Notes: Tour Guide
I am a tour guide who guides mainly German speaking tourists in Scotland and Ireland. A member of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, I have been guiding for 20 years. I also trained as a jeweller and silversmith at Glasgow School of Art and still design and make jewellery in the winter months when I'm not being followed by around 47 tourists!
As well as English, have you learned, or do you speak, any other languages?
At school, French and German were both taught from primary one, and I continued with these two languages throughout my school years, gaining A-Levels in both languages I also did several years of Latin, and a year of Greek, of which I only remember a wee poem, which probably won't get me very far today!!
Through school exchanges, I formed a very strong friendship with a family in Stuttgart, which continues to this day, about 60 years.
Which language or languages have you found useful in your field of work?
I use my German for guiding my tourists in the summer months and it gave me the opportunity to teach in Giessen University, Metal-work for future art teachers, as well as teaching art in the further education system in Germany. I lived and worked in Germany for 5 1/2 years, teaching and making jewellery.
Why do you think it is important to be able to speak other languages?
We all have the possibility to travel world-wide, but being able to communicate with people in their own language enables a far greater possibility for communication, taking one away from the superficiality of a tourist.
I have established some very important and lasting friendships through my ability to speak French and German. My holidays, as a school girl in Stuttgart were of huge influence on my development and my attitudes, probably the most influential of my life!
Do you have any memorable experiences of language learning you’d like to share?
I was immensely shy, and terrified of making mistakes in my French and German, but one situation stands out, when after watching a cowboy film on the telly in Germany with a group of friends, I asked the others why the hero didn't shoot his opponent at the final shoot-out, but got the verb wrong and came out with, "warum hat er nicht geschissen?", instead of ..."nicht geschossen?" I leave you to get the translation of my mistake!!
Do you have a message to share about the importance and the benefits of language learning?
I can only say that languages really enhance one's life and open up new horizons and wonderful opportunities. Being able to work as a German speaking tour-guide, gives me the opportunity to tell visitors about my country, at the same time driving around and showing them all the lovely places in Scotland, and, over and above, earn good money while doing something which gives me so much pleasure!
Tips... Stick with it. Try not to be shy about making mistakes. Get a translation and original of a book which you enjoy, read the language version out loud, and if there's a cd of the story, even better. Play the cd, listen to foreign radio programmes just to get the flow of the language. German and English have similar rhythms, but French is completely different. Songs and poems are good for this too! And most of all enjoy it and have fun!
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