GUEST BLOG: Laura Rees SLA – My Experience with Languages

My Experience with Languages

Laura Rees - Student Languages Ambassador from Cardiff University


I started learning French and Welsh at Secondary School and picked up Spanish at College. I studied French, Welsh and Spanish at GCSE and French and Spanish at A Level.  I then pursued languages further into higher education and completed a BA Honours Degree in French and Spanish, with a year abroad. I also had the opportunity to study German for three years during my time at university and wrote my dissertation in French and German.


During my year abroad, I spent the first summer in Munich, Germany for three months in a language school. As a requirement of my degree, I spent my ERASMUS year abroad with the British Council as an English Language Assistant in the Territoire de Belfort, France-Comté, France.


Having been given this chance, I can say that this opportunity has been the most challenging; yet rewarding experience I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in. My primary goal was to enrich my knowledge of the French language and French culture, whilst living independently in a foreign country. I chose to spend the year in France as the French language has always been a passion of mine and one of the languages I consider most important and rewarding to learn. My decision to be in the region Franche-Comté was due to my other goal of practising the German language as well as the easy access to travel into Europe.


On my travels, I travelled the major cities of Germany and Switzerland. In doing so, I was able to experience various types of cultures and gained more awareness of my surroundings as a traveller. I then spent the remainder of the summer studying in Valencia, Spain for three months before returning to university to complete my final year. One of the most important gratifications of my year abroad was the opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds.


Last summer, I did work experience with CILT Cymru where I had the opportunity to use my language skills. I also created business profiles of many international companies based in wales which use languages almost daily, as they sell and deal with clients globally. From doing this, I was able to see how having a language, even basic, is beneficial for many sectors.


I am currently studying an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) at Cardiff University and the course offers a ‘languages for all’ programme where students are encouraged to study a language alongside their business degree. I have chosen to pick up Welsh again.


There is no greater pleasure than being able to communicate with someone in a foreign language. Although languages are challenging to learn, the rewards are fantastic and enriching. Languages offer insight into the rest of world and are a great benefit in life and for your careers prospects. They open up so many doors, providing multiple opportunities such as travelling, living and working abroad, meeting new people, building up contacts and creating friendships.


There is a whole bigger world out there, and not everyone speaks English so it is a huge eye-opener.  Even just having a basic knowledge, a few phrases such as greeting a person in their native tongue can go a long way and from personal experience, even having a basic grasp of another language can get you out of many challenging situations that you may face whilst travelling or living and working abroad. One of the greatest gratifications is that you get to experience the culture. You don’t just get to visit it but become a part of it all and you begin to appreciate it in a much deeper sense as you develop a better understanding of different cultures and customs. I love that I am able to speak, read and write in a foreign language.

– Laura Rees SLA