Interview with

Alex Souza

Name: Alex de Souza
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live: Sao Paulo - BRA
Languages: Portuguese (nat), English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian, Esperanto, Catalan and Dutch.

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

I  started learning foreign languages over thirty years ago.  Unfortunately, it was quite frustrating because I didn’t know how to  learn them and that methodology was not for me. I do believe there are  plenty of efficient ways to achieve fluency in a language. However, many  people don’t even know which ones are good for them. It takes time to  learn how to master a language. When someone gets the best way, language  learning starts to be pleasant.

Seven  years later, I felt terrible about speaking just one language. It was  time to stop postponing my goals. Although, I did not know the best way  to do it, I decided to insist and be more patient. The key was I started  to do it on my own and by trying several methodologies, I found out  which ones were more effective. I started to do something more  motivating, though. Why should I only focus on one foreign language?

As  I did not have its answer, Spanish was my choice. Actually, I learned  how to communicate in the language very fast as it is a language very  similar to my native one. However, I kept on both foreign languages  (English and Spanish) for three more months. Then, I felt confident to  start learning a fourth language.

Another  romance language was chosen: Italian. Although, there are languages  spoken by more people, there were more reasons to analyse such as how  easy it is and what kind of other advantages I could take. And learning  it could have been a nice bridge to my fifth language.

French  was my next target. And I am quite sure it was easier to learn due to  the fact I had chosen Italian before. As both languages are quite  similar, I could have mastered both faster. Today, all these languages  are in a satisfying level and I focus on practicing rather than studying  them regularly. Sometimes, I take a look at something about their  grammar, for instance.

I  achieved a communicational level in four languages and it took me less  than two years. Then, I made a big mistake: I picked five languages to  learn at once. I could have barely learnt one. Afterwards, I made a  bigger mistake: quit learning them as I thought it was not for me. I did  not feel good to know I could learn just easier languages.

Many  years have elapsed and it seemed nothing would make me a real polyglot.  This reality took place again after meeting my best friend in language  learning: the internet. And lately it has been even more useful. I have  seen lots of options that make us learn faster and better. Surely, it is  quite motivating.

I  started reviewing the languages I already knew and focusing on German.  Its vocabulary may be hard to learn, although its pronunciation is quite  easy. And it took me over two years to be in a communicational level.  And it is a language I still study today although I can practice it much  more often.

Then,  it was time to begin my seventh language studies. And it does not  belong to the same families of the others I could speak. Apart from  that, I wanted to pick one different alphabet. So, I opted for Russian.  And this language opened my eyes for a new world as well. I see Russian  people differently from how I did before starting communicating in their  language.

Esperanto  was on my next target. I found it is really interesting as we can  understand more structures and here where one can better speak it by  mastering its grammar as it is the easiest language worldwide.

My  ninth language was a mix of cultural and strategic choices. Catalan has  helped me to master my French. Many people think it is a waste of time  to learn it as everyone can speak Spanish in Catalonia. Indeed, but  languages are not only for communicational purposes. We only achieve  people’s heart if we speak Catalan. It took me a long time to realise  it.

My  tenth option was also decided based on more than one criterion. I  thought my German needed more improvement and learning a new language  could be helpful as it was for my French. Apart from that, there is a  country where people are really nice and sociable: the Netherlands. So,  Dutch was the perfect step. And there are many similarities German.

I  have learnt with my own mistakes. Today, I can learn a new language  more efficiently than when I started it. We are always getting in touch  with something new and this is really motivating. Now, I learn three  languages. Nonetheless, I prioritise just one.

Technology  has been a great ally for language learning. We have enough resources  to do everything we can do in person with a private teacher. I have  realised there are more people who are open for it and mentoring is a  nice option. After being a language teacher for years, I focus on  helping learners to discover their best way to master a language. And  now, there are no excuses to avoid it. It is time for more polyglots to  show up!


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

It  depends on the time. Right now, it’s Dutch. As I can communicate in the  language, I often explore sources on the internet and look for language  exchange.


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

I’m  currently learning Arabic, Japanese and Ukrainian. As soon as I master  my Arabic and Japanese, I want to learn Farsi and Chinese.


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

It’s Dutch. Many people won’t believe me, but when I listen to native speakers, it’s like an invite for dancing.


5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

Finding out we can achieve a native speaker’s heart by doing our best to speak their language.


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 may be true but there will still be many languages to be learnt.


7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Never  stop learning. Talk to other polyglots, try to understand their mind  and no matter how you learn, do it for fun. If you want to read a book,  pick a subject you really like. Otherwise, you won’t feel pleased with  your results.

Technology  has been a great ally for language learning. We have enough resources  to do everything we can do in person with a private teacher. I have  realised there are more people who are open for it and mentoring is a  nice option. After being a language teacher for years, I focus on  helping learners to discover their best way to master a language. And  now, there are no excuses to avoid it. It is time for more polyglots to  show up!

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon