Notes: Estate Agency Head Receptionist
My name is Emma Gallacher, I’m originally from Scotland but now live in Spain. My journey with languages has taken me to the Costa Blanca where I am head receptionist for a successful Real Estate firm.
What languages have you learned?
I have learned French, German, Italian and Spanish.
My interest started in high school learning French and German and our family holidays took us to the Adriatic coast in Italy where I made some pen pals. When I was 16 I visited a German pen pal in the Black Forest and before leaving high school I started learning Italian. It only seemed normal then to work for a well-known airline and the next step – learning Spanish!! I was told from a young age that I had a flare for languages.
How have any of your language skills helped you in your work?
I wanted to be able to communicate with ground staff, cleaners and anyone who came into contact with the aircraft and not just speak English because it was widely spoken. Having language skills has helped me find work in Spain. I am a firm believer that you should learn the language of your adoptive country. It is wrong to think that everyone speaks English. I soon found out that some nationalities only spoke in their mother tongue so it is great being able to converse with them and making them feel comfortable. Without realising it, one finds oneself translating and interpreting on a daily basis.>
What benefits do you think language skills bring?
The most basic benefit is being able to communicate and have a conversation with someone in their own language but the main benefit in learning a language is that it can take you anywhere in the world. In my case, we were able to settle in Spain and deal with all the legalities of living here without any help from anyone else. I have a young child who was born in Spain, who now speaks three languages and it is a real skill to chop and change from one language to the other. People are mesmerized by this as a lot of older British residents find it difficult learning Spanish.
Dp you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
My advice is do not hesitate to learn a language, it is interesting as well as fun. Communication is important whatever language you speak but it opens up a world of opportunities. It is easier to learn a language starting from a young age. So go for it!
Any tips on how to best approach communicating in a language you have little knowledge of?
Buy a dictionary, phrase books, audio cds, learn online especially conversationally and even better, move to a country that speaks your desired language, practice every day.
Mistakes will be made daily but it is the only way to learn and perfect the language in question.
In your experience, would you say cultural awareness is important?
Of course. It is important to immerse yourself in the culture of the country you reside in, this way you feel more a part of it and you will be accepted by the locals.
We go to many fiestas here, whether it be birthday parties or the village/town yearly celebrations, it is a great way to converse and get to know people.
Now having a child that is multilingual, our journey with languages will continue.
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