My name is Andrew and I work in London as a Character Animator on a children's TV series. I grew up in the Scottish Borders and studied for 4 years in Dundee for my degree before moving down to London last year to start working.
As well as English, have you learned, or do you speak, any other languages?
I've been teaching myself French for the past few years after leaving school. I've picked up small amounts of other languages such as Swedish and Gaelic out of interest or to chat with friends from other countries but French has always been my main focus.
Do you get the opportunity to go abroad as part of your job? If so, how do you communicate with people when you are there?
Although it is perfectly possible to sustain my career within London using only English, the benefit of the job is there are so many booming industries across the globe. Animation is currently huge in France, Canada and Japan with growing areas across the world so naturally a grasp of a foreign language is a huge benefit and will open opportunities to travel whilst working. English is a universal language and you tend to have a good chance finding someone who speaks some level of English no matter where you are but if you really want to make the most of exploring the culture and embracing a community then learning the local tongue is a must.
Why do you think it is important to be able to speak other languages?
I think it's hugely important to be able to speak another language. It unlocks areas of the world you may have never seen yourself before and gives you the chance to meet and learn from people across the globe that you would not have had the opportunity to do without knowing a language.
Even just being in London I can see the importance. As an international city you are constantly surrounded by native speakers of languages from all over the world. It makes you realise that even on your own doorstep, there are plenty of opportunities to use a foreign language!
Which language or languages have you found useful in your field of work?
Personally I see a large usefulness for French in my field due to many big studios being in France and Canada. When I pick a second language to learn I would feel an inclination to Spanish as it opens up huge communities in Latin America as well as Europe. My interests aside however, I think it all depends on what you want to get out of it. You need to sit down and consider your own goals and if you come out with the resolution that you want to start a coffee shop in Finland then you should put your efforts into Finnish instead of what you feel you should learn because it's popular. When you have a goal for your language learning that's personal to you, it will keep you motivated to keep progressing and is incredibly rewarding.
Something has to be said about supporting local languages too such as Gaelic. Though they may never be a global tongue, they play a huge part in our culture. It would be a shame to let them disappear into extinction because they don't have business power.
Do you have a message to share about the importance and the benefits of language learning?
Language learning is a very sociable act. I've discovered that you learn best not by burying your nose in books but by diving in and chatting with locals. This method of learning is fun and opens your eyes to the world and I have gained good friends that I talk to regularly that I would never have had the pleasure of meeting without studying French! You open yourself up to others as they open themselves to you and you find yourself building close friendships faster than you could have imagined! Even just learning a few phrases for a holiday, you will already see how locals appreciate the effort and will feel more inclined to welcome you.
The people I have met through learning a language is what I treasure most. It can be incredibly difficult and you go through stages where you feel like you're forgetting faster than you're learning but I can guarantee what you get out of the process is worth the work.
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