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Learning a language online

Find out how Anna Conzatti managed to move to a new country, start a PhD, study through a pandemic and learn French and Mandarin Chinese - all in a few months!

Photo of PhD student Anna Conzatti with the London Shard in the background
Anna Conzatti, PhD Architecture

How was the last year for you?

I moved to Bath almost a year ago now and I would never have expected so many adventures! During my first year studying for a PhD in Architecture, I experienced a lot of changes: a new course of studies, new colleagues, even a pandemic, but above all, many opportunities.

Why did you choose to learn a foreign language at the Skills Centre?

I mentioned opportunities and the language courses the Skills Centre offers are amongst them. The chance to improve my language skills with the support of native language teachers is an invaluable preparation for my future career.

What languages did you study last year?

I attended the Mandarin Chinese post-beginner course and the French elementary course. Both courses were interesting and inspiring. I studied both languages many years ago, but thanks to the teachers, it was easy to retrieve the grammar and vocabulary. Moreover, in both courses, there was a stimulating balance between speaking, listening, grammar, vocabulary, and we also learnt a lot about the culture of China and France.

Your native language is Italian. Was it difficult to learn two languages through the medium of English?

Sometimes the learning process was not very easy. However, with perseverance, commitment and the support of my teachers and classmates, (and a bit of fun!) I had the opportunity to improve my language skills.

What happened in March 2020 when the UK went into lockdown?

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, half of semester 2 classes were moved online. Despite a slightly tricky start, thanks to the teachers and the extensive possibilities offered by online platforms, the learning process wasn’t affected. However, I realised that it was easier for me to learn French online than Mandarin Chinese, maybe because French is quite similar to Italian and Mandarin Chinese uses characters and not an alphabet.

You have now enrolled in Arabic and French. Are you not worried about learning a language online for the whole semester?

No, quite the contrary. In June, I had the opportunity to continue studying French with the Skills Centre during a two-week intensive course, which was completely online. I learnt a lot and, despite the fact that the students were located in all different parts of the world, we felt part of one class as if we had been physically together.

I look forward to continue my study of French and, even if Arabic is a new language for me, I am enthusiastic to embrace this new adventure.

Thank you Anna, we wish you the very best with your studies.

Skills Centre, Foreign Languages

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