Notes: Musician and Tour Manager
My name is Fraser Fulton. I’m a musician, tour manager and backline technician for touring musical artists.
What languages have you learned?
At school I learned French and German, but German was my main focus. This was due to a combination of things: I had a family friend who was German and I also really enjoyed learning the language at school.
How have any language skills helped you in your work?
Because I spend most of my time on tour, especially in German-speaking countries, speaking German has been invaluable to me. I have been able to communicate much more fluently with colleagues in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I also have the confidence to “give it a go” when it comes to learning new languages. This, in itself, has opened doors – people love it when you make the effort.
What benefits do you think language skills bring?
Being able to speak a different language allows you to dismantle a barrier straight away. For example, you know that less is lost in translation and you can make yourself better understood more quickly. Also, in my job, I have colleagues who I may work with only for a day so there is a need to build contact and trust very quickly so being able to speak someone else’s language is a real benefit. Obviously, English is a very useful mother tongue to have but I definitely think there’s a heightened respect when you speak other people’s language. And you don’t have to be fluent, you just need to be able to understand each other and communicate.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
Throw yourself at it! The main thing, again, is to communicate. You don’t have to get it perfect. Not having perfect grammar, for example, should not hold you back. Most people learn languages in order to talk with others so if that’s your main goal, don’t be distracted from it. Just go for it!
Any tips on how best to approach communicating in a language you have little knowledge of?
When I was touring in Spain, I listened to the local radio in Spanish while I was driving to get used to the sounds. I used an online translation tool to get basic phrases and I bought a phrase book and made sure to learn the basics. It really does make a difference to how people approach you.
In your experience, would you say cultural awareness is important?
Totally. We live in a global community and it’s important to understand how other people think about the world, what’s important to them, where their values come from. Besides, it’s the culture that brings the most fun to language learning – culture is what brings language alive!
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