Name: Maxime Grivel
Nationality or Ethnicity: Swiss
Where do you live?: Switzerland
Languages: French, German, (Swiss German), Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, English, Russian.
Learning Arabic and Mandarin Chinese.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I have always been interested in learning languages since a young age, but I only realised it a few years later when I first went abroad to UK. At school I was doing just fine but I was not really passionate about languages because of the very grammar based classical approach. When I realised that after a few months of English I could actually communicate in a foreign language, everything changed. As I was studying in a English language school with many foreigners from all over the world and especially south America, I even ended up learning some Spanish thanks my Colombian classmates. Since then, I got hooked and I had already planned to keep on learning new languages. Since we have 4 national languages in Switzerland and many foreigners living in my country, it makes language practice easier. I also love travelling and use my languages as much as I can.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I could practice more Arabic, it’s getting very rusty. As I am learning Mandarin Chinese right now, I hope I will have new opportunities to practice it as well.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I am planning to learn Turkish but first I want to refresh my Arabic before moving on.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
French or Italian. More generally speaking, I think any kind of accent is cute in any language.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
For me languages are all about communicating with human beings and get a better connection with them, a better understanding of different cultures and of the world we are living in. I have tons of examples during my travels I can really relate to. It makes the toughness of language learning absolutely worth it for those little moments. I love being able to use certain languages for a specific situation, and also the way I express myself is completely different in Swiss German or in Spanish for example. This fascinates me!
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?
It is difficult to predict it but minority languages are already disappearing. It’s the case in Switzerland with Romansh (Rätoromanisch in German). I think we should preserve this richness.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
For young people I would really advise them to go abroad on their own as soon as possible, which will enable you to realise how “small” your language and your country are and how beautiful it is to learn a new language and an unknown culture. Hopefully it will encourage you to learn more languages and to step out of your comfort zone. For older people, I think language learning is a unique way to keep your brain fresh and fit as any other muscle (P.E teacher talking :). Have fun!