Name: Salvatore Acerra*
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live?: England
Languages: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Swahili, Indonesian, Mandarin.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I really cannot tell or even figure out when it all started. I guess I always had an innate talent. I remember my English teacher telling me I had a knack for languages, and they all came naturally to me. I honestly regret starting learning languages at quite a late stage in life, maybe just a couple of years ago. I felt like there was always something drawing me into language learning and when I finally started picking up other foreing languages I realised a new world was opening up right before my eyes and I could never get enough of it. I started seeing how similar languages were and how one can become a master of them rather than being scared or intimidated by their vast vocabulary. One downside I believe is worth mentioning is the fact that I have only met two really good teachers in my life, hence I started relying on myself and my own learning skills. I began to buy books or use the Internet as a useful resource for my studying and I turned to native speakers for some advice or just a conversation practice.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I fortunately have a large number of friends from different countries and that helps me get the right amount of daily practice of my target languages. Though, I would love to spend more time practising Swahili with more people who are also learning the language.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I focused on learning at least one language per continent. I am currently learning Filipino and I am not sure which language I will pick next, but I would like to study a Slavic language.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I think all the languages can be sexy, regardless of whether it is being spoken by a native or someone who has learnt it. Each language is fascinating in its own way.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
To be fair, I find pleasure in imparting knowledge onto others and share new discoveries with my peers. That is why I decided to work part-time as a Modern Languages teacher, so that I could show everyone how satisfying and worthwhile it is to pick up a new language.
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?
Unfortunately, this might be true, but we can still try our best (together with this association) to keep them alive.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
My advice is to fall in love with a language and the culture of that language and then the rest will come naturally. Once there is passion and determination, it is fairly easy to get totally immersed in the target language and you will be amazed by the results in little time.