Welcome to Intrepid English, Thomas!
Thank you! I’m excited to begin.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Of course. I’m originally from Cardiff. I did my English BA back in Wales and then moved to Warwick to do my Master’s. I spent some time in Italy as an Erasmus student, completing my MA. I spent some time afterwards gaining experience as a freelance writer and editor before I moved to Edinburgh a little over a year ago. It’s in Edinburgh where I studied to get my CELTA certificate and began teaching English.
What do you like most about learning languages?
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know any other languages. I can speak a little Welsh but am by no means fluent. I feel that native English speakers are incredibly privileged and we all need to do more to understand new cultures and to not just live in our bubbles. When a foreign speaker apologises to me about their English I insist they do not apologise. For I do not know their language, thus I need to do more. Italy has always been close to my heart, the food, the lifestyle, the architecture and, of course, the beauty of the language. Maybe 2018 will be the year I finally learn more than the word ‘grazie’.
What's the hardest thing about learning a language?
From being taught Welsh in school I can say definitively that the hardest parts are pronunciation and spelling. Those two things go hand-in-hand – if you can’t say the word, you can’t spell it. Crack one and you’ve cracked them both. But of course language is all about practice.
What advice would you give to English language learners?
The English language is full of contradictions. You may want a clean and clear rule but that’s not always the case. My advice? Enjoy being creative with the language. Enjoy learning the rules and then bending them with your own writing.
You mentioned that you love living in Edinburgh. What do you like most about it?
When I visited Rome a few months ago it made me feel close to history. There’s only one other city that does this for me and it’s Edinburgh. Standing on the Grassmarket or the Royal Mile or the Meadows makes me realise how much history comes with this city. This also transcends into the nature of storytelling. The Edinburgh residents are storytellers. They adopt this role every day, filling in tourists on the history of Arthur’s Seat or simply pointing them in the right direction to the Walter Scott Monument. Nothing is the same in Edinburgh, nothing is done twice, so no story can be told the same. And that’s what I love about this city.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to our Intrepid English students?
I’m looking forward to working with you. We have much to accomplish.
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