Name: Bruno Diego de Oliveira Clemente
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: Campinas- SP
Languages: Brazilian Portuguese (native speaker), English, French, Spanish (fluent), German, Italian (C1), Esperanto, Swedish, Dutch (B1) and a little bit of Romanian and Mandarin.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I was born and raised in Pirituba- São Paulo- Brazil. I had a very calm and simple childhood. Since I have always been into music, one day I decided to learn English by myself so that I could be able to understand my favorite groups and singers. I started this process at the age of 16, listening and trying to understand, with the help from dictionaries and hours of writing exercises, what my favorite artists were singing. By the age of 18, I was already able to understand plenty of things, but I had no one to practice with. Nevertheless, it encouraged me to keep on studying. In 2004 I moved to the countryside (Hortolândia-SP), where I followed my studies, later on succeeding in a public university (USP). After some years though, I decided to keep track of my studies myself. It was when I got interested in French and German, but not having studied these languages deeply yet. Later on, I started teaching English in a language school in my neighborhood (Jd. Amanda-Hortolândia). I got so fascinated by the learning process that I decided to help my students to better understand it. By doing so, I was able to grasp a variety of steps involved in this process, growing my interest strongly on how languages can attach people. Despite that, my French and German were still rusty, which got me into studying those languages again, this time around on a daily basis. After a while, I got to be satisfactorily conversant in those languages, which grew my interest in learning other ones, such as Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, and Mandarin. In 2019 I decided to get into the university again, in a sense to study how the language environment could work theoretically and also to better understand the scope of my own work as a language teacher. It was when I got approval in a public university again (Unicamp). The major I chose was Linguistics, and I couldn’t be happier studying it.
2. Which language do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
Dutch and Chinese, definitely. One of the most impacting experiences I’ve ever had as a teacher was helping a Chinese student to socialize and take part in the learning environment where she was set in. She could speak neither any word of Portuguese nor English, and it was her first month in Brazil. When she realized I could speak a little bit of Mandarin, she felt more confident to develop her skills in English! It was amazing! Dutch, on the other hand, was the language my great-grandfather spoke. I have always wanted to understand my roots and I have always been fascinated by the past, not to mention that Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists ever.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I wish to be able to learn one indigenous language from my country, such as Nhengatu, for example. Ancient Tupi is also a coming project I intend to take on. I’d like to add to my repertoire Ancient and Modern Greek, as well as Russian and Norwegian.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I truly find Brazilian Portuguese the sexiest language ever! But I must confess that Italian, French, and Romanian have their own charm as well.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Certainly being in contact with friends from all over the globe. One of the most important things for me is to inspire my students and also other people to learn new languages. Making them realize that it’s achievable is essential in my life, not only as a professional but as a person indeed.
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?
It turns out to be sadly true, but there’s something we can do to prevent this from happening. As a linguist, I see how important the efforts in preserving languages are. Endangered languages mean also cultures that are disappearing. Without our efforts to recognize the variety of multiple peoples as well as their importance in our society nowadays makes this mission virtually impossible, that’s why not taking them for granted is the only way out.
7. Where can we hear you using your languages - putting them into action?
I’ve created a Youtube channel (Polyglot Friends) with a bunch of enthusiastic friends of mine. There we share some tips on how languages can be learned and other curiosities related to the language world.
8. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Study every single day. Turn the learning process into a habit of yours. Find cool people to talk to, gather your friends, and have a real good time. Languages are communication tools and they require a lot of study and practice indeed but never forget to enjoy the journey. It has to be pleasant!