Article Details

Article Details

Euan Johnston

Notes: Marketing Manager at Bellcom Worldwide

Euan Johnston

Bellcom Worldwide is an award-winning multilingual outsourcing provider for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Samsung, Dell, Xerox, Virgin Media and Crowne Plaza.

As Marketing Manager, Euan is responsible for growing the global profile of Bellcom Worldwide and ensuring that the company communicates effectively with its customers worldwide. 

When did you start learning a language? Which one?

I started learning Gaelic in primary school, which only lasted a couple of terms but I remember enjoying it at the time. When I reached secondary school, French was mandatory for the first two years. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite ‘click’ for me and I soon lost interest. 

I remember sitting in a French class and spotting a German dictionary. I was fascinated by the length of some of the words and wanted to learn how to say them. Strangely, the only way we were allowed to learn German at my school was if we were good at French – so I studied hard, scraped a ‘pass’ and started learning German in 3rd year.

I absolutely loved learning German and it just ‘clicked’ for me. I continued it on until 6th year and then at university with a combined Business / Languages degree.

Have you studied abroad? Where?

As part of my degree in International Business with European Languages & Society, I was required to study abroad at a university in Germany.

I studied in Passau, which is a small university town in Bavaria – just on the border with Austria. Passau is a beautiful town with rich history and fantastic scenery. I lived with native German students in halls, which were palatial in comparison to my halls in Scotland! 

I was part of the Erasmus programme which enables students to study or work abroad as part of their degree. This gave me the chance to meet with students from all over the world, some of which are still very good friends today.

Many people feel we don't need to learn German as on the whole Germans speak English very well. Why learn German?

German is a key language in the European Union and is the official language of six countries. It is still widely recognised as the Business language and is one of the most in-demand languages for many global companies. Knowledge of German increases your job opportunities and makes you a valuable asset to your employer.

How has learning a language impacted on your life?

Learning a language has allowed me to study abroad, make friends from all over the world, travel Europe and ultimately, secure a job in one of the most difficult and competitive job markets in years.

I have been able to speak with people in countries where neither of us spoke the other’s language, but both knew German which enabled us to communicate! 

What tips for learning a language would you give?

Visiting the country in question will teach you more than a textbook ever will. I know it might not always be possible – but if you’re presented with an opportunity to do an exchange, go on a business trip or holiday – take it! 

Mastering your verbs and their endings from the beginning is very important for German – I learnt by writing them out (quite a few times!) as I’m more of a visual learner.

What would life be without having learnt these languages?

I will always be of the opinion that everyone should have at least a basic knowledge of another language. To quote Goethe:  “He who is ignorant of foreign languages knows not his own”. 

If I hadn’t learnt German, I wouldn’t have had the time of my life studying abroad and I think I would have faced much more of a struggle after university to find a job. 

What is cool about German?

There are so many similarities in English and German – most people already know more German than they realise! 

Although many English words trace roots back to Latin, Greek and Italian, the core of English and basic words in the language are Germanic.

Resemblances in words include: Friend/Freund, all/alle, water/wasser, sit/sitzen, son/sohn, house/Haus and drink/trinken. Some other common words/expressions include: Angst, kaputt, gesundheit and kindergarten.

There are so many more, which I think gives us a huge head-start when learning the German language!

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