Rónán MacMurchaidh, Translation field officer, European Commission
Employer European Commission
Degree European Business Studies (University of Ulster)
Languages French and Irish
My interest in laguages
My interest for language studies dates back to my secondary level education. I choose to study French for my Leaving Cert, which I pursued into my third-level education. I combined French with a degree in European Business Studies at the University of Ulster, during which I spent a year abroad, living with a French farming family in the South of France.
This experience allowed me to wholly immerse myself in the language and culture, and most definitely assisted with the development of my language skills. In my opinion, taking a year abroad to spend in a country relevant to the language you are learning is ultimately the key to achieving fluency in a second language.
After time spent working in the financial services industry, I decided to further develop my language skills with a translation course through EUROPAS. Afterwards, I entered a competition presented by the European Union (EU) and earned a translating position in Brussels under the EU’s Directorate-General for Translation. After three months, I was transferred to Ireland’s European Commission Office. Ireland was in its first month of its EU presidency at the time, so the working environment was exciting. I am currently the first person to fill the position of field officer. My daily activities include translating a variety of papers into Irish, including political speeches, legislative documents, and daily news updates. I also organise and run events, which include visiting schools and talking to students about the importance of acquiring a second language in today’s globalised society.
Read, study and immerse yourself
I believe that all languages are an asset to you, whether that is an EU language, the native Irish language or an international language, such as Chinese or Arabic. My three working languages are English, Irish and French. Irish is now an official EU language, and can be counted as your third language. The EU offers a range of opportunities to language graduates. You may start in a translating position, like myself, however, often times funding for further training is available, which could facilitate a career move into other positions. The salary is also attractive. It is important to establish a multilingual
workforce to represent Ireland in the EU – without them, our national voice will struggle to be heard.
As a whole, it is important to combine a language with a technical skill, such as a language with science or business, to give yourself the best chance possible when seeking employment opportunities.
With access to international radio, TV stations and foreign literature through the internet, it is now easier than ever to learn a language. Language students should take advantage of the resources available to them, and immerse themselves in the language any way they can. Developing your language skills this way, enables you to get a feel for current phraseology and familiarise yourself with connective phrases. My best piece of advice is to read, read and read.
Study material in a different language that interests you, whether that is fashion magazines, sports articles or cook books. In this way, you will be able to make a connection and embed the language into your mind.