Who am I?
Hello, how are you? I’m Elena, a language nut and novice blogger who only found out earlier today that the word ‘blog’ is an abbreviation for ‘web-log’ – you learn something every day! For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination for languages and culture and for some reason, they have always been part of me. I was born in a small Welsh-speaking village in Carmarthenshire, West Wales and from a young age, I had this incredibly desire to learn other languages. Being bilingual and having the ability to switch back and forth between such diverse language systems as those of Welsh and English intrigued me and I was keen to learn more. As a child growing up in a predominantly Welsh-speaking village, I found anyone not Welsh-speaking ‘exotic’ and quite mysterious! I remember my grandparents telling me about the Italian Prisoner-of-War camp that used to be on the edge of the village and how the Italian soldiers used to help out on the surrounding farms with barely any English to contend with. I remember feeling very sad about that as a child. I also remember a German lady called Inge who used to stop outside our house for a chat with my parents every so often. Even if I were inside, I would recognise her straight away from her heavily accented English. Again, I found this ‘foreignness‘ gave me an insight into what lay outside the parameters of my own village, and I found it fascinating and wanted to know more!
Fast forward two decades, and I have travelled the world, speak 5 languages, have a BA in Spanish, German and Italian, an MA in Translation, a PGCE teaching qualification in languages (11-18 years), CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults) and have gained an Italian husband along the way! Languages really have become part of my life!
My language journey
I have taught in secondary schools (independent and state) in the UK and the Channel Islands for over 15 years now, mainly as Head of Languages. I am also an examiner for the AQA examination board and a professional translator. I love sharing my passion for language and culture with my students and I know from experience that when learning a new language, it is very important to have teachers that make you feel enthusiastic and comfortable, and who teach you something relevant and useful every lesson. I was fortunate to have one of those in my first ever German teacher, Gillian Davies. In a bizarre turn of events, 12 years after I left secondary school to study languages at university, I was employed as Head of Languages in the very same school and became her boss! We are still in regular contact today and for me, she was truly inspirational!
Purpose of this blog
I currently work as a professional translator and language tutor and the purpose of this blog is to share with you useful and interesting facts about learning languages. My mission is to get you just as excited as me about languages and culture because they really do enrich your life! I have just about ticked off 60 places on my ‘100 Places to See Before You Die’ poster and I wouldn’t have had so much fun visiting these places had I not made an effort to speak their languages. Speaking other languages gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction, I don’t miss out on anything and I can contribute easily to conversations and know what’s going on, be that in Buenos Aires or Milan.
Being able to speak different languages has allowed me to access more job opportunities and connections. Even though English is one of the great global languages of the 21st century, it can only take us so far. Only 6% of the world’s population speaks English as a first language and 75% of the world’s population doesn’t speak any English at all. The rise of globalisation means that being able to speak another language is more important than ever.
Oh and another thing, did you know that researchers claim that speaking a second language delays the onset of dementia later in life?
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