The International Association
Paulo Henrique Ribeiro
Name: Paulo Henrique de Sousa Ribeiro
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: São Paulo (Capital city)
Languages: Portuguese, English, Italian, French, Spanish, German and Turkish.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
My first contact with a foreign language took place when I was 8 years old and my aunt taught me something in French. That ignited my interest in learning languages. At school, I was always number one in English class. Even before graduating in high school, I had been invited to give English classes to Elementary school. Suddenly I was teaching at two of the best private schools in town. To be honest, the content I learned in school was not enough to me, and there were no language schools in my town. So, I decided to visit the school library and I started copying all English books I found. Later I bought a complete English course material and that has helped me achieve a good skill level. Some years later, I got curious about the Italian language. At that time, I was about 19 and some of the nuns and priests near my grandmother’s house were Italian. One day a friend gave me two Italian coursebooks as a gift and I went to the nuns’ convent and asked one of them to teach me how to pronounce. After I learned the pronunciation, I kept on studying on my own. Some months later, I was able to talk to Italian people who visited my town. That was a really rewarding experience. Some years later, I had the chance to interpret to Italian in a city tour free lance job. Then I wanted to learn German. Consequently, I decided to take some courses, but I had some setbacks with those courses. Then I’ve put my German on hold for many years, until I restarted with a German tutor and I finally reached a higher level. When I was in college, I had the chance to join the French classes and I learned for 1 year and a half. Someone asked for classes, and I started teaching French, too. Later, I moved to the United States and I finally learned Spanish, because the Hispanic community was everywhere in Orlando. Coming back to Brazil, I decided to learn Turkish. I studied 1 year and a half here, and I went to Turkey for a crush course. I came back to Turkey and spent almost two months just to practice the conversation. And I went there once again. I still have online Turkish classes. Today I am learning Esperanto and Romanian, but I’m still a beginner.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Definitely Turkish and German, because these two languages, especially Turkish, are not easy languages to practice here in Polyglot meetings in São Paulo. Attending the meetings for over 5 years I could meet someone to talk in Turkish only 4 times.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I’ve already tried Chinese and Russian, but I didn’t go on with them because I preferred to focus more on Turkish. I guess these two languages would be possible options for the future.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I hope it doesn’t sound cliché, but definitely French. Its pronunciation is soft and really pleasing.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The pleasure of making international friends. The pleasure of breaking borders, discovering new worlds.
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?
Although many more languages might vanish in the world, I don’t think there will be just a few left, especially because the culture of learning other languages has been more enhanced these days, through the internet, some schools which introduced local and endangered languages. That’s what I hope!
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Master your time wisely! Schedule your learning languages during your week according to your available time. It doesn’t matter how much free time you have, any amount of time is precious, and make sure to stick to your learning routine.