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Interview with

Desiderio Espinosa

Name: Desiderio Espinosa Martínez
Nationality or Ethnicity: Spanish
Where do you live?: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Languages: Spanish (C2), Catalan (C2), English (C1-C2), Dutch (B2), French (B1-B2), Italian (B1), Russian (A1-A2).

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

- I was born in the region of Costa Brava, in Catalonia, Spain, and that’s the reason my native languages are Spanish and Catalan. My mother tongue was Spanish, but I was learning Catalan when I was 3 years old in the school and I was also speaking Catalan with some of my teachers and some of my friends. English was a compulsory subject in the school, so I was also learning English when I was a child. Unfortunately, English in Spain is quite basic, so until I was not like 18 years old, I was not fluent in English. When I was 18 years old, I decided to learn English in England and I went for some weeks to take an intensive course, it was a really nice experience and my English improved a lot. Furthermore, I went to Canada for an internship while I was studying in the university and that also helped me to improve my level of English. Nowadays, I use English every day because it’s the language that I use to communicate with my partner.

Dutch is also an important language in my life, when I moved here, to the Netherlands, I decided that I wanted to learn the language, it took me some time to learn it but step by step I learned it and last year I did the official exam of Dutch (NT2), the level B2, and I passed it. I use the language to communicate with the family of my partner and I also teach Spanish in Dutch, so I have to use constantly the language with my students. French and Italian are languages that I love. When I was in the high school, I took some courses to learn French, our teacher was a great teacher and the fact that my grandfather was born in Lyon (France) made me extra motivated to keep learning the language. I took some courses on Italki and this year I want to get the official diploma DELF or DALF, but I am not sure when I am going to do it. I also learned Italian a few years ago, just because I was curious about the language and because I love Italy. The language is so similar to Spanish and Catalan that was not difficult for me to reach an intermediate level. Finally, I was learning Russian a couple of years ago because I wanted to do the route of the Transiberian express, and I did it. It was so important to communicate somehow in Russian that I was learning at least the basics of the language. I really like the language and I want to improve it, I know that is a challenging language, but I am improving every day and hopefully next year I will take the TORFL (official language test in Russian) and I hope to reach the B1 level.


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

- I want to improve French, Italian and Russian. I would like to have more time to practice Russian because requires time and effort and sometimes I am so busy that I don’t have time to practice the language.


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

- I would like to learn German and Chinese. In fact, I was learning Chinese before, but I completely forgot everything. One day I want to learn Chinese in a better way. I also would like to learn German because I am curious about the language and I already know Dutch, and German and Dutch are similar languages.


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

- The sexiest language for me is French, oh la la! Sounds so sexy for me!


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

- I am able to know many ways to live, cultures and also gives me more opportunities to know more people and to have a lot of experiences with those languages.


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?

- Well, I don’t think so. There are so many languages nowadays that it is quite difficult that so many languages disappear.


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

- My message is just do it, no matter if you are younger or older. Learning a language is a great habit for your brain and it is also a way to know more about our world, ways to think, to communicate. You can study multiple languages, but my advice is don’t study 20 languages at the same time, better to be focused on one, two languages and learn them correctly than to learn 20 and only know a few words.