in my learning Chinese journey. She not only guided me in the first step with Chinese but also gave me an opportunity to discover China. Mrs Li introduced the Nanjing International Youth Exchange Programme to my class in 2019. Thanks to her unfailing support, I got a chance to take part in this programme in Nanjing for 20 days – and it  was my greatest summer ever. I met many new friends from all over the world. We explored the historical city and had a real look at Chinese people’s lives today. The programme also offered us to intern at local companies at the industrial park. It was a golden opportunity to experience real-life business as a student. NIYEP was such an awesome program that I could use Chinese more and immerse myself with Chinese culture. Learning Chinese has truly helped me to live a new joyful life!

IWLP Chinese: Diversify your degree


Hi there, myThe author of the post is a young man smiling in a white shirt name is Morgan, and I graduated with a Business degree in 2022. I did IWLP Chinese for two years and I really enjoyed it as my tutor helped me find a very difficult language very interesting. One thing learning with the IWLP has given me is massive inspiration to undertake an internship in Taiwan, which I will be doing for around three or four months. I will be working for a renewable energy company and practising my Chinese, which is a very cool opportunity. One of the other reasons I really enjoyed IWLP Chinese is because it gave me a bit of diversity from my degree and shifted me away from the standard marketing and accounting stuff. I feel that this opportunity to diversify is an incredibly invaluable part of the IWLP modules.

Translating Film Subtitles from French to English by John McKeane

I recently completed a project translating the subtitles of a French film, and thought it could be of interest to current and prospective language students here at the University of Reading. In this blog I’ll give details of the film and talk about the challenges facing translators in this format. The project was a collaboration with the excellent translator Sam Ferguson and funding was generously provided by Reading’s Centre for Film Æsthetics and Cultures.

I had experience of translating philosophical books from French to English, but not previously a film. However, I was lucky enough to meet film-maker François Lagarde and his collaborator Christine Baudillon. So when I heard they were making a film about Alexandre Kojève, I really wanted to get involved! The film’s French title is Alexandre Kojève: en connaissance de cause, which we translated as Alexandre Kojève: Knowingly.

Who was Kojève? He was an influential figure in 20th-century French philosophy, who thought that there was no human nature but only the gradual unfolding of history. But he fascinates people mainly because he abandoned academia after WWII, going on to become a major figure in the trade agreements that laid the groundwork for the European Union.

Hopefully this sets the scene for the first of the three translation issues I want to concentrate on. I have been calling this person Kojève, which is the Gallicized version of his original surname Kozhevnikov. But while ZH and J are pronounced the same in the film, when it came to adding written subtitles, we had to decide how to spell the original Russian name. Should we go for Kojevnikov, as is written on his gravestone shown in the film, and giving greater visual identity with Kojève, the name by which this figure is most widely known? Or Kozhevnikov, which is the standard English transliteration? We chose the second option.

Second, we were dealing with his speech and writings from the 1930s to the 1960s. Language changes over time, and so we had to decide whether to use today’s English, or that of his period. One example is the French sentence ‘J’étais assis […] réfléchissant à ce qui a été écrit sur les deux cultures, l’Orient et l’Occident’. Should the last part be translated as ‘East and West’, ‘the East and the West’, or ‘the Orient and the Occident’? Translators often try to make their work sound as natural as possible. However, we wanted to give a flavour of the English Kojève might have spoken, and so we went with the old-fashioned sounding, final option.

The last translation issue was a general one, insofar as we knew that the words in our translated subtitles had to a) fit on the screen and b) align with what was being said, when it was being said. In respect of a), we went for brevity wherever we could, producing 10,600 English words as a translation of 12,200-word French transcript. We also had to rearrange some syntax, which is a normal and legitimate part of translation, but we pushed this a bit further than normal so that the subtitles matched the words as they were spoken.

If you have made it to the end of the blog you may be interested in viewing the film and attending a roundtable discussion of it! This will be held at an online conference on 2 September 2021, you can register for free here.

La Puerta de Alcalá by Annie Streek (Winner YA Photo Competition)

Hola! My name is Annie, and I spent my Year Abroad in Madrid, Spain, where I worked in Recruitment for the first half, followed by Investment Strategies in Private Equity in the second. I also worked during the evenings as an English tutor to three young children to earn some extra money, by the end they were like family to me and helped me with my Spanish and taught me how to cook typical Spanish food. This photo was taken by Puerta de Alcalá, one of my favourite spots in Madrid, not only because it is right next to the Prado and Retiro, but because when I first arrived in the city, it immediately caught my attention. Choosing to go to Madrid was the best decision I made for my year abroad, not only because it is a bustling city, but because I was able to travel around Spain and Europe to visit my friends who were also on their year abroad. Before coronavirus hit, I was lucky enough to have went to Malaga, Venice, Paris, Bilbao and Milan. I would say to students going on their year abroad, travel travel travel! You will never have this time again and it will go by so quickly, that is what the student loan is for anyway!