From education to employment

On the Eve of Success for budding polyglot

Eve Vincent is on her way to Clare College, Cambridge after picking up an A* in French and A grades in English and History in her A Levels.

What is unusual about Eve’s story, is that she will be studying French and Russian at Cambridge after teaching herself Russian from the age of 15!

Speaking after collecting her results, Eve said: “I’m obsessed with languages and I’ve loved French for a long time. I first developed a passion for Russian after a school history trip to Germany. We visited lots of historic monuments and many of them had Russian writing on them. I felt fascinated and intrigued by the language and was keen to be able to understand what all writing meant. I felt so inspired that decided to teach myself Russian.”

When Eve decided that she wanted to study Russian at University, she enlisted the help of Nina, a Russian student who was studying English language at Neath College. “She grew up during the USSR period of Russian history so her perspective on things was extremely valuable to me,” explained Eve.  “She didn’t speak a lot of English when I first met her, but we spoke comfortably in either language. She always brought Russian magazines, books, stories and maps so that I could practice my Russian, and learn about the culture, and she could share her experience and knowledge with me.”

Eve and Nina met twice weekly in Neath Library where Eve was also able to help Nina improve her English and the two have become firm friends. “She has actually followed my journey through the Cambridge application process quite closely and been supportive,” said Eve.

Eve also developed her Russian language independently through language apps and YouTube to communicate with Russian teenagers. “I use Skype and other online platforms and have made lots of Russian friends who I chat to regularly about our lives and about current affairs, to practice my language. I also like to send letters and postcards to the Russian friends I’ve made,” said Eve.

Eve is quick to point out that her story doesn’t have to be unique. “I never thought someone like me could go to somewhere like Cambridge. I am proud of my roots and come from a council estate.  I’m the first person in my family to go to university, so the whole thing was very new to us all. I had lots of support from my family during the application process, but I still had no idea what to expect. I’ve always been mindful of the fact that I need to study hard if I want to do all the things I’d like to do and accomplish everything I’ve dreamt of doing, like being able to study and live abroad for example. I’ve always seen my education as a way of going beyond my small-town, working class upbringing.”

Eve is excited about what the future holds for her. After University, she hopes to pursue a career as an interpreter and her long-term dream is to be a polyglot – she plans to learn Mandarin, Romanian, and maybe Italian too!

Eve has this advice for any budding linguists. “Learning a new language can be very demoralising and demotivating to begin with, especially a language with a totally new alphabet. I had to get used to going back to basics and feeling like a child again! It’s a huge challenge and you have to be prepared to make errors, but it’s definitely worth persisting with,” she added.

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