Name: Mikel Telleria Mujika
Nationality or Ethnicity: Basque
Where do you live?: Donostia-San Sebastian, the Basque Country (Spain)
Languages: Basque, Spanish, English, German, French, Romanian, Portuguese, Italian and Russian. Learning Dutch, Darija and Ukrainian.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Basque is my native language, I learned Spanish in school and of course, watching TV. I had English, French and German lessons in university, but I mostly learned to speak by watching shows, listening to podcasts, reading and talking to people. The same can be said about all the other languages that followed.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Definitely Ukrainian. I just started learning, because we have a non-profit project to help Ukrainian refugees learn the languages of the countries they are staying in as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am going to need it in the following months.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I want to learn an Asian language at some point, like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai. But the time available is limited and there is so much in Europe alone to visit, experience and learn, that I don’t find the time for it.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
French, without a doubt. Sexy and sophisticated.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Meeting speakers of said languages, especially outside their home countries, where they don’t expect people to speak their language. Speaking multiple languages when abroad or when talking to tourists is one of the things I enjoy the most.
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 do intend to do as much as possible to promote Basque. Other speakers of minority languages should do the same.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
To go for it, and to never give up. There is no “talent for languages”, you’re not “bad at languages”. Learn consistently for long enough, and you will be able to speak any language.