Name: Mahya Mirsadeghi
Nationality or Ethnicity: Iranian
Where do you live?: Iran
Languages: Persian (native), Arabic, English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Turkish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese
1) What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
When I was 10, I started learning English, Arabic, and French because my parents believed that apart from my native tongue and English I should know Arabic (the language of my religion) and French (one of the most important languages in the world). To be honest I was not a big fan of language learning and I did not plan on learning 10 languages. But as I grow up I realized that thanks to my French language skills I can understand many words in Spanish, and since it was an easy language for me to learn, I decided to give it a try. So at the age of 15, I decided to learn Spanish.
Later on, one of my friends told me that if I learn Chinese and Russian I can be fluent in the 6 languages of the UN and I will be able to talk to pretty much everyone on the planet earth, the idea was mind-blowing. So as I was choosing what to study for my bachelor’s degree I decided to study either Russian or Chinese, I decided to go with Chinese and self-study Russian. At that time my roommate was Italian, listening to her speaking Italian on the phone made me fall in love with this language and since it was a romance language it was easy for me to learn.
After graduation, I moved to turkey with my family and I had to learn Turkish to be able to work and study, later on, my little sister who happens to be a successful polyglot started to learn Portuguese and she told me a lot about how easy it is and how similar it is to Spanish. So without hesitation, I started learning this language.
Long story short I think language learning is addictive once you learn one you want to learn more and more so that is why I went from learning 4 to 10 in only 7 years!
2) Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
French because in both China and Turkey I could not find a French-speaking community to hang out with and practice my French speaking.
3) What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I think 10 languages is enough! I rather know only 10 languages at a B2 or C1 level than 15 languages at an A2 or B1 level. But I wish I could learn Japanese, Malay, Korean, Indian, and Urdu these are my absolute favourite languages.
4) So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Chinese. It makes one seem smart and special.
5) What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
You know when you meet someone for the first time and you ask what their nationality is and right after they answer you switch from English to their mother language?
I live for those moments! Seeing them surprised makes my day!
6) Some people say the world is just going to have a few languages left in 100 years, do you think this is true?
Yes, it is. Most languages, though, die out gradually as successive generations of speakers become bilingual and then begin to lose proficiency in their traditional languages. This often happens when speakers seek to learn a more-prestigious language to gain social and economic advantages or to avoid discrimination.
7) What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
· Choose your languages wisely don’t go with what is trending instated go for what helps you improve in your career or studies.
· Never compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own language-learning journey. If a language learning method works for someone it can’t necessarily work for you.
· Remember consistency and persistence is the key. So once you start learning a new language you have to be patient and study it regularly, fluency does not happen over a night.