Notes: Student of German and Linguistics
My name is Emma Therer and I'm a MA (HONS) German and Linguistics – 4th year undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.
What sparked your interest in languages and which languages do you speak?
Being born in Belgium, I have been exposed to three languages (French, Flemish and German) from an early age. At home we only spoke French, which is my mother tongue. However, I learned German at school and carried on studying German at university afterwards. I currently speak French, German and English fluently, but I also have some basic knowledge in Spanish and I recently started to learn British Sign Language.
I have always been interested in learning new languages, because it’s not only a new language that you are learning but also a new way of thinking, another culture you get to know and this experience broadens your horizon so much. Besides my love for learning languages, I also like to take on new challenges!
Why did you choose to study languages as part of your course?
I was really fond of theatre as well, so for me it was only natural to study linguistics at university, since I have a real passion for languages and linguistics gets to the roots. It is a very satisfying study area if you wish to understand the ways humans communicate with one another and how languages evolve over time.
What message would you give to another young person who is considering learning a language as part of their studies?
If they are already considering learning a language as part of their studies, they should not hesitate and go for it! This will be the best decision they ever made. A foreign language not only gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizon, but also enables you to communicate with people coming from a different culture and this is the best ice breaker in order to get to know people. This is not only about learning another language, but also about learning another way of life – this is very inspirational. Not to mention the great job opportunities out there, when you can speak several languages.
If you are afraid that you are too old to learn a language and think you would not be able to reach fluency in that language, I have one word for you: WRONG! I was 18 years old when I learned English for the first time and when I came to England to specifically learn English, I decided to apply for university in the United Kingdom and got an offer from the University of Edinburgh, after having learned English for only one year. If the motivation is there, if you are immersed in the language you wish to learn, you can accomplish incredible things, believe me! I certainly did not think that I would end up studying in an English-speaking country, but I did, thus the word “impossible” should not be part of anyone’s vocabulary!
Believe in yourself. Learning a new language will certainly get you out of your comfort zone and at the end, it is such a rewarding experience!
What are your future career aspirations and how might languages help you?
I would like to become a translator and interpreter, this would mean that I would have to use my language skills pretty much all the time and this would enable me to keep up with all of them, as this is quite important to keep practising your language skills on a regular basis, if you do not wish to lose them.
I wish to join the EU Commission traineeship to get a taste of the life as a translator in the EU parliament. I may also join a master programme in the field of deaf studies (sign language) or translation.
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