Notes: Language Tutor, Learn Experience
My name is Michael and I work as a Languages tutor teaching adults and children French, Spanish and ESL in London and online.
Which languages do you speak?
Languages have always been a part of my life, as I grew up in different countries as my Dad was in the Army, and we travelled around a lot.
I grew up learning French at school, and I later took up Spanish which I then studied at University. I took up learning Arabic in my late 20's, as my work then was in the International Education industry and the company I worked for, an international chain of language schools, paid for me to do a course in Morocco. I now speak passable Modern standard Arabic and can read/write the script.
Why did you choose to learn languages?
Languages have always been a source of fun, curiosity and a way of bridging the gap between cultures for me. And exploring differences too. I love the way that some things can't be described in one language but another captures it perfectly with a neat expression or turn of phrase. For example, avoir l'esprit de l'escalier, in French is impossible to translate, but describes that feeling you get when you're unable to think of a witty comeback or banter until it’s too late!
How have language skills helped you?
It's also been a great way of meeting people and going deeper into a country's culture. Travelling in different countries where you can speak a bit of the language gives you a special kind of viewpoint, you can understand humour more, find out what the national stereotypes are and whether these hold water with everyday people you talk to.
I've had some memorable moments with languages over the years, perhaps none more so than in Libya, where I was working with EC Language centres on a business trip to meet with Educational agencies. I was in a taxi, in the weeks before the Libyan revolution and the fall of Gaddafi, and the driver asked me a question in broken English. When I replied to him in passable Arabic, he was convinced that I was a government spy!
Do you have any tips or advice for learning a language?
For me, language learning needs to happen beyond the classroom and use of apps etc. It needs to be something that is organic and done in the sphere of what activities interest you.
There are so many options, from homestays living in a country to going on a language + surfing/cooking/music making course.
Do not delay, الوقت لا ينتظر احد (time waits for no man).
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