Notes: founder of Bili, the online student language exchange platform
My name is Charlie Foot and I'm the founder of Bili, a free online student language exchange, which enables sustained and structured peer-to-peer interaction, in a safe, teacher monitored space.
What sparked your interest in languages and which languages do you speak?
I speak French and German and am currently starting to learn Spanish. I suppose initially, it was more a function of feeling quite good at it. The nature of learning a language ‘little and often’ fitted much better with my approach than more content-filled subjects, where last-minute cramming never really paid off for me!
That said, my real love for languages was really sparked by the doors it opened for me, through a combination of travelling, living abroad, and getting to know a culture and people different from my own.
Why do you think languages are an important skill to have?
I think it gives you a much better perspective on the world, and your own place in it. I think it’s incredibly important to broaden your horizons, through new connections with different people, understanding of different cultures and different experiences. Speaking to people in their own language creates opportunities for much deeper connections, it is also incredibly rewarding simply being able to communicate!
How have language skills helped you in your life and work?
Languages have had a huge impact on my life. From the time I spent in Germany and France on my year abroad and the great friends from that, to the literature, culture and philosophy of different countries I learned about studying at Glasgow and beyond; and they have of course been central to my career as a languages teacher and in setting up my own business, Bili.
In your experience, would you say that cultural awareness has been important?
Yes, I think cultural awareness has been really important both from the side of interacting with native speakers, and in the country, but probably even more from the side of learning about other countries and cultures, which in itself has been a huge motivation for me.
More recently, communicating with different schools across the world and having a clear understanding of the cultural context of the different schools by region, country and type has been essential.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
Do it. Little and often. Don’t give up. Make lots of mistakes (it means you’re learning!). Enjoy it. Keep it up and keep pushing out of your comfort zone (that’s where the best stuff happens)!
Return to Job Profiles