Notes: Product Marketing Manager at Rolls-Royce
I am a Product Marketing Manager in the marine services division of Rolls-Royce plc. My focus is business development and marketing of product upgrades - our equipment is found on oil rigs, offshore support vessels, cargo vessels, tankers, cruise ships, ferries and yachts. My job is based in the UK with frequent international travel, which I love.
What languages did you study at school?
Spanish and French, up to Higher level. I also went to a lunchtime club to learn some British Sign Language.
Why did you choose to take up languages?
At school, everyone had to do French in 1st year, and I did not like it at all - I had never studied any languages before and I had never been to France. In 2nd year at school I got the chance to start Spanish and I enjoyed that - we used to go on family holidays to Spain so I could relate to it more. Then at my university they offered Italian, so I did the 3 languages in my 1st year at university, but continued only Spanish and French for my full degree.
Have you lived or worked in Spanish or French speaking countries?
As part of my university degree I spent one year in Zaragoza, Spain, and a summer in Perpignan, France. In Zaragoza I taught English in an Escuela Oficial de Idiomas, which is a language college. My students were aged 16-60 and they were all very keen to learn English. In Perpignan I attended a summer school for advanced French classes. With my current employer I did a secondment in Texas, USA, for 6 months - where around a third of the population speaks Spanish.
How do you use your Spanish and French now?
Rolls-Royce is a major global company and while the language of our business in English, it's always helpful to have languages in particular when meeting new colleagues or customers. Some highlights include hosting Mexican customers during their visit to Rolls-Royce, and when I worked in the aerospace division, representing the company at the Paris Air Show. The company values my language skills - but more importantly they value strong communication skills and cultural awareness, both of which tend to go hand-in-hand with a degree in languages.
Being confident in some languages also gives you a head start in other languages - I travelled to Rio de Janeiro for work a few years ago. I don't speak Portuguese, but when I was in shops and restaurants I could get by thanks to my knowledge of Spanish. I have also travelled to Tokyo and I found that Japanese pronunciation of vowels is incredibly similar to Spanish. Knowing that you have the ability to learn a language gives you confidence to try more. I currently travel to Norway regularly with work so I'm trying to learn some basic Norwegian on each trip.
What tips would you have for anyone thinking about studying languages at university?
Read, watch or listen to as much as you can in the language you are studying - newspapers, magazines, children's books, advertising, songs - the more you can immerse yourself in the language, the better. In the beginning, don't worry about understanding every single word - just try to get the gist of a newspaper article, for example. Read about subjects you are interested in - if you like travel or sport, read about these in the foreign language. Get as much practice speaking the language as you can - don't be afraid of making mistakes. If you make a particularly funny or embarrassing mistake, it will be so memorable that you won't make the mistake again!
In the following video, Amy talks about language learning and how this has helped in her career.
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