TESSA WOOD. BA. Multilingual Studies: French, Italian & Spanish.
The expression “flogging a dead horse” springs to mind when I think of the career choices I’ve made so far in my life. I remember the day I filled out the seemingly harmless form for my G.C.S.E. subject choices when I was fourteen. Mum deduced from my marks that I was good at French and German, so that was it. Decision made. Since then, my main focus has been languages. Only now, eight years down the line, have I recognized a pattern…. I’m not fluent in French, nor Italian. In fact, I’m so ashamed of my inability to speak French, for example, I often neglect to mention that I have a degree in the bloody thing! My Spanish is atrocious. My German is embarrassing. And, to top it all, I still don’t really know the rules regarding apostrophes in English.
I think I may have confused my passion for traveling for a love of languages. I do enjoy learning languages, I love experiencing different cultures and meeting interesting people. However, I hate the pressure that is on me to speak in English, let alone in another language where I can barely string a sentence together. I inherited a fear of being wrong from my Father. I’m not blaming him, mind you, but I have recognized this trait in my own actions and it’s frustrating. Just go for it. You learn from your mistakes! I know this, honestly I do, but old habits die hard! The upshot is that I don’t take a risk, so I make no mistakes, therefore I learn nothing. I adopted the smile and nod routine for most of my student life. That is, a coy, half-nod, half-smile, nothing too emphatic or dramatic in case the situation does not merit such a response. This is a universal technique and I can’t claim to have invented it but I have definitely perfected it!
So now I am working as a Language Monitor at a private school in a little town just North of Montreal, Quebec. The funny thing is that I swore I would never be a teacher, but why? And what’s changed? At first the school atmosphere was a little odd, the desks, lockers, uniforms etc., brought back so many memories of a life without responsibilities where the biggest fear was tripping over whilst carrying a full tray in the cafeteria. I am a member of staff but I can really relate to the kids, they just don’t know it. And I suppose they wouldn’t appreciate it if I grabbed them by the shoulders and shook them, screaming “make the most of it” and “These are the best years of your lives!”. But that’s what I’d like to do.
Admittedly, I would not have been accepted to take part in this program if I hadn’t achieved the degree I half-heartedly stumbled towards over the past four years. I am grateful for the experiences I gained as a result of going to University, I have friends from all over the world and I have been to some crazy places. I’ve certainly got some stories to tell te Grandchildren. I must say though, university isn’t for everyone. Nowadays, people feel that they must achieve a Masters before they can really get on with their life?
Recently I have tried to tackle the question: What do I really want to do?
Well, this Language Assistantship has bought me another year (and who knows I might even learn to speak French!).