Name: Manuel Rivera
Nationality or Ethnicity: Colombian / Canadian
Where do you live?: Berlin, Germany
Languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, Russian and German.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I migrated to Canada when I was young, so I learnt English and French at an early age. Then at school, I was known to be the gifted polyglot, as I took extra classes in other languages than the ones which were taught. So, every new language somehow helped me learn the next one. I also became a translator and a traveller, both of which enabled me to learn even more.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I had more time to improve my Russian and Hungarian. Especially the grammar, I love both of these languages, as well as their families.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Likewise, I would like to learn more about some languages related to the ones I already speak i.e., Romanian, Catalan, or even Dutch. Last year for example I went to Serbia and Croatia and by the end of this trip, I noticed I understood and could say the basics, so I guess it would not take me so long. However, I would also like to learn Greek and Arabic at some point, I can already read them, so I am definitely looking forward to taking them to the next step.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Portuguese, Brazilian, of course.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
All the people I can interact with, as well as all the sources and content I have available.
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?
Most definitely, many languages now have fewer than a hundred speakers and with globalization, the number of languages is decreasing rapidly. The silver lining is that we should consider ourselves lucky if we are still around in 100 years.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Keep on, my advice is to make your method and go beyond the grammar and vocabulary you learn at school. I, personally, learnt a lot by travelling, watching TV, and recently by listening to the radio in different languages while working from home. I can guarantee that you will find more work opportunities and meet lots of very interesting people.