Name: Enrico Pizzarello
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live? Trieste, Italy
Languages: Italian, English, Modern Standard Arabic, Levantine Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I was born in 1992 in a small town called Trieste, which is located to the north-east side of Italy. It’s a small city surrounded by 3 countries, Slovenia (the closest), Croatia and Austria.
Since I was a little kid, I have always been very passionate about languages and different cultures because I grew up in a very multicultural environment. Despite all of that, the population here is very close-minded and not particularly keen on learning new languages.
One of the men that inspired me the most about learning new languages and being a world citizen is Sir Francis Burton, which was Trieste’s counsellors from 1872 to 1890. Imagine someone fluent in more than 30 languages who travelled all around the world but found in Trieste the city and place where he truly belonged. I feel so blessed of being born in a city with such rich history.
Despite living close to Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, I have never studied these languages in a very deep way, just a few words. I will probably learn them all in the future but back in the days my heart has always been towards the East rather than the West.
After learning English perfectly and spending 1 year abroad before starting university in 2014, I decided I wanted to study interpreting and translation. So I took French which I already knew back from school, Arabic and English.
Why Arabic you may ask. Since I was 7 years old, I have always been fascinated by Arabic calligraphy and when I was at the elementary school, and they introduced us Islam to teach us the importance of respect between different religions. Needless to say, Arabic culture and Islam got my attention from the very beginning.
Furthermore, I was looking for a real challenge in my life, I did not want to stick to just Latin/Germanic languages, I wanted to try a Semitic language. Best decision I could have ever taken.
Because Arabic is written from right to left, using a different alphabet, I really improved and developed both hemispheres of my brain. According to neuroscience studies Arabic readers, showed that the right hemisphere was not able to function independently in the reading assignments without using the resources of the left hemisphere. There are not many other tasks which require both hemisphere in order to grow, one of that is music and I had been playing the violin for 6 years when I was a kid which helped me a lot developing my language learning skills.
During my BA I also mastered Spanish which is one of my favorite languages because of the fantastic history behind the country and all the loan words coming from Arabic and Persian.
I took Persian as well when I was at my fourth year at the university. It is by far my favorite language. The sound, the rich vocabulary, the culture, the cadence, the pitch, are just marvelous. It is after all the language of the poets, along with Arabic.
In fact, my MA thesis was about the contributions of the Persian inside the Arabic culture during the 9-10th century, I realized how intertwined were and still are the two languages/cultures.
On the other during my BA thesis, I focused more on how to learn Arabic in the most effective way. Back in the days I was convinced that the Islamic approach/Arabic approach, that means for native speakers was the best way to learn the language. I changed my point of view during the years, but I still find value in that thesis and many ideas I shared.
The last language I decided to learn was Portuguese. It was merely just for fun and because part of my extended family lives in Rio, I wanted to get closer to that culture. Also, I wanted to read Malba Tahan books which are all written in Portuguese, and they talk about the East through myth, legends, and stories. I truly enjoyed the books so much and I really recommended them.
Now my focus has shifted towards a more holistic approach combined with spiritualism and managerial skills. Recently I decided to open my own business, which is all about inspiring teachers and students from all walks of life to get their learning / teaching skills to the next level. I always had the education I wanted but never the one I needed. 90% of my professors were terrible at communicating and explaining. That’s my force, my why I decided to change things because I want to offer my students the education, I have never had by combining language learning, yoga & coaching. Let me explain to you why I did it.
The quality of your life is the quality of your communication. How do you communicate better? By learning languages?
The quality of your life is the quality of your cells. How do you live better? Through movement, in this case, yoga.
The quality of your life is the quality of your emotions. How do you connect with your emotions? Mediation & Coaching
I wanted to share this because I know that at Hypia there may be teachers who are willing to share their insights and their experience about education. Languages are bridges between cultures, and we need to teach them to our students so that can become more curious, creative, problem solving, and introspective.
This is my story so far about my journey to learn languages. I want to master other 5 languages in the future so that I will never forget how hard it is at the beginning to learn a language and how to inspire future generations.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
Definitely Arabic and Persian. I used to spend way more time with it but now that I opened my business, I find it hard to cut some time for it but I bet that HYPIA will help me to find new momentum and get things done how I used to do it.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I want to improve my Persian and get really fluent. I want to learn Croatian, Urdu, Pashto, Sanskrit, German and Indonesian.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
In my opinion, is Persian, it’s the language of poetry after all and I find it extremely sexy.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
I always remind myself how hard it is to learn a new language, especially from a new family and with a different alphabet. It also allows me to develop my problem-solving skills, my communication skills, and my creativity.
6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in 100 years, do you think this is really true?
Despite having read this theory, I don’t think is true. There will be a more standardized form of communication, but people will never leave their true identity behind. The language is the strongest form of identity. Despite using English way more than Italian, I am proud of being Italian and speaking several languages. Difference is power, not a weakness. So, no, there will still be a lot of languages, but many will disappear.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Get curious, take massive actions, don’t overthink, and just do it. You will not regret it. It will open a whole new world in front of you a world with way more colours that the average person sees. Repetition is the mother of all skills but behind it, there is massive, constant, and passionate execution.