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Interview with

Ayhan Kaplan

Name: Ayhan Kaplan
Nationality or Ethnicity: Turkish/ Kurdish
Where do you live?: France
Languages: Turkish, Kurdish (native), French, English (fluent), Dutch, Spanish (intermediate), Persian, Arabic, Russian, Italian (basic).

Member since:


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

My passion for languages comes from my love for reading. I have always been a bookworm. I have read a lot of books translated from different languages. When I liked a translated book, I wanted to read it one day in its original language. Beside that I made a resolution in my 20s: By my 40 I should be able to speak 10 languages and at least five of them would be United Nations official languages.

I grew up bilingual. Then I learnt English at school. When I was student at university I studied Persian, Arabic and French. From 2011 to 2016, I lived in Brussels there I learnt Dutch. Nowadays, I’m studying Russian.

I speak these languages at varying levels. My strongest language is French then comes English. My level in Dutch is B2. I’m at intermediate level in Spanish. There is a huge gap between my speaking skill and comprehension in Persian and Italian. I understand pretty much what I watch or listen to, but when it comes to speaking, I don’t speak fluently. In Arabic, I have very basic and passive knowledge, I have to brush up on my Arabic soon.

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

Russian. Since my teenage years, I have always wanted to study Russian, but I couldn’t have enough time to study and practice it.

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

If I reach advanced level in Russian, I will start to learn another Slavic language. Probably Bulgarian or Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian. I want to learn Romanian too.

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

Persian. I adore it.

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

You know the famous quote of Nelson Mandela. If you talk to a man in its native language, it goes to his heart. The idea that my words go to my interlocutor’s heart is great pleasure for me.

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?

No, I don’t think so. Contrarily we are witnessing a revival of minority languages, thanks to mainly internet and new technologies.

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

Studying multiple languages is as challenging as rewarding. There are ups and downs. Don’t fear! Be prepared to difficulties! Don’t lose your motivation! Be consistent and don’t let yourself to be discouraged!

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