The International Association
Name: Estela Sandoval Monreal
Where do you live? Mexico
Languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese.
Learning Polish and Dutch.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
When I was about 14 years old, my grandfather encouraged me to learn English. His English was amazing and he was mostly self-taught. I was not quite sure about learning a new language at first, as I imagined it would be difficult to learn, but my grandfather’s motivation and conviction to learn convinced me. My grandfather helped me get started learning English basics, then I continued studying on my own. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but then the more I understood, the more I wanted to continue deepening my knowledge of the English language. I would frequently practice English for as many as six hours a day, and I pursued every resource possible to improve and enhance my understanding of English.
Once I had reached the level of English reading, writing and comprehension I set for myself, I knew I wanted to continue my pursuit for learning new languages; I had discovered my passion for languages!
I started studying French next, and I found French enjoyable and so fun. I studied French for five years. Once comfortable with French, I decided I wanted to learn yet another language, and decided to pursue Portuguese. After mastering Portuguese, I moved on to immersing myself in learning Italian, then embraced learning Japanese. I did study Polish intermittently; however, I put Polish on hold when I was studying Portuguese. Languages are truly my passion. I have very much enjoyed the learning process of each one, and I experience such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment each time I am learning a new language.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I try to practice all my languages as often as possible. However, I would love to have the opportunity and time to practice both Japanese and Polish more frequently.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I would love to learn to speak Polish more fluently. I would also like to learn Dutch, as I love the sound of the language. I am also in the process of learning sign language.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I personally consider there is a sexy side to each language. Nevertheless, the two languages I consider to be “sexy,” are French and English. I love how French words and phrases sound, and there is something about the English language I find very sexy as well.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The greatest pleasure I get from speaking a variety of different languages is that it has enabled me to be able to communicate with people from all over the world which, at the same time, enables me to venture into and understand other cultures and learn about other countries. Understanding other cultures and people is something I really like. I also enjoy the fact that learning languages has helped me be more extroverted and less shy.
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 honestly don't think there will only be a few languages remaining. However, I believe there will be fewer languages. In my opinion, there will be hundreds left instead of thousands as we have now (there are currently about 7,000 active languages). Minority languages, in my opinion, will be the ones that will die out; specifically, those languages that are not being passed on from generation to generation. We have the example of the “click” languages for instance, which are believed to have been the first languages of the world. I find that the fact that those languages will most likely die out is quite sad, given the fact that these languages are so interesting, fascinating, and hold much cultural and historic value. In contrast, languages that are a part of, or represent a regional or national identity with lots of people, will be the ones to survive. I also consider that English will continue to be the world’s lingua franca over any other language. Studied by millions around the world and present everywhere, my prediction and opinion is that English will continue to be as important as or potentially more important than it is already nowadays.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
My message for people of any age interested in studying and learning other languages is simple: go for it! Learning, understanding and speaking another language is a wonderful experience everyone should have. Never think you cannot do it. Go easy on yourself and allow yourself to find the right method for you. Don't be afraid to make mistakes; be aware that the start might be complex or frustrating but it's something completely normal (it’s something new! Like riding a bike – you may need training wheels to start!) Make time for your target language by creating a schedule that works for you, where you can dedicate time to study and let it become a habit.
Practice as much as you can using any resources you can. The possibilities nowadays are endless. Also, we know speaking is the most important aspect of mastering a language so, try to speak as much as possible in order to achieve fluency. Practice is key! Finally, be persistent and dedicated, you will be speaking before you know it. I promise you, the joy from having reached your goal will be amazing!