Notes: Managing Director (Tourism)
My name is Roddy McDonald and I’m a tour operator working 90% with British school groups in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Poland and Austria.
My motto is ‘learning outside the classroom in a culturally diverse country and savouring the local cuisine whilst absorbing the spoken language all around is the best education you will get’.
What languages have you learned?
I’ve studied and achieved the following language certifications at the University of Strathclyde
- French certificate of continuing education (Hons)
- Italian certificate of continuing education
- Spanish certificate of continuing education
- German higher
Additionally I have undertaken 20-week taster courses in Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Gaelic, Danish and Sign Language at the University of Glasgow.
How have languages helped you in your work or personal life?
I use languages extensively in daily life in a variety of formats. This can be verbally by phone or in person, as well as written communication via emails, WhatsApp, Messenger and texts to suppliers in various countries.
I cover all aspects of tour operating including negotiations, marketing, sales, promotions, staff and customer interaction. So the language skills I have are vital in my role as I deal with a wide range of suppliers in hotels, coach companies, attractions, ski schools, ski hire shops, lift pass offices, restaurants, bars, night clubs, regional representatives, sailing schools, rafting schools and cycle hire shops.
What benefits do you think language skills bring?
The benefits to business are immense when you can negotiate – suppliers listen and are willing to haggle on prices.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
I like to get my teeth into the grammar of a language – personal choice – but when I’m teaching Italian, French or Spanish I put more emphasis on the spoken language and accent. This is in a bid to get the student’s mind linguistically active, irrespective of whether they are grammatically correct in their speech. By and large, native-speakers will understand the essence of what’s being said and will seldom correct you. This gives immense satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
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