The International Association
Name: Maria Soledad Tugues Sambola
Nationality or Ethnicity: Catalan
Where do you live? Andalusia, Spain
Languages: Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian, German
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages? Catalan is a minority language in Spain (around 9 million speakers), so we learn Catalan and Spanish at the same time, as native languages, one at home and school and the other one at school, on TV, etc. I started learning English when I was 8 years old and I enjoyed it a lot, it always felt easy and fun. When I was 19, after finishing high school, I went to Great Britain for a gap year, when I met a New Zealander with whom I lived for two years. Back to Catalonia I started a Degree in Tourism and I began learning French, German and Russian. After university, I lived for two years on the border with France, so I spoke the language every day, improved its speaking and became confident with it. In the following 15 years I worked in an export company where I used English and French. While I was working in this company, I started a Degree on Catalan Linguistics. I never got to use German or Russian during this period, but two years ago I started a new degree at university, Translation and Interpretation (Spanish to German and French). Now I can again manage with a decent German level. Also, I have studied Italian for two years and I have already achieved a fluent B2 level.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising? I have a special feeling for English because it was my first contact with foreign languages, but it's hard for me to choose; I just enjoy speaking them all!
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future? Dutch and Sign Language are the following languages I want to learn. Maybe also Swedish. After those, I would like to start with Nahuatl. Also, Portuguese is a language I have always wanted to start with.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language? I love the musicality of all languages, but I must be honest ... Scottish variety is my weakness.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages? Learning languages is my passion. It's a feeling inside of me that I cannot control. I love hearing people speaking other languages (doesn't matter if I don't understand them); their sound is like wonderful music for me. And when I speak that language, communicating and getting to know other cultures throw its own tools is for me the greatest pleasure. I also have a special interest in grammar, so I greatly enjoy analysing the different ways of constructing them.
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? 400 years ago, many languages disappeared due to colonisation. We have to make an effort to avoid that happening again. Minority languages must have strong language policies that protect and guide them.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages? I love meeting people who I share this passion with, and I always encourage them to travel as much as possible. Travelling is the main gate to learning.