My name is Claire Murphy and I am originally from Aberdeen. I work as a translator at the European Commission.
What languages do you speak/have you learned, other than English?
I speak Spanish, German and Italian, and am currently learning French.
How do you use your language skills in your working life?
Obviously as a translator I use my language skills constantly to understand the texts I am translating into English. ‘Language skills’ don’t just mean understanding the words; you also need to understand the culture of the countries where those languages are spoken, so having spent time in other countries and keeping up to date with events and culture is an important part of a translator’s job.
How have languages enhanced your life?
My life would have been completely different without languages. You can't work as a translator without them! I have lived and worked abroad since I finished university, so have met a lot of my closest friends speaking another language. I found my first job as a translator at a big accountancy firm in Madrid, and later joined the Spanish Foreign Ministry’s in-house translation department. After eight years in Madrid I moved to Brussels to start working at the European Commission.
Do you have any tips or advice to share for learning a language?
Spend time in the country where your chosen language is spoken and try as hard as you can to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Listen to the local radio and watch the TV news rather than going online for news in your own language. Go to events and activities where you can meet local people. It's daunting at first but you will improve your language skills quickly when you have no alternative but to use them. Sometimes it's difficult being a native speaker of English because everyone wants to practise their English on you but make sure you get your own language practice in return!
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