Jump to content

How would you describe this in a SOP?


Recommended Posts

In applications to programs I'm considering, foreign language is very important.


I am currently in a regional studies MA program, and unfortunately the language I am interested in was taught exceptionally poorly. Hence, in my 3 semester program, I will only have taken 1 (although I will probably do some independent study/study abroad)


How would I address this in a SOP? I don't want to directly say "I stopped taking this language because the instructor sucked", but I do want to address it so that I don't look like a flake.


Please trust me in that this language class really was poorly taught - I'm not the only grad student who thinks so. I also took the same language (a lower level though) during undergrad at a different institution and it was taught extremely well there. 


Thank you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, you should never write negative things about anyone (even if they deserve it) in your SOP--it's a place to demonstrate your ability and positives, not a place to highlight other negatives or make excuses.


What did you end up doing after taking the first language course? Did you switch to a different language? If so, focus on your experience with this other foreign language instead.


If you did not take any language courses at all because your preferred foreign language courses were not taught well, then I don't think you should mention the instruction quality in your SOP. I will give you an honest opinion here and that is I think it was a mistake for you to stop taking language courses because they were poorly taught. It's not that I don't believe your course was poorly taught, but given that foreign languages are very important to the programs you're applying to, it does not make sense to discontinue these courses. Or maybe this is just a difference in field but there are tons of poorly taught classes in my field that graduate students are just expected to endure because the material is a fundamental part of our core knowledge and/or critical to our research success.


However, I don't think all is necessarily lost! Here are some options you can consider:


1. Don't mention this at all. If you don't get in this time around, can you take these foreign language courses before reapplying? 


2. Don't mention the poor quality of instruction in your previous experience. Don't mention that you only took 1 out of 3 possible courses. Instead, dedicate a small paragraph (a few sentences) outlining your current experience in this language (undergrad, the grad class you took, any other experience) and your future plans to improve in this foreign language. Include your study abroad if relevant. Maybe you will take classes in between now and the next grad program's start date? Does the school you're applying to have night courses in this language? Make sure you phrase your plan as a way to improve your language skills without highlighting/drawing attention to your deficiency too much. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right! Since I didn't want to write anything negative, I was just wondering how to approach it. 


Ahhh I was thinking about sticking it out just for continuity's sake on my transcript, but it meets six hours a week for a whole semester, and I just didn't want to torture myself in that way. 


Thanks for the heads up, I'll probably just find some other way to take these languages or go abroad to the country. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.