The International Association
Name: Asia Polo
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live?: Italy
Languages: Italian, English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I was only 6 years old when my passion for languages began. My mother would take me to the beach on the Adriatic coast, where a lot of German and Austrian tourists often spend their holidays during summertime. One day I met a German-speaking child that started talking to me, just like that. It was frustrating and magical at the same time. That’s exactly when I realised ‘my tiny Italian world’ was just one of the infinite worlds that were waiting for me out there. I decided it was unacceptable not to understand these ‘other worlds’, so I started learning English and German at elementary school, then Spanish at high school, and then French and Dutch at university. As for Brazilian Portuguese, I’m a self-learner – my family has some friends living in the state of São Paulo, so I got the chance to spend there a lot of time during summer holidays.
Ótimo, não é? (Great, isn’t it?)
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I had more time to improve my Brazilian Portuguese. Just before the pandemic broke out, I was about to plan a trip back to my beloved Brazil, but then I got stuck in my country. Anyway, I’m still hopeful for next year!
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I’d love to learn Russian. Actually, I had already started to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, but I must admit it’s quite tricky as a self-learner. I would definitely need a teacher, but my full-time job prevents me from taking a Russian course right now. But who knows, maybe in the future!
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
To me, it’s French. It just seduces your ears with its guttural ‘R’.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Speaking several languages allows me to talk to locals in a much more spontaneous way, so that I can explore a country more deeply.
Why would you need that? Well, because if you only scratch the surface of a place, then all places will look the same to you – soulless.
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?
Unfortunately, some languages are ‘more powerful’ than other ones, so I guess this will eventually become a reality. Anyway, I don’t think it will happen in only 100 years. It’s up to us, too. Learning languages also means protecting them from extinction, so we should all learn a rare one!
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Be brave. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because everybody does. Practice makes (almost) perfect!