French and Arabic:  Example Personal Statement

 My admiration for French extends beyond its beautiful sounds to the richness of its history and culture. For my EPQ, I studied the Charter of Laïcité in French Schools and the history of secularism in France. In order to determine whether I believed it was coherent policy to ban religious symbols in schools, while subscribing to a motto of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, I read articles on the subject in both English and French. In addition, I am already able to read Arabic classical script as a practising Muslim. Its poetic nature can be said to have led to ambivalence and thus ideological conflicts and sectarianism. It is this enigmatic quality that fuels my desire to become fluent in the language and gain access to Arab cultures. Both French and Arabic are linked due to former colonial ties, as evident in Kiffe Kiffe Demain and Le Gone du Chaâba. I was struck by the interspersed Arabic and verlan, enriching the novels as they followed the marginalised existences of young Maghrébins and their struggles to assimilate to French culture. While our economy is losing an estimated £50 billion annually due to the lack of modern linguists, I believe this deficit also limits our capacity to appreciate other cultures. Earlier this year during Year 9 Languages Day, I helped lead a session on the Urdu language, teaching students the alphabet and basic phrases. I found it a rewarding experience introducing younger pupils to my personal heritage and promoting intercultural dialogue. 

Reading Voltaire’s Candide prompted me to consider the questions of religious morality and philosophy emerging in 18th century France. Pangloss’ unrelenting Optimism is arguably a caricature of Leibniz’s philosophy, as he remorselessly describes this world as the best of all possible worlds. For the Oxford 2015 Film competition, I experimented with the Alexandrine poetry style in French by writing the ending for the film ‘De Rouille et D’Os’ and was awarded a Special Commendation. My work experience at Salisbury Hospital’s Speech Therapy department also increased my appreciation of the invaluable asset of language.

 My ability in languages was illustrated when I was awarded the GCSE Latin prize. Currently studying AS Latin off-timetable has been a challenging experience yet has rewarded me with a framework for analysing languages. I additionally enjoyed being part of the Southampton University e-Mentoring Languages Scheme, during which I was able to talk to a current French undergraduate. My travels too have strengthened my affinity for languages. My recent visits to Paris and Marrakech have given me the opportunity to discover new cultures. Following my stay in Morocco, I subscribed to Gazelle; a ‘Magazine de la Femme Maghrébine’. 

I value art in a similar way to how I value languages as I believe both have the capacity to communicate powerful messages. Art predates written scriptures by 26,000 years giving insights into unimaginably distant civilisations. Political, revolutionary and religious ideas have always been conveyed through art, from the Lascaux Caves to Manet’s controversial Olympia. My drive for academic success runs alongside my commitments outside of my studies such as playing the clarinet. Throughout the school I have been asked to fill multiple positions of responsibility. As a Year 7 Prefect, a Senior Academic Mentor and now a Senior Lower School Prefect it has been a rewarding experience supporting younger students and assisting at school events. These roles have developed my leadership and organisational skills and have allowed me to learn essential communication skills when working as part of a team. It was also imperative to communicate well when speaking to a large audience for a Student Voice conference at Exeter University. With my cultural and linguistic interests in French and Arabic I am excited for the opportunities offered on a demanding yet fulfilling degree course.