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Interview with

Olena Dudarets

Name: Olena Dudarets
Nationality or Ethnicity: Ukrainian
Where do you live?: Ukraine
Languages: Ukrainian, Russian (Native), English, Spanish, Italian (C1-C2), Brazilian Portuguese (B2-C1), French, Turkish, German, Serbian (A2), Hungarian, Basque (just started)

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

I started learning English when I was 5 and German came into my life when I was 10. Both languages were obligatory at school, but I started Spanish completely by myself when I was 13. I tried Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, French and Turkish before I finished school but I didn’t even reach A1 in either of them.
I would study Spanish on and off when I was a teenager and it became a bit more serious in 2010-2015. I passed the C1 exam in November 2015.
I can say that my polyglot path began in 2015, I’ve been doing something for my languages on a daily basis since then. Sometimes it can only be 5 minutes of memrise or 2 pages of a book.
In 2015-2016 I worked on my Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, English and French. In 2017 I started traveling a lot and I didn’t study that much but I had a lot of practice. In 2018-2019 I decided to improve my Spanish and try to pass C2 and I did it after a second attempt. I still have a lot to improve but I’m happy that I can finally read books in Spanish, I’ve ready so many Latin American and Spanish authors, I can’t believe it.

I improved my Turkish significantly in 2021. I had been struggling with it for years but I finally fnished my A1 textbook in the beginning of 2021, I went to Istanbul 4 times that year and I even attended a course in a language school there.

I was spending a lot of time in the Balkans in 2019 so I decided to improve my Serbian. I enjoyed studying it despite awful materials but in 2020 I kind of lost my motivation because I couldn’t see my next trip to Serbia or Bosnia due to the pandemic. So I continued learning but my studies were very sporadic.

I’ve been doing quite a lot for my French since 2020. I use textbooks but thankfully there are a lot of podcasts and videos for learning this beautiful language and I use those materials too.

I’ve had so many attempts with Italian. The main ones were in 2015 and in 2020-2021. I have a difficult relationship with this language but the good thing is that one of my favorite books ever is in Italian (“Sostiene Pereira” by Antonio Tabucchi). Another important thing is that I have a friend from Italy but we don’t always speak Italian, because he’s a polyglot too and he wants to practice Russian with me. I also passed CILS C1 in 2021, it was fun.

Learning German at school didn’t give me much but I found a cool exchange in 2021 and I started speaking German after our weekly calls last year.

I mostly studied Brazilian Portuguese in 2016, and I had a lot of input because I was watching a Brazilian soap opera at that time. Later I started to listen to a lot of Brazilian Podcasts and I read some books too. I got to practice Portuguese quite a lot because I met a lot of Brazialians in Europe.
I also started learning Hungarian and Basque but I haven’t dedicated to them enough time. But I’m planning to do so.


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

Actually all of them.


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

Maybe Romanian, Polish, Hebrew, Farsi…


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

I’m hesitating between Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.


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

Speaking those languages is the biggest pleasure. Even when my level is very basic.


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! And I hope I can contribute to language diversity a lot by spending more time on studying rare languages like Basque.


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

Don’t hesitate to try all of the languages you want. There are more and more useful resources nowadays.