Celebrating Europe Day 2015. Amy Kordiak explores how a love of languages has opened doors in her career.
As a young girl, I was obsessed with all things foreign. My grandmother was a Polish refugee who came to Wales during the war, and I think that she started my passion and interest in the wider world.
She would sing Polish folk songs whilst cooking the most delicious meals and there were remnants of her life in Poland throughout her flat: Polish eagles, Polish flags and pictures of the then Polish Pope!
She was a polyglot too ( a speaker of several languages ) and had to learn them to get by on her travels.
In secondary school, languages were pretty much all I was interested in. I always saw it a bit like building a house in that once you had the foundations in place ( grammar ) you could find exciting and colourful bricks ( words ) to use to be as creative as you liked.
I would spend hours memorising words, trying to translate lyrics and finding new foreign pen pals. My friends thought I was mad as they found languages dull as dishwater.
During my career, being able to speak French and German has always been a conversation starter.
I often wondered when I got my degree what path my career would take as I didn’t want to teach or translate but I soon realised that I could add other strings to my bow, languages could however remain close to my heart and be my trump card.
I have been fortunate enough to manage to incorporate my degree into most of my jobs. Even as a youth worker, because of my language skills, I was asked to lead youth exchanges and teach the young people I supported French.
Boost your CV by learning a language!
Many employers in Wales conduct business throughout Europe and ask for a foreign language as a desirable skill alongside the ability to speak Welsh.
European investment in Wales has further strengthened this need yet the number of students taking up languages is on the decline year on year.
There is a huge gap that needs to be plugged and is vital for European integration. In addition to this, I have found that employers pay more if you can add a language into the mix as they have fewer candidates to select from.
So, give yourself an advantage in the European job market and boost your CV by learning a language.
There are lots of online resources available for beginners that can help you decide which language to choose and many people out there desperate to keep their language skills alive!