How learning a second language made me a better communications professional

What does learning French have to do with communications? Well, the two might be more closely linked than you think. For a start, it means being able to communicate in two languages.

However, there are also a series of skills that are nurtured during the process of learning a language – skills which are directly applicable to the world of marketing.

Hear from Senior Communications Executive Bronia Hennessy, who discusses how learning a second language has enabled her to build the foundations of a successful career in marketing and communications.

The journey to communications

My career in communications and marketing began whilst I was studying English Literature and French at university. Whilst getting stuck into my assignments, I started to explore how I could turn my love of storytelling and languages into a full-time career.

I stumbled across a couple of voluntary opportunities to manage the social media for various literary festivals and two martial arts organisations.

This is where I got my first taste of marketing, and it is only as I enter my third year in this industry that I can see the impact that my years of language learning – and the skills this has afforded me – have had on my career so far.

Understanding your audience

Understanding your audience is one of the most important aspects of communications – and, unsurprisingly, in French too. Whilst trying to navigate conversations with French speakers, I learned quite quickly that I needed to carefully evaluate the characteristics of people with whom I was communicating.

Not only was this essential for determining the most effective way to convey what I wanted to say – and to do this in a way which resonated with that person – but it was also vital to use the correct pronouns and verb conjugations to avoid causing any offence. For example, by using an informal pronoun towards a more senior member of staff.

This analysis of audiences has followed me from language learning to communications, where it plays an integral role in the success of any project. Whether it’s PR, digital marketing or something in between, success is generally determined by how well our team has communicated with the client’s target audience. So, understanding the audience is always a great place to start!

Attention to detail

In learning a language, I became familiar with its grammatical rules and the plethora of exceptions to those rules.

Rigorous exam marking meant that I paid very close attention to these rules and exceptions, and my experience with French speakers demonstrated how the incorrect use of grammar could trip me up in conversations and prevent someone from understanding what I was trying to say.

This attention to grammar and how it can impact conversations came to feature more strongly in my use of English and is essential in my new role at Leopard Co, working on a range of clients.

After all, we all know the huge faux pas that is sending out a press release or social media post with a grammatical error or spelling mistake!

Adaptability

Learning a language and working in communications both require adaptability. Surely, we have all rehearsed a few sentences for a trip abroad, only to be met with a barrage of words we don’t understand when we try to put them into practice.

Whilst this can be a frustrating situation, having this experience in French taught me how to think on my feet and use the knowledge I have available to navigate that situation effectively.

Adaptability is an integral skill in an agency environment where, as Senior Communications Executive, I am constantly juggling the workload of multiple clients. At a moment’s notice, a deadline can be moved forward, meaning I need to switch from one project to another and of course, to always maintain that best of breed communications.

Want to know more about what it’s like to work in an agency like spottydog? Follow Bronia’s journey via LinkedIn as she settles into her new role! 

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