Name: Daniela Szep
Nationality or Ethnicity: Ukrainian
Where do you live?: Hungary
Languages: Russian, Hungarian, Slovak, English, Ukrainian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Dutch
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Until the age of five I was monolingual. I learned how to speak my first two foreign languages at the age of six, when I started elementary school in Slovakia. I've mastered Slovak and Hungarian in less than two years. English and German were the languages I had to learn in middle school. I wasn't really interested in languages back then though. When I was 13 my family moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina. There I've learned Serbo-Croatian and started learning Italian. A thing that has completely changed my perspective on language learning. Learning Italian was different. I started learning it because I wanted to learn it. Before that, I was learning languages mostly because I had to learn them for school or because I lived in a country where that language was spoken. Starting learning Italian on the other hand, was my own initiative and I've discovered that learning languages can be actually fun and enjoyable! I've tried many methods and finally, I've created my own one. From that point on, I've never stopped learning languages. After Italian, I've learned more than ten languages. (Now I speak more than fifteen languages and I want to learn even more!) Some say it's a talent - I say it's a passion.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I could dedicate more time to each and every of my languages. All the languages are equally important, but if I'd have to give one concrete example I'd say the ones I've started learning recently in order to improve them.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
For now, I'm satisfied with the languages I know and started to learn. But in the future I would like to learn more rare and challenging languages.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Depends on your previous experiences, I believe the language of love, is the language you've experienced love in.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Speaking many languages gives you a lot of new opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise. It completely changes the way you perceive the world. The way you see a determined country, its people, their culture… It gives you a greater understanding of the world as a whole. It erases the borders, the barriers in the communication. You become open-minded and truly a citizen of the world.
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?
I think it's in our hands. It may happen due to the globalization, but we can't deny the importance of at least trying to do something in order to prevent that.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
The only advice I want to give you is… just start, take the first step to your goals. And don't stop, don't stop until you're proud of what you've achieved. You can achieve anything you decide you want to achieve. No matter how hard it can get, how demotivated you might feel at times, just don't stop. When you want to quit, always remember why you started. Learning languages is always a work in progress. Don't compare yourself with others, compare yourself only with yourself. As I say, it always seems impossible until it's done!