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LARRY LAMB ON LEARNING GERMAN

British actor Larry Lamb tells us about his connection to Germany!

Lucy Farrant (LF) grabbed a few minutes with Larry Lamb (LL), best known for his roles in Eastenders and Gavin & Stacey, at the ALL Language World conference in Manchester in March 2012 to find out about his connection to Germany and his thoughts on learning German.

LF: We're here at the ALL conference and it would be great if you could tell us some more about your connection to Germany.

LL: Well, you see, the thing is with me that German and Germany proved to be a turning point in my life. I did French at school and once you have learned how to communicate in another language, it gives you a sense of having something that's just that little bit special, so it encouraged me to think about learning another language.

I was working for a company that had a business in Germany, so I decided to go to the Goethe-Institut and do a German course. Back then there were massive American military bases in Germany and I went to work out there, lived with a German family, and learned to speak German with them. Whilst I was there, I started to do amateur theatre on the American bases and started to become an actor in Germany, which would never ever have happened if I'd not learned German!

LF: So really, it's thanks to learning German that you became an actor!

LL: Absolutely! It's as arbitrary and as weird as that. These opportunities present themselves and you're able to handle them because you've opened yourself up to something different in the world - and that's all it is. It's a case of understanding that the UK is an important and wonderful place but it is not the centre of the universe. There is a great big world out there - you need to go out there and try and become a part of that world community and not get stuck in the mud!

LF: So learning another language has opened up another world for you?

LL: Absolutely, learning another language encourages you to become another person really, it gives another side and another character to you - and the more you get to know the people of the country whose language you're speaking, the more you understand the differences between you and the similarities. You can't understand that until you've experienced it and learned the language.

LF: What would you say to young people out there who may be thinking of learning German or may be learning German at the moment?

LL: I would say don't just stop at thinking about it: I would make the effort to do it! Don't deal with it as if it's some sort of difficult thing, or something where you can't yet see the value in it. It takes a little effort but if you work hard at it, you start to speak the language before you even realise what it is you're saying and that's what you've got to do. For example, I learned songs and poems in another language way ahead of my level of learning - you do have to work at it but the joy of being able to communicate with people in another language is one of the big plus points in my life!

LF: That's great! Thanks so much for your time today and for speaking with us!

LL: Not at all, it's an absolute pleasure

LF: We hope you can inspire more young people to learn - or keep learning - German!

LL: Well, if I can inspire just one, it's just such a rewarding thing!