Nina Torin: "I would encourage every student to explore languages, you have no idea where it might lead"

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Published on 05/03/21

In celebration of National Foreign Language Week (March 7–13 2021) our teaching teams have been sharing what inspired them to pursue languages. Nina Torin, MFL Subject Specialist Leader, shared her experience. 

When I was at school, I didn’t have the most positive experience with language learning in the classroom. I much preferred subjects like PE and art. That all changed after my parents encouraged me to take part in the French exchange trip. A stranger, from a different country, was in my house! I marvelled at the communication barrier and realised that it was going to be eye opening when my turn came to visit her family in France - my first time abroad no less.  

I returned from my trip determined that I would go back and do a better job communicating - I had this new found desire to know more and travel abroad again. I decided that pursuing a language was going to be my ticket to experience new and exciting opportunities. So, I studied hard! French went from being my worst subject to one of my favourites and my confidence soared.  

During Year 10 and 11, and then whilst studying A-levels, my commitment to French served me extremely well in my sporting exploits. When travelling abroad for tournaments, I impressed my teammates with my ability to talk to the other teams and more importantly understand what they were saying when we played against them. This was merely the first step towards language opening doors to other cultures and widening my horizons! I was finally understanding the importance of breaking down communication barriers.  

That was the beginning. I went on to study French at University, lived in France, backpacked around the world aged 25. At the age of 30, I fancied a new venture and drove to Spain to learn Spanish. I lived there for three years and met my now husband who is Venezuelan. 

 I regularly meet other adults who admire my ability to speak two foreign languages. It is a skill that is unique in this country - I stand out today as I stood out at the age of 16 amongst my sports teammates. It has unlocked so many doors and amazing experiences for me that have shaped me as a person.

The pursuit of language, travel and foreign cultures has enriched my life in so many ways and continues to do so, as there are still so many places to discover, people to meet, opportunities to seize, and maybe a couple more languages to learn! I would encourage every student to explore languages, you have no idea where it might lead.