Notes: Business Director
My name is Niall Rachman. I am 24 from Glasgow.
I am a graduate from the University of Strathclyde having studied International Business with Modern Languages.
Now, I am a Director of my own business, First2Train, which has many brands underneath it in the industries of Safety, Training, Consultancy and Education Technology.
What languages have I learned?
To date, I have learned English, Spanish, French and Italian. My strongest language is English (obviously); however, Spanish is my favourite.
I have been learning languages since I was aged 10, picking up French, Spanish and Italian in secondary school and university.
How have language skills helped me in my work?
Languages help me in my work daily. It is fantastic being able to pick up the phone and converse with someone in another country in their own language – it is always great to give someone that surprise when they answer the phone!
Language skills have also given me the skills of confidence and effective communication. With learning languages, you learn a lot about compassion, managing your tone and being a lot more conscious of how you say things. This has helped me both in native and other languages too – my role is very customer focused, and I deliver training, so these skills are massively useful.
What benefits do I think language skills bring?
What benefits do they not bring? They have given me the confidence to do things myself, the ability to travel, see the world, make friends and experience things that I would not ever have been able to imagine by staying in the UK, speaking English.
Do I have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
Just do it. It is on your bucket list, isn’t it? It is something that we have no excuse anymore for not learning – go online, go to a class, pick up a book, go on YouTube… it is all there. There is no reason not to.
It will be hard, it will be uncomfortable to start with – but, after a while it will be easy and it is like riding a bike, you will remember easier if you keep practising!
Do I have any tips for how best to approach communicating in a language you have little knowledge of?
Do not. Be. British. (By this, I mean the stereotypical speak louder and slower to make people understand you).
Ask questions, every single time. What does that word mean? Why do you say that like that? Be understanding and go easy on yourself. You will and must make mistakes before you learn the language. So, take that time and enjoy it! No one is laughing at you… maybe you have asked for a donkey instead of an office in Spanish (note: it is not like the French word at all) … which is funny, laugh too! You will not make that mistake again and you will learn something. You learn more when you relax and embrace mistakes.
In my experience, would I say cultural experience is important?
The world is not as big as it used to be – not literally – and we need to make sure that we appreciate other cultures in the world.
The only way we can hugely appreciate and understand other cultures is by experiencing it ourselves.
Go on holiday, ditch the Irish Bar down on Costa Del Sol and look for somewhere authentically Spanish. You will not regret it!
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