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Interview with

Anna Lobo de Carvalho

Name: Anna Lobo de Carvalho
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: Brazil
Languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Esperanto, French, German, Swedish, Persian and LIBRAS.

1. How is your story? How did you get into all these languages?

As far as I know myself, since my childhood, I always had a lot of stimulation in languages by music - Beatles and Led Zeppelin at the time, good taste by the way. I was enchanted by the possibility of communicating with others, in another language that wasn't Portuguese. So, during the ICQ time, I always searched for people around the world to know their culture, music, daily life and more - but mostly in English. When I was 8 years old, I began Spanish classes at my school, and fell in love too. And Spanish music was a big hype at the time like Rick Martin, Shakira and others. Well, I could say that the shift key was Esperanto. Learning this language in 2007, opened for me a whole new world. In three months I achieved a nice level in the language, and I could go to events, make new friends and read books that I couldn’t in another way. So, do you remember that feeling of happiness communicating with other people in another language, knowing another culture, another way of thinking, and books and music? Yeah, that expanded miles and miles away. I felt even more like a world citizen. And speaking a neutral language that’s engaged to be a bridge between people and facilitate our communication, and that supports those endangered languages around the world, is quite magical. And then came other languages. Maybe it could be the Esperanto’s propaedeutic effect, maybe not. But the thing is that I learned French with ease, mostly by living in France for three months - that is, hearing it all the time, reading and living it. Sometimes I wanted to simply shut down the French. But it was worth it. And then came German, Swedish, Persian and LIBRAS. I was always asking what could be fun to do in order to learn a language - Hearing music, translating its lyrics, hearing podcasts, studying grammar, going to polyglot meetings or just chatting.


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

For sure German, Swedish, Persian and LIBRAS. I hope soon I’ll have all those languages at the same level, and hopefully then I’ll be learning other languages.


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

I would like to learn Korean, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and Toki Pona. But also I would say that every language is worth learning, and every language that dies, is a whole world and culture that dies too, and it is really a shame.


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

Well, I think it’s Spanish.


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

Looking at all my experiences with languages, I would say that there are many pleasures from speaking those languages. But if I have to choose one it would be - Talking to people from other countries in their language, and sometimes receiving compliments about how I speak this language.


6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in a 100 years, do you think that is true?

I really don’t know. But I hope that we can make an effort in language preservation. I love how colourful the world is regarding languages. All the different grammar, ways to express ourselves, all those beautiful letters and ideograms… It’s awesome. And, also I would like one language in which we could communicate worldwide with more ease and equality, and understand each other - I mean someone in a small city in a poor country could learn it and speak it with anyone without problem. As we say among esperantists - each people and culture with their language, Esperanto for all.


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

If you are interested in this crazy way of learning languages - just go for it! You can do this! Try to be clear about why you choose this, and the joy in the process. Because, sometimes you just want to go away and run. But if you have it clear for you and how you enjoy yourself and see your progress even if it is little, like ‘wow! I hear it and I can understand most of it!’ just grab this feeling and go on. See what works for you to do, no matter what - explore all possibilities - maybe it could be a movie, series, music, podcast, Duolingo, grammar book, chat, cards, notebook for each language, etc. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, everyone does it in the learning process even if it is learning a mother language for example - just think about a baby learning a language and you’ll see it! Don’t judge yourself too much, we mostly don’t recognize what we have achieved and our progress and how good we are, because the bad part always takes the spotlight. And let’s be honest, learning a language is not the easiest thing to do - like, if you see someone from another country speaking your mother language, it is always with perfect grammar and a perfect accent? Sure it’s not, so why do you want this perfection? Even in our mother language this would sound strange and pedantic. And last but not least, don’t forget to have fun!