Inside Memrise

Meet Rob: Memrise’s New English Language Specialist

Hello, everyone! I’m Rob, and last month, I joined Memrise as the new English Language Specialist. Let me tell you a little about who I am, and how I ended up here!

How has my experience of life at Memrise been so far?

I might have only been here for a short time so far, but I am loving it. Every day has something new in store, whether it’s writing or proofreading a new blog post, working with other language specialists to innovate on and improve our courses, or meeting with the Language Research Team to hear what exciting new findings that they have made.

What got me into languages?

I was born and grew up in a town called Chatham, in Kent, not too far from London, so my native language is, naturally, English. Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by different people and their different ways of speaking and living.

At first, I started reading all about people throughout history and their different languages – the first language I started teaching myself was actually Ancient Egyptian. But after a while, I realised that there weren’t many Ancient Egyptians in Chatham for me to practise with, and so I started picking up living languages that I could use to speak to real people.

Which languages do I speak?

I started learning French on my yearly family holidays to France, and I did an exchange with my ice-hockey team to Olomouc in the Czech Republic where I was able to pick up some Czech. Then at secondary school, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn Spanish, German, Chinese, and Japanese. I also had some Deaf friends who taught me how to speak British Sign Language.

At university, I studied French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, and studied for one year in Southern China. I then moved to Barcelona to teach English for a year, where I picked up some Catalan too.

Which languages am I learning at the moment?

At the moment, I am learning Greek and Hindi. Why? Because what better reason to learn a language than to be able to cook food using a real recipe written in the language of the place the food comes from?

I love to eat, and Greek food = heaven, and Indian food = heaven!

If I had a language superpower, what would it be?

If I had a language super power, it would have to be having native speaker friends on tap to speak to me in any language I wanted at any time of the day.

I could have chosen something obvious like ‘being able to speak every language in the world’, but when it comes to language learning, the fun is in the journey, not just the destination!

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing about working for Memrise is the incredible diversity of the people working here. We have around 60 people on the team, and almost as many nationalities, with people from all corners of the globe.

Every day, you can find someone to speak to in pretty much any language you want. That makes walking through the door each morning an exciting experience, as you wonder “Which languages will I be greeted in today? Will it be ‘Guten Morgen’, ‘Tere hommikust’, ‘Καλημέρα’, ‘Günaydın’, or ‘早啊’?”

What would you recommend to someone learning English?

Have fun! For me, the key to learning another language is to enjoy it – the more you enjoy learning, the more you will want to learn. That’s why we try to make learning with Memrise as fun as possible.

It doesn’t have to be all grammar books on verb tenses, prepositions, and subjunctive moods; find some great films and TV series to watch, and songs to listen to – it can be anything that interests you.

If you like sports, watch a match with an English voiceover. If you like food, discover new recipes in English – I recommend a nice shepherd’s pie. Happy learning!

 Feeling inspired to learn a language? 

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