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Learn a foreign language!

At York we believe that knowledge of a foreign language will enhance your studies in History of Art and equip you for future exploration and employment. We offer exceptional opportunities for foreign language study. All students following a BA Degree in History of Art can benefit from a module in a foreign language.

Languages for All (LFA) offers a range of foreign language courses. Current choice is generous and includes: Italian for art historians as well as many western European language at all levels from Introductory to Advanced, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. The courses offered may change every academic year.

Develop your skills

Even if you are a complete beginner in your chosen language when you arrive at York, you can tailor your studies to include language learning to an advanced level by the time you graduate. Your linguistic skills will support your art historical research - and of course it is an invaluable skill to have on your CV which will help you to stand out in a competitive job market.

Foreign languages open new windows to the world-- both literally and figuratively. Language skills will give you:

  • knowledge of concepts that were key to the very generation of Art History.

  • a familiarity with key art historical texts in their original language.

  • an ability to read primary source materials from archives and libraries.

  • an ability to find your way around cities abroad to visit key artworks, monuments and churches.

  • an ability to read scholarship that has not been translated into English.

  • the pleasure of meeting and talking to students and scholars unfamiliar with English.

Where can language learning take you?

"I studied History and History of Art 1991-1994 and arrived at York with A Levels in French and German. In my first year I chose to study beginners Italian as I wanted to study Italian Art and Architecture and I quickly realised that I needed to understand the language if I was going to be able to read the most specialised texts on the subject. I really enjoyed the classes (apart from the fact that they were first thing on Monday mornings….) and, although my spoken Italian is extremely rusty these days, I still use the language regularly in my work. I continued my studies at the Courtauld Institute and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, which led me to move to Syria where I studied Syriac with a Syrian Orthodox priest (!) and learned to speak Arabic. These days I am an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter where I specialise in the History and History of Art of Middle Eastern Christianity and I am still learning new languages; currently I am taking Georgian and Russian classes. I am really grateful that York gave me the opportunity to learn Italian and I cannot emphasise enough how important languages are if students wish to continue on to further research in the Humanities."
Professor Emma Loosley

Theology and Religion

University of Exeter

See what our students achieve during their first year

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