The International Association
Name: Aron Miranda Burgos
Nationality or Ethnicity: half Chilean half Brazilian
Where do you live?: Brazil
Languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Esperanto and Swedish.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I have been surrounded by languages and different cultures since I was a little kid. My bilingual and cultural childhood led me to see languages and foreign cultures in a different way. Being half Chilean not only gave me the opportunity to learn Spanish as my second native language but, also, enabled a broader view of the world. I can easily recall the first moment that I understood that my friends couldn’t understand what my grandmother and father were saying between them, it was a very confusing moment back when I was a little kid. Nevertheless, it was from that moment that I realized that different cultures and languages are pieces of society.
My father was a main character in my polyglot life, because he was really dedicated to teach me Spanish, the Chilean culture & history, in order to not lose our roots. In this sense, he also made my initiation into the general culture aspect of life: recommending classic books and movies. Therefore, it was a common thing between us, to watch historical movies about World War I and II, japanese movies and so on. This made my first contact with other languages, apart from Spanish, a reality. Then, I started to get used to watch movies with scenes in different languages, and even if I couldn’t understand a piece of German, French, Japanese, Chinese at that time (I was about 7 or so) I was intrigued with the rhythm, musicality and cultural aspects of what I was watching.
I remember that, at that time back in the 2000’s, language courses were considerably expensive in Brazil, not to mention the price for non common languages courses. Hence, some years later, I began to use the computer that I got from my birthday to search for videos in the languages that I would like to learn. Another fact that motivated me is that I made a friend during middle school who was taking English courses, so everyday after school I would go online, search for words and look for native speakers groups on skype to learn it and then practice with him. It ended up being a retroactive process. After getting the conversational level in English, I told myself “why not to try this method for other languages then?”. Thus, I started learning Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian and other languages this way. Consequently, my language learning method was pretty straightforward, to look for videos, books on the internet and then trying to practice with native speakers on skype. It was during this phase of my life that I discovered the most famous self-study methods: Pimsleur, Teach Yourself series, Assimil, the Colloquial series etc.
At the age of 15, my language learning method was fundamented, but it was only at the age of 17 that I discovered Stephen Krashen and other scientific fundamentals & linguistics that helped me to lapidate my learning method. I have lived for languages and made it a central part of my life. I have been connecting them with everything that I do in life: work, university, hobbies, etc. I have worked as a private language tutor since I was 17 and also as a multilingual tour guide & interpreter in Chile. Nowadays, I not only teach languages as a second revenue source, but also work in a global investment bank using some of the languages that I speak. I have also conducted presentations about language learning In high school & university for different types of publics and themes concerning this field. I am proud to say that languages and foreign cultures are prominently englobing my life as a whole.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
This is very difficult to say. Saying that I wish I could spend more time practicing every language that I know would be immature, so I believe I would go with Chinese and Japanese.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
After mastering Swedish, I really want to try some other not so common languages, such as Cantonese, modern Greek, Romanian and any Slavic language. Dutch and German are also included in my list.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Bossa Nova, Samba and Brazilian Popular Music leave no other choice than Brazilian Portuguese.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Creating new connections with people around the world and consuming their culture through the 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?
In some sense, there is evidence that some languages of minority groups are disappearing. On the other hand, I believe we possess technology and science knowledge to store and protect them all. As a consequence, the answer to this matter will be extremely dependent on the human response to it.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Learning different languages is for everyone. There are numerous benefits and fruits that come with it: professional, cultural, anthropological, psychological, neurological and emotional. Don’t be afraid of trying, if you become diligent and patient, there is only one possible outcome: language acquisition.