Name: Ana Jimena Aguilar Castro
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican
Where do you live? Vienna
Languages: Spanish (Mother language),
English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese (Advanced Level)
Russian (Intermediate Level)
Chinese, Dutch (Conversational level)
Japanese, Swedish, Arabic, Greek (Basic level)
1. What is your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I started my language learning adventure at a very young age. English was the first one I studied and enjoyed it very much. When I started speaking it, I discovered how much it could help me. I was able to understand movies, songs and socialize with many people and it was totally awesome for me.
At the age of 13, I went to Switzerland for one year and started learning French. I started meeting new people, reading books, listening to songs and learning about Swiss culture. I realized how much learning a language could be of help and decided to continue traveling to other cities and learn about new cultures and costumes.
I moved to Florence for 6 months and it was my favourite experience of all. I fell in love with the culture, the people, the language and the art. I realized learning a language is not only about the grammar and rules, but it is more about the experience of it. Being in a restaurant and be able to interact with people, ask for something in a store, understand people in the street, discover writers and actors that speak that language. All of a sudden, many doors opened for me and I decided I wanted to continue this adventure with German.
Everyone told me that German was too difficult to learn but I decided to give it a try and moved to Berlin for the summer. There, I met plenty of friends from all nationalities, some of whom are my best friends now.
I studied law at University but I did not like it that much, so I decided not to work as a lawyer and started reflecting what I wanted to do in my life. Languages had to be included in that.
I started teaching French to a friend and spoke to him about my idea of opening a language school and he decided he wanted to invest in my project and be part of it. He then introduced me to another friend of his and we three started with the language school project.
It was a great experience from the beginning but a great defeat too. I experienced many difficulties, but at the end, it all went smoothly. The partners left and I continued with the school on my own.
In the school, I developed a method of teaching which consists in living the experience of the language. I hired some teachers and offered all languages to the public. When someone wanted to learn a new language, I took classes of that language and started learning it. That is how I learned Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, and started to be interested in other languages. Arabic, Greek followed the list.
I enjoyed running a lot so as decided to run the Rotterdam Marathon. I started to learn Dutch and totally loved it. Then I learned Swedish and I am very interested in Norwegian and Danish.
Japanese was the last language I learned but only the basics of it. It has been the most difficult language for me so far.
I can say I enjoy learning a language, teaching it and be able to transmit the joy of exploring new cultures and cities.
I will definitely continue this journey and will learn more languages, travel and meet new people from all cultures.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I could spend more time practising Japanese, Arabic and Greek.
3. What are some languages you would like to learn in the future?
I would love to learn more Slavic and Asian languages.
4. So let us be honest, what is the sexiest language?
The sexiest language for me is French.
5. What is the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
I get the joy of meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and having a lot of fun.
6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in a 100 years, do you think this is really true?
I do not think so, but maybe it may be true.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
I would tell them to not be afraid. Try to learn any language and always remember: if you are able to speak in your native language, you can speak any other language.