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Interview with

Victoria Kolesnikovich

Name: Victoria Kolesnikovich
Nationality or Ethnicity: Russian (also partly Belarusian and Polish by descent)
Where do you live: Moscow, Russia
Languages: Russian (native language), English (near-native), Spanish, Italian, French (professional), Turkish, Finnish, Norwegian (conversational).

Member since:


1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

I started learning my first foreign language (English) at the age of 8. However, at that time I didn’t like it much and never felt anything special about language learning. That lasted until the age of 15 when a new, very imperative, and strict English teacher came to our school and made us study her subject very hard. At that time, my indifference towards language learning turned into a strong hatred. However, at some point, when my involuntary hard work began to bring good results, I realised that I quite liked language learning. A year later, I went to a summer English school in the UK for the first time, and that visit changed my life and my life plans. As a result, I decided to become a professional linguist and add one more language to my portfolio. And then one more. And more. Now, it’s a big part of my lifestyle. I can’t imagine a single day of my life without using at least one of the languages I have learnt throughout all these years.

2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

In fact, all of them! I never stop learning new things even about English, the language I’ve been studying regularly since I was a child. Even if I read a few lines in a newspaper, a paragraph or two in a book, or listen to a podcast or a new indie song, I very often learn a new expression, idiom, or collocation. When it comes to all the other languages, I would say the more the better! I wish I had time to practice all of the languages I speak daily.

3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

There are two of them: Portuguese and Arabic. While Portuguese is a rather realistic goal, Arabic is still a very distant and beautiful dream.

4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?

This is not the most evident choice, but for me it’s Greek! I don’t speak it and never tried learning it, but each time I hear someone speaking Greek, I can feel a breeze of rampant emotionality, exquisite sweetness, and a touch of uncontrollable passion.

5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

It’s very hard for me to put this feeling into words, but with a new language, it feels like I become a slightly different person. I start thinking in a new manner, express myself with new words, intonations, and collocations. I even noticed that my voice slightly changes when I speak other languages! It’s like opening a new, unknown side of myself with every language I learn (and yes, I’m not crazy!) Most of all, I like the fact that new languages let me understand the cultural aspects of the countries which use them. For example, let’s imagine that I would like to learn about some aspects of adult education, and I look for articles/podcasts/interviews/magazines about the issue I am interested in, using 4 or 5 languages that I understand well. I tell you, in each case the approaches/ explanations/interpretations will be slightly (and sometimes not slightly at all) different. Having such a broad range of possible outlooks, approaches, and interpretations makes me feel very empowered and advanced in my ability to acquire knowledge practically about anything.

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?

It’s a very complex issue, which I believe requires much consideration. This is true that the languages used by linguistic minorities tend to die out, and globally spoken languages, such as English, French, and Spanish, seem to dominate the world more and more. However, I feel like together with globalisation, there’s a strong tendency for ethnic minorities to express their identity and uniqueness, and conserve and use their own languages as well. As much as the world each time becomes more global, the tendency for self-identification is equally strong. I don’t want to sound like a hopeless optimist, but I genuinely hope there will be more than just a few languages in 100 years.

7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Stop thinking and start learning! The world is incredibly diverse, particularly in terms of cultures and languages. I’m sure that one lifetime is not enough to grasp the aspects of each culture, learn how each language in the world sounds, and listen to stories and music related to various parts of the world. Just learn as much as you can, talk to people from all over the globe, share stories and ideas, and travel if you can. Don’t waste a single minute!

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