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Interview with

Paul Malevitz

Name: Paul Malevitz

Nationality or Ethnicity: Eastern-European Jewish

Where do you live? Miami Beach, Florida

Languages: English, Spanish, Yiddish, French, Hebrew, German, Russian

Member since:


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

My  parents were native Yiddish speakers and that was the first language in  which I became fluent and literate.  In high school I studied Spanish  for two years and French for two years.  I saw that I was easily picking  up both languages, so after graduating, I enrolled at Los Angeles City  College during the day and the University of Judaism in the evening.  At  Los Angeles City College I studied French, Spanish, German, Italian,  Russian and Hebrew.  I was inducted into the foreign language honor  society of LACC, Alpha Mu Gamma, with German, Russian and Hebrew.  At  California State University, Los Angeles, where I enrolled after City  College, I received two Bachelor of Arts’ Degrees:  one in French and  the other in Spanish.  After graduating college and beginning working, I  studied one year of Mandarin Chinese at East Los Angeles College, one  of Portuguese, one year of Polish plus numerous upper-division German  and French courses at the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s distant  learning program.  In my college career I also had two quarters of  Arabic.

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

I  would like to become more proficient in Arabic and Chinese.  With  knowledge of Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and English, you have a  large percentage of humanity with whom you can be in personal contact.

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

The  Dutch language, I understand, is half-way between English and German so  it shouldn’t pose too great a problem to learn. I’d like to learn the  Scandinavian languages.I understand that Danish, Swedish and Norwegian  are somewhat mutually understandable. Knowing Russian and some Polish, I  think that other Slavic languages shouldn’t pose too great a problem  either.

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

I suppose that if I had had a girlfriend from a foreign country, then her language would have been the sexiest.

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

I  like surprising people who speak a language I know by speaking to them  in their native language.  As a teacher of English as a Second Language,  I feel it is important to speak the native language of my students to  help them with the similarities and differences of English with their  own language.  I am also pleased that as a teacher I can privately  counsel the students in their own language should they have a problem or  question.

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 don’t think there will only be few languages, but possibly fewer than there are now.

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


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