Interview with

Nhat Vuong

Name: Nhat Vuong

Nationality or Ethnicity: Swiss from Vietnam
Where do you live? In Switzerland

Languages: French, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese and German

What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

My  parents came to Switzerland back in 1980 as Vietnamese refugees and I  grew up most of my life near Geneva. In Switzerland, every person has to  study English and another national language, which means that most of  the people you will meet here will speak at least 3 languages by the end  of high-school. In my case, I could speak French, English and German.  Growing up in a Vietnamese family, I have always spoken Vietnamese at  home with my family and during university I decided to study Spanish in  Valencia during a summer holiday and also did a university exchange in  Santiago of Chili, which helped to solidify my Spanish. After graduating  with a Master degree in Business, I followed a Japanese girlfriend, who  I met in Valencia and went to Japan where I lived in Tokyo for 8 years.  The funny part is that we were speaking in Spanish during our 5 years  of relationship even when I was living in Japan. I have returned to  Switzerland in 2015 and have now become an independent webmarketing  consultant www.digitalinception.ch and working on a project to build an incubator for start-ups working on sustainable development projects called the Tiny Green Village.

Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

It’s  hard to say, but maybe German and Japanese because they are my weakest  and there aren’t many opportunities in the French part of Switzerland to  practice them.

What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

I was thinking either Mandarin or Russian

So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?

Haha, I think that it’s French, but I think Spanish is a serious competitor.

What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

The face people make when they realise I can speak their language then the friendly exchange that usually follows.

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  don’t think it will happen but now that more Chinese people speak  English than English natives, we can’t deny that the world is turning  into fewer languages. Time will tell us.

What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Start  today! Learn English first of course, then go with languages you love.  You can’t learn a language if you don’t like it. Get a girlfriend that  speaks that language if you want to go faster ;) . Start with the  pronunciation. You can’t effectively learn a language if you can’t  differentiate all the different sounds. The vocabulary and the grammar  should follow. Learning languages open new doors and new opportunities  for you. If you speak more than 1 language you are probably doing better  than half of the world. So just do it!

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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