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With a passion for languages, David Marshall is a translator and German speaker who works with individuals and businesses to translate documents, market to German tourists, and hone their German speaking skills for business and socialising. Helping you to trade, travel and exercise a new skill, here he explains how he’s helping people to enjoy the art of German conversation in the South Hams…
With GermanSpeaking.org I really wanted to explore different ways that I can use my German language skills in the South Hams and also to help other people to find both practical and social ways to enjoy a different language. There are a lot of international tourists in this part of the world and I can help businesses to communicate with prospective clients more effectively.
I am a freelance translator and mostly I work on a mix of commercial and financial documents for companies that need to communicate in German and English, especially when it comes to things like terms and conditions.
However, I also like to try to create the opportunity for people to really develop, use and enjoy their language skills as part of a community enhancing experience. So in addition to my work, I host a weekly get-together at Coasters in Kingsbridge on Thursdays between 2 and 3pm. A group of us meet up, have a coffee and speak a little bit of German. It's totally free, some people are learning, some people are fluent and for some people it’s their first language, but it’s a chance to practice, enjoy and gain confidence.
Tourism is really important in the South Hams, so I want to help local businesses to be more accessible to people coming here from other countries. Sometimes that means creating social media posts or written content in German, sometimes it’s more about conversation skills.
A big thing that has struck me in the summer months when I visited Cornwall is the number of German registered cars driving around, and that it’s a market we can do more to attract to the South Hams.
Obviously trade is big between Germany and the UK. There are other communities in the UK that provide a lot of foreign language documents for German speaking tourists, but we don’t do a lot of it here. There's definitely an opportunity to market to a different audience and encourage more German speaking tourists to visit our beautiful part of the world.
I have always enjoyed German, from school and then studying it at Cardiff University, where I also studied French. I spent six months living in Germany as an English language assistant for the British Council. After that I worked for a credit management and debt collection company doing translations and liaising with the German office. They were always very surprised that I spoke German fluently, but that familiarity with the language really helped to engage with people and have better working relationships. After that, I had the opportunity to go freelance as a translator, which is what I have now been doing for 10 years.
I am starting to look at tutoring as well as offering translation. I don’t come from a teaching background, but I have a passion for language and I use it daily. I don’t think you need to be a master of the language to enjoy it or use it successfully. I really want to encourage people to give it a go because it’s such a rewarding thing to do and it’s in our interests to be a bit more connected.
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