Q&A with a Language Professional is a new series of interviews dedicated to showcasing the wonderfully diverse career paths we linguists and language professionals might take and what language means to us all. Same set of questions – yet very different answers indeed!
This time, the questions are answered by Paola Francesi, originally from Italy, who has a solid background in language training and uses a holistic approach. She is a CELTA qualified teacher and she is currently in the process of completing a DELTA qualification. She loves studying about the brain: her qualifications include: Neurolanguage Coaching® (concept founded by Rachel Paling) and several CPD accreditations (Leadership, Decision Making, Healthy Brain Habits, after attending workshops run by TEDx speaker Gabija Toleikyte). Finally, Paola started to meditate back in 2008 and recently became a Mindfulness mentor.
What does ‘language’ mean to you?
Paola: Language is one of the best ways to express ourselves. I really love communication. It can be truly meaningful and can also have a huge impact on our reactions and emotions in the interactions. I have always been passionate about learning foreign languages.
I strongly believe in the power of simplicity in communication. The quote by Mandela,”If you talk a man a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”, is extremely powerful. It says a lot about language!
I am also a massive fan of Professor David Crystal, He is a real master of the language and communication. I remember listening to his podcasts on bbclearningenglish section when I was a learner (“Keep your English up to date”).
What is your journey about?
Paola: My journey is mainly about helping others to go through a transformative process in life as a whole, when learning a new language.
I consider myself someone who thrives and my mission is to leave an impact and awaken the inner power in my clients. I do my best to make that difference. Be the best version of myself first and empower others.
Where did you start from, and where are you now?
Paola: It started from me dreaming of London. I can still picture this little girl in my head, (me) watching Mary Poppins, loving the English language and be dreaming of moving to London. Quite whimsical.
Tell us about your successes and career highlights.
Paola: I feel lucky. I can meet so many different and interesting people in my work. I feel loved and appreciated, every single second. I give body and soul and I feel truly fulfilled.
My work with William Curley (patisserie in London), was very rewarding. I helped him for his speech during a time when he wanted to join Relais Dessert. Just to mention one of the many. Love being a Neurolanguage Coach®.
Another great experience (involving interpreting) was when I helped a journalist in his interview with a Japanese tailor in Florence. The article was published on the FT.
What does an average day look like in your life?
Paola: Every day is different. However, I try to combine both stability and novelty. It is very important. During lockdown I have been self-isolating and working online. It has been challenging to face the change. As human beings, we are wired to connect. I also try to attend Conferences, join networking events, whenever I can.
Have you ever thought of changing directions, and if so, why?
Paola: I have always been very introspective and during lockdown people have been telling me that my voice is calming and soothing. I do not feel I am particularly calm, but I guess I naturally find my own strategies to cope with challenging situations and stress. So, as shared during the networking event about “shifting gears”, I am getting qualifications for Mindfulness and willing to share my experience with it (after my paroxysmal benign vertigo) in webinars, to help other people.
My plan is to continue to be a Neurolanguage Coach® and started to dip my toes in the Mindfulness world, see what is out there.
Can you identify anything that might be challenging in the future for your particular profession?
Paola: Right now, the online side of the language training process. However, it seems to be getting better. Different emotions, a real shift and adaptation to the new normal. Feels like we are grieving our past before covid (as psychologist Esther Perel suggests). This means innovation, embracing the digital world, increase in spirituality, too. I am open to what is going to happen. Some of my clients were very nervous to switch to it.
Do you see artificial intelligence as an opportunity or more like a threat in your industry?
Paola: I have spoken to people in different industries and it seems like it is having a huge impact and causing job losses. I have been to a few talks, too run by the Royal Society, (before covid happened). I recently came across the book by Amit Ray (spiritual master) “Compassionate Artificial Intelligence”. I look forward to exploring its content.
Where are you heading? What is the rest of the journey like as you see it now?
Paola: It is quite hard to say at the moment as I am still figuring out all the changes (like all of us, I feel). I can certainly share that I dream of visiting California.
Any books / movies / exhibitions / events / art that you would recommend us language professionals to read / watch / visit?
Paola: I went to an exhibition at the British Library last year that I feel linguists would have really enjoyed (might happen again) “Writing: Making your Mark”. I had purchased a small printed version of the Diamond Sutra – the world’s oldest printed book. There is also a paperback version of “Writing: Making your Mark” that it is possible to purchase.
I certainly recommend to keep an eye on the progress of the Conference “Meaningful Week” organised by Teachers Teach Teachers. It is going to take place in February. The organisers are excellent. Very supportive and active. I am going to attend it myself. Worth watching the space. I was interviewed by Anita (one of the organisers) on IGTV (Teachers around the World).
Do you have a favourite quote, or a life mantra you live by?
Paola: Thank you for the question. What a great interview, Gabriella. I tend to be inspired by quotes on a daily basis and that helps, depending on the day and how I feel. However, my favourite quote is the one by Audrey Hepburn:
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible!”.
I feel this is so engrained in my brain that people feel this by me.
How can we find you in the online space? Website, LinkedIn, or email perhaps?
Paola Francesi – EFL teacher – LSI Language Studies International | LinkedIn
Paola Francesi Language Coach (facebook.com)
Paola Mindfulness Meditation and Sounds (facebook.com)
paolafrancesiLC (@paolafrancesiLC) / Twitter
Thank you so much for your time, Paola. Congratulations on the fantastic achievements. Wishing you all the best for your future.