Name: Marta Melnyk
Where do you live: Switzerland, Kanton Zurich
Languages: Ukrainian (native), Russian and Polish (C2), English (C1), German (C1), French (B1).
Beginner in: Portuguese, Maori and Mandarin Chinese.
1. What's your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I come from Ukraine, so Ukrainian is my native language. I also speak Russian since my childhood, as I have been watching TV and reading books. I started learning English in preschool and actually never stopped, I would not say that I learn it now, but I use it on a daily basis and watch movies and series in English, so I am still on track. I fell in love with German when I was 17 and I was learning it for the exam to the university. It took me 10 months, but I aced my exams and got to two universities with the highest scores. I studied it at the university for 5 years and used it a lot at work. I have learned Polish, when I moved to Poland and I wanted to give speech in Polish. I was trying hard, and achieved great results. In no time, people could not recognize that I am from Ukraine. This was amazing! Speaking about French, our relationships were always complicated. I liked it as a kid, but then I learned it at school, I was forced to stop, I learned it at the university, but never used it afterwards, I learned it a bit at work and I decided that it is not my language and I will never learn it again. Unexpectedly, some time ago, I realised that French is not so bad. I changed my attitude and I am actively practicing it now.
During my whole life, it was a huge row of many languages that I learned till different levels. The thing is that I am addicted to the moment, when I start understanding the texts and the dialogs. It is really exciting for me. However, I get used to very quickly and I have to search for the new language to learn till the moment, I understand. It is a vicious circle, but I like it.
2. Which languages do you wish you could spend more time practising?
All of my languages equally.
3. What are some languages you'd like to learn in the future?
I want to keep learning Maori and Brazilian Portuguese. These are my tops of the top. I have actually made a list of languages that I want to learn, so I hope to have enough time to cover all of them.
4. So let's be honest, what's the sexiest language?
Of course, for me it is always Ukrainian. Apart of this, it is also definitely Maori. I find also Brazilian Portuguese pretty attractive. I find a Standard German very sexy too! When I hear German, I am melting.
5. What's the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
This feeling is priceless, when you think that you won't understand what is said or written, but you do understand. It happened to me so many times, when I thought: "I cannot read this book. I won't understand anything" or "I prefer to watch the dubbing because I want to understand everything". Later, I start reading or watching and everything is so clear for me.. Unbelievable!
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 doubt that there will be only literally few left, but there will be definitely less languages than today. It is a natural lifecycle of the things. Everything is born/created, develops, and sooner or later dies. Although, I really hope that most of the languages will survive.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
I would say to find one thing about the languages that brings you joy. It can be one thing general for all languages or for each separately. Let this thing keep you in track of learning more. It is important to just enjoy the process.