With the summer holidays growing ever closer, we thought it was about time we checked in with some of our Project Managers and asked how their language classes have been progressing this academic year.

The majority of our staff attend evening classes at the University of Southampton, which offers a variety of language stages from complete beginner up to A-level standard. This year our most popular language is Polish, with Karina and Ellen taking the Beginners’ level (Stage 1) and Amy taking the Intermediate level (Stage 2).

Amy, what have you enjoyed most about your Polish classes this year?

This is my second year of Polish evening classes, and it’s been great getting to know my classmates even better. We’re such a mixed bunch and everyone has a different perspective on learning a language, whether it’s for family, work, or purely just for the challenge (which I can assure you Polish is!). We all bring something different to the class and all learn from each other. We’re hoping to organise a group weekend away to Poland together later in the year, which will hopefully reinforce what we’ve been learning during classes!

Perhaps the most challenging of all the choices this year, Summer decided to start learning Arabic at the University and is enjoying using her new-found skills at work.

Summer, was it difficult learning a new alphabet?

The thought of learning a new alphabet was initially very daunting, especially after discovering that the form of the letter in Arabic changes depending on its position in the word. This effectively made learning each letter more like learning four letters! Luckily, the teacher broke it down into easily manageable chunks, so it wasn’t completely overwhelming. What is proving more difficult is the pronunciation of certain sounds in Arabic, particularly the ones that don’t exist in English… 

Branching out

But it’s not just the University that offers a wide range of courses; Hannah and Inma have been attending Russian classes at the Lewis School of English, with a more informal setting and plenty of opportunities for conversation practice.

Hannah, what sort of things do you learn about in class?

We’ve had a bit of everything this year. We tend to focus on the important grammar topics at the beginning of the lesson (of which Russian has many!) but then afterwards we might watch videos on current events in Russia or learn about some cultural traditions whilst eating homemade блины (pancakes). The school organises cinema trips to watch Russian films and our teacher has plenty of fiction books for us to improve our reading. Don’t be afraid to read children’s stories – we all have to start somewhere!

Are you looking to learn a new language too?

If you’re considering a career in translation and don’t want to leave your language-learning days behind you – look no further! Here at Parallel we support a variety of additional language training and encourage PMs to actively seek out opportunities both in the local area and online. Visit our careers page for more information.

Here’s what a few of our other PMs thought about their language classes:

“I have wanted to learn Italian for a long time, so I’m really grateful that the evening classes allow me to do that even with a full time job. Having just completed a degree in languages, it’s great being able to learn a new language at a relaxed pace without the pressure of exams at the end.”

“Attending evening classes for the past four years has enabled me to study a variety of languages. These languages have been beneficial for my day-to-day work.”

“I graduated from university last year and am really enjoying studying again as I find it helps to keep my brain ticking over and active. On a professional level, it’s been very useful learning Polish as we regularly handle translation projects from Poland. The knowledge of the language that I’ve gained from the evening classes, though very basic at the moment, gives me a better insight into the projects and helps to speed up the work involved.”

“Studying Polish has really helped broaden my linguistic horizons, and I have already been able to put my new skills to use both at work and socially. The classes are well-structured whilst retaining a relaxed atmosphere, which is a great way to learn a language. It’s also a perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people and make new friends.”