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Jessica Riley-Heenan


United Kingdom
I managed to take a Spanish course alongside my degree through the University Language Programme (ULP) and through this I won a scholarship to visit a Spanish speaking country!

More about Jessica

What do you enjoy most about your course?

“I love doing a joint honours degree because I get to do two completely different subjects. Our Global Studies class is very diverse and it is great to have discussions with people that are interested in the same thing as me. The TESOL course allows me to improve my teaching skills in exciting ways, such as mock lessons.”

Why would you recommend your course / NTU to someone looking to study in that area?

“NTU has great facilities and lots of extra opportunities you can get involved with. I managed to take a Spanish course alongside my degree through the University Language Programme (ULP) and through this I won a scholarship to visit a Spanish speaking country!”

Have you completed any work placements and if so can you tell me a little bit about them – where you went and what you did?

“Through the humanities at work programme, I was lucky enough to find a placement teaching English to refugees and asylum seekers. This tied in perfectly with my degree and I also gained valuable experience for the future.”

What language are you studying on the ULP and what are you enjoying about the course?

“I am studying Spanish as I have a huge passion for it. I love going to class and being able to communicate in another language, whilst meeting so many like-minded people.”

Why did you choose to study on the ULP – do you think it will improve your future career prospects?

“After living in Central America for a year my speaking and listening skills (in Spanish) were pretty high, but I wanted to improve my reading and writing skills. The ULP has allowed me to keep using my spoken Spanish and improve grammatically.

I definitely think it will enhance my future career prospects, employers recognise that an employee with another language is a valuable team member. Also, particularly because I want to work globally, speaking different languages puts me at a huge advantage.”

How do the academic staff support you during the ULP?

“They constantly give feedback on all tasks they set; they show clear examples and the mark scheme is made clear from the start, so you always know what you have to work towards.”

What skills do you feel you have learned as a result of your time on the ULP and how will they help you in the future?

“Number 1 would have to be time management. Fitting in the ULP alongside your degree is a lot of work, but it is worth it! Speaking another language has already been a huge benefit to me whilst travelling and I am sure it will also be very helpful in the future when applying for jobs.”

What did you do with your ULP Clear Thinking Scholarship?

I spent 11 weeks in Honduras over the summer, where I constantly spoke Spanish. I volunteered at an orphanage and rural schools in the area, to gather data for my dissertation, which focuses on student behaviour and personality in these deprived areas. I was able to teach English and Dance to the students, teach them how to swim in the local river to prevent drowning accidents, and provide food to children in rural schools to help increase attendance. I was conversing with a variety of people, in Spanish, daily and this would not have been possible in the UK. So many people commented on how my Spanish had improved and how I now sound like a Honduran when I speak!

Honduras struggles with poverty, lack of education, gang crime and violence and it was difficult to see first-hand the effects of this on the people I met. Looking forward to the future, this has inspired me to work in the UN to try to bring some justice to people’s life in Honduras. It has encouraged me to stand up for those that do not have the same support as we do in the UK. I could never have had such a hands-on, life changing experience without my knowledge of Spanish, or the money from the scholarship.

Find out more about the University Language Programme, including details of how to apply.

Choosing just one subject to study at university can be a challenge! If you’re stuck weighing up different subjects, a joint honours course could be the ideal solution!

Still need help?

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