The last 10 years at thisislanguage.com have gone by in a bit of a kaleidoscopic blur, but one memory that will forever be etched in my mind is when our platform started being used full-time by our first ever school back in 2012. As a linguist-turned-entrepreneur, it was a tremendous thrill to have real teachers and students using the site I had built. And so, when Gresham’s School, in North Norfolk, emailed me to ask if I’d give a talk at their Careers and Languages day, I thought that a 250-mile round trip was the least I could do for such a loyal, visionary and trusting “Client #1”!
After coffee, croissants and talk of the French etymology of buttery, Anna and her MFL team brought me to the lecture theatre where I gave a talk on “Languages and the entrepreneurial mindset”. As someone who has used their languages in a variety of professions – from teaching, to hospitality, to finance, to tech – I feel very strongly about the fact that languages teach students the soft skills they will need to survive in a disrupted world, whatever career path they choose. By the end of my talk, the students seemed to agree too, so at least my sales skills are as strong as ever…
It was lovely being away from my office desk and back in a school with such an engaged MFL department and students. As 10 year anniversary presents go, I couldn’t have asked for more! Thank you, Gresham’s!
“George’s visit reaffirmed everything that we already know and love about thisislanguage.com and his talk has left a massive buzz around the school and got everyone talking about the value of languages both here and in the workplace. Even the trickiest of pupils were won over and we could not have hoped for a better outcome. thisislanguage.com has very much become part of the pupils’ language learning journey here at Gresham’s and helped us bring more authenticity and fun into the classroom. Looking forward to the next 10 years!” Anna Brighton-Watt – Head of MFL, Gresham’s
In 2022 thisislanguage.com turns 10 years old 😱! We’ve always had an ambitious aim – to bridge the gap between preparing students for assessments and getting them passionate about authentic, real-world interactions. The journey has been a fascinating and exciting one and I wanted to write a few words of thanks: to our magnificent community of language teachers all over the world, to my stellar team of TILsters and to the veritable army of 250K+ students who push their language learning to new heights every day on our fabulous and much-loved platform. It’s been a doozy.
Recently, I began learning a challenging (for me, at least) piece of music on the guitar. It was way out of my comfort zone. As my leaden fingers attempted to contort themselves into unfamiliar positions on the fretboard, I was reminded of how learning of any kind puts us through similar struggles. It’s exactly this feeling that our students experience when learning a new language. Often it would be far easier to give up than to carry on. But it’s our job as educators to help our students realise that the struggle has bounteous rewards.
Over the past 10 years, I too have struggled with the challenges of learning how to run an award-winning startup. There were times when it seemed easier to give up than to carry on. (Don’t mention the dark day when an entire month’s worth of authentic language filming was stolen from my hotel room in Malaga, along with my only pair of shoes!) Yet with support from my co-Founder and team and especially the kind words of our many clients and students, we continue to grow.
Thank you all for helping us reach our 10th year in better shape than ever. We have a veritable cornucopia of treats in store for you in 2022 to celebrate our first decade, starting with a special 10 weeks extended trial access for schools who want to find out more about our platform! Follow us on the usual channels and watch this space to find out more.
With all best wishes,
George Van den Bergh
CEO and Founder of thisislanguage.com