Interview with

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.

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

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