AN ALUMNA WITH A LOVE OF LANGUAGES
Daniella Wood had a passion for languages from an early age and has forged a successful career in this field. Having studied German, French and English Language A-levels, Daniella went on to read French and German with Dutch at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and has never looked back. Since graduating, Daniella has lived and worked in Germany where she runs her own successful teaching business. We were thrilled when Daniella recently came back to school as a guest speaker on European Languages Day and are delighted with the Q and A she has prepared for us. Please read on to find out what inspired Daniella to pursue a career using her languages, why she loves it so much, as well as some valuable advice for students who are considering studying languages at A-level and at university.
What A-levels did you study at Richmond Sixth Form College?
The subjects I chose to study at A-level were German, French, English Language, and Music.
What triggered your interest in Modern Foreign Languages?
A couple of different aspects played a role in sparking my interest in languages early on. As a musician, I’d always had a love for sound, and languages are essentially just that – certain sounds strung together in a particular order! It still fascinates me how people all over the world can communicate with one another simply by combining sound in different ways. My eldest sister, Natasha, was also a keen linguist. She would always come home from school and teach me new words she had learnt that day and share her enthusiasm for the German culture with me. That definitely helped to foster my early interest in culture and languages. Lastly, I found that speaking in a foreign language filled me with the confidence that I was otherwise lacking to speak to people; I was quite shy at school, but finding that I could speak to a French or German person and be understood by them really brought me out of my shell and taught me to believe in my own abilities.
Where did you go to university and what did you read?
After A-Levels, I went on to study French and German with Dutch at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. As part of my degree course, I was sent to live and work in France and Germany for one year, where I can safely say I had the best time of my life! I had the most incredible experiences, travelled around Europe every weekend, and connected with some wonderful people, many of whom I am still in touch with today.
What was your first job after university?
After graduating, I moved to Germany, where I got myself a job teaching English to German students at the University of Göttingen. I was also working on the side as a freelance translator. I found that teaching was my passion, as it enabled me to pass my love and enthusiasm for languages on to others and see them thrive.
When did you decide to set up your own business? Please tell us a little about your business.
When the pandemic hit in 2019, we were forced to go online with our language lessons at the university and, once we’d all settled in to our new digital environments and I saw that it actually worked just as well as a real classroom, if not better, I realized that teaching online would potentially open me up to a much larger clientele, not just in the whole of Germany but worldwide. So, I made the decision to become self-employed, set up a website, and start creating my own online English courses for native speakers of German. Soon enough, the inquiries started to come in and, before I knew it, I was fully booked! It was the best decision I have ever made, as I now not only have the freedom to work wherever I want in the world, but I also spend all of my time doing exactly what I love – speaking and teaching languages – and meeting some very interesting people from all walks of life along the way!
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Languages at A-level and at university?
If you’re not sure whether to study a foreign language, I can only say, “Go for it!” It opens you up to a completely new culture, new people, new food, new music, and, of course, many new job opportunities. I would not be where I am today – literally and metaphorically! – if I didn’t make that decision to continue learning languages at A-level. My advice would be to surround yourself as much as possible with the language you’re learning – watch films on Netflix in that language, change your phone to that language, listen to music from that country, watch YouTube videos, and download free language apps. You don’t have to sit with your nose in a grammar book – there are so many resources that are available to you these days that make learning a language easy and fun!
Are there any teachers who inspired you during your time at Richmond School and Sixth Form College?
Absolutely! My German teachers Miss Dutton and Mr Potter and my French teachers Mrs Norman and Miss Merckx were always so kind, patient, and encouraging, not to mention tons of fun! I really do feel very lucky to have been taught by them and I can’t thank them enough for giving me such a great start on my journey with languages. “Vielen Dank!”, Frau Dutton and Herr Töpfer, and “merci beaucoup!” Madame Norman and Madame Merckx! I don’t know if teachers ever truly realise the effect they have on their students, but for me, it certainly was a big one.
(photo credits: Katrina Wood and Richmond School)