Spotlight: Alex Rawlings
I was born and raised in London, where languages were all around me. Apart from the English and Greek that I had at home, on the street I would regularly hear Afrikaans, Polish, German, French, Russian and others too. At school I studied French, German and Spanish but when aged 14 I started teaching myself Dutch, my love for learning languages became unstoppable. I studied lots of different languages and would spend my weekends trying to find tourists in Central London to practise with. I’ve always loved travelling and meeting new people, and I was lucky enough to take part in lots of school exchanges and study trips to Spain, France and Germany, which introduced me to many of the friends I have all around the world. At university there was no question of me studying languages – the thought of spending a year living in a foreign country was too amazing to pass on – and so I picked German and beginner’s Russian. I finished in 2014 and after spending a year living in Budapest learning Hungarian, I now live in Valencia, Spain.
My favourite subjects at school were always the humanities. Of course I loved languages, but anything that was about people was for me. How people live, what people think, what people do every day around the world has always fascinated me, and been a huge motivation to learn more languages and find out for myself. I loved history and English because of that, and studying modern languages at university was the perfect way to learn about both, while using my languages as well!
I work as a language instructor for intensive 1-to-1 language courses, which I teach to students around the world over Skype, and I would say that is entirely down to the fact that I studied languages at university. I mainly teach German and Russian, and studying them in so much detail has meant that I can pass on how I learnt particular pieces of grammar or how I remember certain words directly to my students. Studying languages at university means you develop an enormous vocabulary through reading so much, which helps as well when my students ask for obscure words! Studying Russian intensively as a beginner before having an immersion experience in the country is also an experience that I draw on regularly when talking either to my online students or when giving advice at the monthly Polyglot Workshops that I run with Richard Simcott in locations around the world.
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