The International Association
Name: Jonathan Alan Moore
Nationality or Ethnicity: British
Where do you live?: Poland
Languages: Polish German, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Ukrainian, French
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I started learning German at middle school when I was ten. At the age of 14, I started learning French at high school. At fifteen, I became interested in the Soviet Union. This was the time of perestroika and glasnost, so it looked as though the USSR would soon become the West’s new main trading partner. This prompted me to start teaching myself Russian using coursebooks and cassettes. Having passed my German and French A levels, I went on to attain a First-Class Honours Degree in German and Russian at the University of London (Queen Mary College). I taught myself Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch during my time at university and subsequently found a job in technical support/ customer service with a company in Scotland that dealt with Germany, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries. By conversing with my Finnish colleagues at work, I began to improve my Finnish too. After this, I found a job as an English teacher in Poland, so Polish was the natural choice for my next language. Again, I taught myself. Finally, in view of the influx of Ukrainians into Poland, I chose to start teaching myself Ukrainian, off the back of Polish and Russian.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
All of them, but perhaps particularly the ones I hardly ever use these days, which are Dutch, the Scandinavian languages.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Perhaps Spanish, because the demand for it is so enormous.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Well, if I have to choose, I would say French.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Well, I suppose it’s the feeling of satisfaction when I find myself communicating effectively in them.
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 don’t think so. Despite the popularity of a relatively small number of languages (including English, Spanish and French), most nations seem too proud of their national identity and culture to let their mother tongues become a thing of the past.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Well, far be it from me to advise people when I’m unaware of their circumstances. However, perhaps I would suggest thinking about which languages are going to be most useful to them. Certainly, if someone is interested in languages, that’s half the battle won.