Speaking Many Tongues (not forked!)

May 21, 2024
celebrant at outdoor event

I graduated more years ago than I care to remember. In fact, I’ve reached the age when it’s difficult to remember anything! Joking apart, I studied French and Russian (with Czech) at the University of Leeds in the 1970s.

I knew I had an aptitude for languages, and studied German informally (in my free time). I eventually obtained an A grade at A level German, so my studies weren’t really that informal!

I finished with a IIi degree in Modern Languages, and no idea what to do with it. I did know that I didn’t want to teach, but that was it.

A connection of my father set me up in the shipping department of a textile company, where I lasted a year and a half. I wasn’t cut out for the job, but wasn’t given much guidance, in truth.

By then, I had been teaching (yes, I know) adults in an evening class. Business French was the subject – not a facet of French that I was particularly familiar with. So I had to be a step ahead of the class every week, but I got through it and even enjoyed it.

So I applied for posts in full-time teaching and eventually was invited for interview at an independent secondary boarding school in a beautiful Kent village. I almost missed my train that day and then the connecting bus, but somehow managed to arrive at the school and was offered the post.

I had to do a lot of learning myself (as I was untrained, of course), but, after six years I moved on, and my teaching career took off.

Eventually, after 25 years, I moved on, having lost my mojo. I went into natural health and wellness products, which I pursued for many years (until 2023, in fact). It was not a financial success, but enjoyable, valuable for personal development and proved beneficial to many people.

In 2013 I discovered celebrancy, and, after training, have pursued a successful and meaningful career in this area, which I love.

Languages stood me in good stead as a teacher (and when travelling), but I did not expect them to be of much use on my celebrancy path.

However, as it happens, I have performed several ceremonies (including a wedding and funerals) in Russian, a Vow Renewal in French, a couple of weddings in Hebrew, and part of a wedding in Swedish (which I don’t actually speak!). I never thought it would be so useful being a linguist!

I’m still waiting for an invitation to conduct a ceremony (or part of one) in German, or, indeed in Italian or Czech (both of which I can get by in). Maybe you can send me somebody who needs a multilingual ceremony?