Alumni

Meet our languages department alumni – students who have gone into bright and promising careers using the skills they learnt in their languages lessons.

Harriet Bibby

Actor ‘Coronation Street’, Manchester

My name is Harriet and I studied at De Aston until 2016 when I left to go to drama school. Languages were so important in my education and are an invaluable skill in the industry that I chose to go into after school. As an actor, understanding different cultures and the way we communicate with each other is so important. 

I really enjoyed studying the French language and there are many transferable skills that I draw upon within my work. Not only do I think it is so important to learn a second language, but I also believe that it developed my confidence, my ability to speak in front of an audience and simply, the way I communicate with others. 

I have also travelled a lot since leaving sixth form and have used the skills that I learned while doing my French GCSE a lot. Learning a language opens up so many doors for you in later life. You can meet and communicate with so many amazing people and open yourself up to new cultures – and it all starts in the language department.

Charlotte Clarke

Cabin Crew, British Airways

I’m Charlotte and I studied French at De Aston from 2010 until 2015 and then went on to complete an A level in the subject.  

French wasn’t always the easiest subject for me, at first I found it very difficult having absolutely no knowledge at all! However, the languages department at De Aston really took a nurturing and patient approach to teaching the subject.  I can now say that I am fluent in it. I use it frequently in my day to day life as cabin crew working for British Airways. 

I’ve travelled to over 40 countries now, I love visiting the French speaking parts of Canada, and of course France. For me, speaking French is not only a great personal achievement, but it allows me to connect with a larger group of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I also believe that speaking a second language really makes you stand out as a candidate. Throw yourself into it! 

Adam Dame

Psychology Student, University of Nottingham

I studied at De Aston from year 7 to 13, and for all 7 years I studied French, with a brief excursion into German, which I also learnt for 3 years. I loved studying in this department, as all the teachers were so helpful and you could really tell they had a genuine passion for their subject.

I was always drawn to French as a subject, as not only did it allow me to learn a second language (which is SO important), but also it broadened my horizons to other cultures to my own. Learning a second language is an invaluable skill today, because the world has become a global, interconnected society that doesn’t wait for anyone to catch up.

Having studied a language beyond GCSE level, it really sets you aside for employers, as once you have reached that level, the language never really leaves you. Many European languages all derive from Latin, so once you learn the fundamentals of one, it becomes a lot easier to understand another. For example, learning French now could help you learn Italian later in life. 

I am now a psychology student at University of Nottingham, and I’ve found there is such a buzz for travelling among students. I’m so glad that I studied languages when I did, because now I can visit the places that I learnt about and use the skills that I developed to enrich my experiences even further.

St Andrews University

Hannah Hall

Retail Strategy Consultant, London

My name is Hannah – I was a student at De Aston, after which I studied French and Russian at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Today I am a retail strategy consultant living in London. I work with companies both in the UK and abroad, to help them better understand their customers and improve the way they do business. Sometimes I use my French language.

About three years ago, I had a project in France for a brand of denim. It was very interesting and I had to write the reports and make the presentations in French, which were very difficult!

park avenue armuory

Kate Marshall

International Engagement Officer, British Library

I’m Kate and I live in Lincolnshire, but I work in London in the national library. I loved the opportunity to learn languages at De Aston and took French, German and English Literature at A Level.  I went on to study French and German at university, but changed course in my third year to complete my degree in History of Art, graduating in 2001.  My rather broad interests in “culture” were well served by both the language and the history of art elements of my degree – I was able to study bits of French and German literature, history, art, philosophy, music, politics and more, all as part of the course.

After graduating I moved to London and worked for an antiquarian book and map dealer on Bond Street.  My languages (including that GCSE Latin …) served me well as I catalogued for sale a huge variety of antiquarian maps, atlases, travel books and other material in a whole host of different languages.  The business also had many international clients and I travelled frequently with the job to book and map fairs around the world.

This is me (somehwere in the middle, in a red coat – it was freezing) setting up the New York Antiquarian Book Fair in about 2008 at the Park Avenue Armory …

In 2013 I moved to the British Library to work on cataloguing the King’s Topographical Collection – the approximately 50,000 maps, topographical prints, drawings, atlases, albums and books that had formerly belonged to King George III.  Languages were an essential job requirement.  For those of you interested in reading a little more you might like to look at https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/king-george-iii

I have now started a new job at the British Library and am now International Engagement Officer, again requiring knowledge of languages.  Under what one might call the umbrella of cultural diplomacy, I work with diplomats, embassies and others, as well as with professional library colleagues from around the world (often from other national libraries), on official visits to, and engagement with, the British Library.  I am also working to organise the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) while Roly Keating, the British Library’s Chief Executive, is also CENL’s Chair.