Notes: Relationship Manager (Banking)
My name is Ruth Sillars-Mathouillot and I am a Relationship Manager in a Bank in Luxembourg.
What languages have you learned?
I’m now fluent in French, I have basic German skills and I’m learning Luxembourgish.
Have any language skills helped you in your work or personal life?
Absolutely! From school up until now. I learned French and German at school (optionally!) and completed Highers in both. At University I was focused on Europe and studied Economics and European Studies at Strathclyde University. I spent my 3rd year in Lyon as part of the Socrates programme and it was an amazing experience. I finished my degree in Scotland and I applied to be a language assistant and was posted to the North East of France, where I met my now husband who is French.
I now live and work in Luxembourg in a French-speaking bank serving English-speaking clients. I speak English at home, my husband is French and my son goes to school in Luxembourgish so languages help us all the time.
What benefits do you think language skills bring?
Practically being able to travel easily, integrate into a new country quickly and applying for a wider range of jobs. On a personal note learning a language is so enriching being able to socialise with people of different cultures and backgrounds. Language gives you access to the literature, film and music of other cultures that you wouldn’t normally experience.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
Everyone learns at their own pace, for me there is no need to put pressure on yourself to get a certificate - languages should be enjoyed! Languages need to be useful and you will enjoy them so much more if you need them. So pick a language that you will enjoy learning and the rest is much easier.
Any tips on how best to approach communicating in a language you have little knowledge of?
Find a simple sentence that you will use often and repeat it until it is perfect. Once you know that you can learn that one phrase you know that you can build on the rest!
Listen to the radio in that language whilst you’re in the car, on the bus, cooking. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand it all. Just challenge yourself at the beginning to understand the overall subject, then pick out a word, or a name and then every day build up your vocabulary.
ALWAYS watch films and TV in the original language. This for me is the best way to grasp intonation of language and it is entertaining at the same time.
5-10 mins every day is much more efficient than a 3 hour class a week. Find a language app that allows you to practise exercises from your lesson and do a little bit every day to integrate what you’ve learned.
And a saying that I hold very dear and should help you get over those initial fears of not being understood…’Do you know what a foreign accent is? A sign of bravery’.
In your experience, would you say cultural awareness is important?
For me it is essential to be aware of cultural differences. It avoids misunderstanding and creates a real understanding that regardless of those various cultural codes or differences that we are all in fact humans!
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