It’s hard to say whether French teacher Monique Schwarzen is more beloved or more respected by the faculty and students at our Brig campus – probably both in equal measure. But one thing is for sure, after having worked at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland for more than 20 years, since May of 1999, Monique knows the school’s history and rapid progress over the years better than anyone else, because she’s made significant contributions to both.
I have lived my life in the hospitality world, as my parents managed a restaurant and hotel, so I grew up working in service in the restaurant and reception in the hotel, and my brother is a chef. When my father became ill, I worked both the front and back offices of our family hotel. I so enjoyed my nice multilingual childhood here in Switzerland with exposure to people of many nationalities.
Academically, I studied French and German linguistics and literature. Professionally, I’ve always taught languages. While I enjoy teaching French here, I also taught German previously in other schools.
I enjoy contact with people and being able to use my passion for languages. Languages open up the world – life is more interesting when you can travel around and meet new people. When I went to Japan, I learned the basics of Japanese, which helped with travels and my understanding of the culture there.
Being educated in a multicultural milieu makes you a much more open person. You then have an easier time avoiding conflicts by understanding how to skirt sensitive topics like politics. If you have this background and understanding of cultures, you learn to see people for who they are as individuals, not judge them based on their race or nationality.
Today, jobs are more demanding, with more critical requirements and more specificity in today’s job descriptions and educational requirements.
In general, students are equally motivated to learn languages, but today we have more possibilities in teaching styles and we have technology to help deliver the material.
I believe that technology helps all students, each of whom has a different learning style, because it offers students multiple options for approaching homework and studying outside of class.
One possible drawback is that today’s students have more access to online information and google the answers before they ask the teacher – as a result, they may not go deeply enough into their learning.
I tell them to take each opportunity and always show their best, which will open up even more opportunities. The hospitality industry gives the chance to work in different fields, as they will have the skills to work in any multicultural setting with people of different socio-economic levels. Having this ‘hospitality open-mindedness’ helps to open doors.
I also tell them that every language they can pick up is an asset – even just the basics make local people very happy because they are trying. Employers and fellow employees will see their potential and allow them to move up.
Finally, and most importantly: they must like their job in order to be successful!