Interview with

Joseph Avila

Name: Joseph Louis Ávila
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican
Where do you live? : Chicago, United States
Languages: Native-Spanish & English. C2-French, Italian, & Portuguese. B2-Romanian, Catalan, & German. A2-Norwegian, Polish, Dutch, & Classical Latin. I also recently began studying Danish, Icelandic, and Russian.

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

I  was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and my native language is Spanish. I  grew up speaking Spanish until I moved to the United States when I was  four years old. I learned English by being immersed with native speakers  at a daycare center in Chicago, Illinois. I was bilingual until the age  of fifteen, when I began studying Italian and French in high school.  During my time in high school is when my passion for studying multiple  languages truly began. When I attended college, I decided to study  Portuguese, German, Polish, and Catalan. During college, I also began  studying Romanian, Classical Latin, and Dutch on my own. Last year, I  spent some time travelling throughout Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and  Denmark. These languages struck a cord with me and I instantly felt a  connection to their culture. So, I’m currently studying Norwegian and  I’m slowly learning Danish, Icelandic, Swedish, and even some Old Norse  along the way!

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

I  would definitely like to spend more time practicing German, Norwegian,  Polish, and Dutch! The last opportunity I had to speak Dutch was in  Belgium and I’m very excited to go back soon.

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

In the future, I’d really like to learn Greek and Japanese.

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

For  me, there’s absolutely no contest…it’s definitely French! Whenever I  hear a Parisian woman speak French I feel like I just got stuck by  lighting. haha

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

The greatest joy I get from speaking multiple languages is seeing someone smile when I speak to them in their native language.

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  hope not! I believe that having linguistic diversity enriches humanity  and it allows us to see the world from many different perspectives.

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

I  would tell them to never let others discourage them from following  their dreams. Keep working towards your goals, even if the road may seem  quite arduous. Many people told me that learning foreign languages was  useless and it was a waste of time. Despite this negativity, I kept  studying because I knew that one day I would reach my goals and I would  have the opportunity to use my languages. All of the hard work you put  into studying will pay off in the future and you’ll be using your skills  in multiple languages to find success!

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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