Silvia Cihakova Aguilar
Name: Silvia Elizabeth Čiháková Aguilar
Nationality or Ethnicity: Guatemalan
Where do you live?: Czech Republic
Languages: Spanish (native), English, Czech, French, German, Italian, Portuguese
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
My polyglot story is simple:
Once upon a time I was born monolingual.
Then I learnt 6 more languages.
Now I have 3 trilingual daughters.
They are learning more languages and if they want, I will be in the future a grandma of super-hyper-polyglot children.
I am not really sure how it all really started. But I can remember that my first language-learnig-boom appeared right after I began my language teaching journey… A coincidence?
If I have to describe the beginnings, I would go back to my school years in Guatemala first with French and English. Later on I was taking also Hebrew lessons in a community center. German was added when I was a teenager as part of „another-after-school-activity“ .
The real ¨passion¨ towards languages appeared when I became a teacher of German. I just went crazy and enrolled at the same time three intensive courses in French, English (back again) and Italian. Due to my work and studies I also spent a couple of months in Germany, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands, so Polish and Dutch were for me becoming more and more familiar. Before moving away from home in order to follow my Ph.D. Program in the Czech Republic I learnt ¨quickly¨ Portuguese and the basics of Russian, Polish and Czech (now fluent) by myself. During the pandemic I ¨decided¨ to awaken my ¨old¨ hobby and found wonderful teachers for Mandarin and Croatian too.
I can also share a ¨funny and short experience essay¨ in 1000 words… Haha, sorry. It just recalled so many of those moments when my students come to ask me help with their essays. -’¨Silvia...I´ve got to write a cover letter ..there has to be at least 250 words!!¨
So, I will try to tell a short funny story which comprises 4 cover letters!
Here we go:
Mhhh… It is not easy to tell something funny as a task...normally I have no problem when it comes to make my students laugh. Yes, ok, I haven´t still mentioned I have been teaching languages for more than 25 years. (And teaching itself for more than 40 years -My first student was actually a Polish classmate of mine struggling with her first readings in Spanish in our 1st grade of elementary school :)) -
Ok, now the ¨funny one¨:
Or perhaps I should say the ¨funny ones¨… and I promise THEY ARE SHORT…
So, here we go again…
Once upon a time, when the dinosaurs did not exist any more and people used to go to German lessons at 6:30 AM every day from Monday to Saturday* ,there was a group of students full of dedication whose teacher was having a bunch of fun while delivering her lessons.
On a sunny May morning they were having their first contact to the question ¨What do you do? / What is your job? ¨. Everyone understood the grammar, pronunciation, spelling, vocab…
Everybody was just flowing in the ocean of new words and structures …
Ohh! Something like the ¨Teachers Heaven on Earth¨… Ahhhh.
And then IT simply happened:
At the time all students had taken part in the intensive interview (giving answers such as I am a physician, I work as a psychologist, I am retired, I own a shop, etc, etc), there was finally MY TURN!
Yes, that amazing moment when students have the golden opportunity to ask the teacher!
-¨Silvia, and what do YOU do? ¨
A short silence was interrupted by my wise answer:
-¨I am teacher for German langu…..¨
And that last word was lost inside the words:
-¨No, I mean it seriously!!! Silvia, what is your JOB? ¨
Laughter killed the rest of silence remaining in the room, and since then, THAT last comment has been recurrently given to me after many of my OWN students ask about my profession….
I haven´t still found out why is it so hilarious, but as I said: If students laughed, there might be a reason it has been funny stuff beyond that question.
I am not counting the words, but if you feel it is not enough, I can copy+paste the last story...because it hasn´t happened just once….
Hope you got the joke (I still haven´t)!
Silvia, your Neurolanguage® Coach (Yes, I know, anyway perhaps teacher is funnier...sorry)
*Yes, really! Believe it or not Goethe Institut Exam Centre in Guatemala used to offer (or perhaps is still used to!) intensive German courses of 90min each 6x a week!!!
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Mandarin, Croatian, Portuguese, and French.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Hebrew (I was learning it when I was a child, I have to re-learn it again), Japanese, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Hungarian.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
For me personally, German :) Yes, no kidding!!!
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
That magic sparkle in my students eyes when then enjoy what they learn. I coach them for Spanish, German, English, French and Italian as a foreign 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?
I have no clue, and I believe the essence of communication will be preserved forever. The one that goes beyond words.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
If you really know what you want, keep learning a new language, practise it once everyday!
And just in case you still do not know, practise it twice a day!