The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2019

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Interview with

Esteban Puschmann

Name: Esteban Puschmann
Nationality or Ethnicity: Chilean

Where do you live?: Mannheim, Germany
Languages: Spanish, English, German, Danish, Norwegian, Italian, Dutch and French

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Everything started when I was 14 years old and my cousin told me about his exchange to Germany. I became interested in learning German, which is the language of my ancestors, but I felt the need to improve my English first. At the age of 15 and after having put a considerable amount of time into improving my English, I decided to start learning German and moved to Germany as an exchange student with AFS at the age of 16, where I lived by a host family for approximately 8 months. During my exchange, I started learning French, which was offered as an elective course at the school.Back in Chile, I continued learning French and approved a test of the level A2 at the Alliance Francaise Concepcion. In 2016 I started studying at Universidad del Desarrollo(UDD) Business Administration I had a break from learning languages, until I started learning Danish in 2017. In 2017 I also took my first official English test, TOEFL, where I scored 99 points.In 2018 I made my first university exchange to Copenhagen, Denmark, in order to study at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), and I was living there for eight months from January until August. During this time, I passed the module or level 4, which corresponds to the level B1 (intermediate) at the language school IA Sprog. During the summer of 2018, I started learning Norwegian when I realized how similar it was to written Danish, and shortly after I started with Italian, motivated by the many opportunities to speak it that I had at my job as a tour guide in Copenhagen, since I was often sharing tours with Italian tour guides. Meanwhile, I was guiding in Spanish, English, and German, while talking with the bus drivers in Danish. My dream about learning many languages and actually using them had become true!Afterwards I made a second exchange to Germany for 1 year, and I started preparing for the C1 test in German, which I took in December of 2018 in Frankfurt.The last language that I started learning is Dutch, which I started learning 5 weeks ago. I chose Dutch because of its similarities with English and German, and until now I’m having a lot of fun learning it! Now I’m living in Germany, and on January the 7th I got the C1 Goethe Zertifikat in German. This motivated me a lot to keep learning languages and improving my level in the ones I already speak!

2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
French.

 

3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Portuguese and Swedish.

4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Italian!

 

5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
My greatest pleasure is to travel and to suddenly encounter people that speak those languages in all kind of settings and have interesting conversations with them. To speak with natives about their culture in their language is something unique, because for me, a language is the key to understand another culture. Also to watch a movie or read a book in the original language is a very pleasurable thing to do.

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 think that hundreds of languages are going to disappear, but that would still leave us with some thousands of languages, maybe 3000 or something like that. I believe that the languages that are really endangered are the ones spoken by natives people, but the ones officially recognized by states are going to survive some centuries at least.

7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Keep going, because if we learn other people’s languages we will be more open-minded, receptive and tolerant to other cultures, and that will contribute at the end to a more peaceful world, based on effective communication!Have fun while doing it, so that you can keep going and consider if your motivations are as good as to keep you going through a journey that sometimes might seem a bit long, but that will pay off in the long run! Moreover, if you want to learn multiple languages, is very advisable to study languages from the same language family. This is so because of the fact that you would have to invest much less time in learning Portuguese after learning Italian or in learning Dutch after learning German, because language families share not only vocabulary but also grammar structures and other linguistical features.