Notes: Modern Languages Teacher
My name is Olivia and I was born in Cambridge, where I spent most of my childhood. I always knew that I wanted to travel and see the world so it seemed natural to me to learn languages.
Which languages did you study at school and beyond?
At school I studied French, German and Spanish - they didn't offer any other languages but if they had, I've no doubt I would have had a go at them too! Before taking up my place at University to study Spanish with French, I spent a year working in France, Spain and Holland. My family live in Holland so I go there quite often. My first job was in Utrecht (Holland) making phone calls to French farmers to arrange for Dutch students to go grape-picking in the South of France - certainly not a job I had expected to do, but sometimes that is how life works: you travel and meet people, then opportunities come along.
What has been the impact of languages on your life?
As is customary for a languages degree, I spent the third year living abroad - in Paris and then Barcelona. I loved it so much in Barcelona that I moved out there on the day after my final exam. That is where I stayed for the next seven years, working first as an English teacher, then as a translator/editor. Being a translator at different agencies meant that work was very varied, so one day I would be translating poems from Spanish into English, and the next I was helping to translate 'Eastenders' into Catalan! I ended up working at TV3, the Catalan TV channel as a linguistic consultant for several years, which was really enjoyable.
Do you have a message to share about the importance of learning other languages?
For me, learning a language is all about seeing life in different ways. When you learn a foreign language, you connect with the identity of the culture where that language is spoken - sometimes it can feel like you're revealing a new side of your own personality! For instance, when I speak French I feel a little chic, and when I speak Spanish, I feel more passionate and confident! I also love seeing how people react when you speak their language, especially if they're not expecting it - they always comment in a positive way so you know they appreciate it. It's all about communication really: the more languages you speak, the more people you can communicate with.
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