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Interview with

Wiktoria Ozierow

Director, Youth Engagement

Name: Wiktoria Ozierów
Nationality or Ethnicity: Polish
Where do you live?: Kraków, Poland
Languages: Polish (native), English (C2), Italian (C1+), Portuguese (C1), Spanish (B2+), French (B2), Swedish (A2), Croatian (A1), German (A1)

Wiktoria was appointed as HYPIA Director of Youth Engagement in 2024.

Member since:


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

I started learning English in kindergarten when I was 5 years old. For many years it was my favorite subject at school and I enjoyed learning it, especially by watching many American movies and TV shows. I knew learning languages would be worth it, since I always loved to travel and get to know other cultures. In my first year of high school, I studied English very intensively and obtained the First Certificate in English (FCE), confirming my knowledge of the language at C1 level.

Then I decided to focus on Spanish, in which, despite 4 years of studying it at school, I was a complete beginner. I was lucky enough to attend various courses with teachers from Costa Rica, Mexico and Spain. I also received a lot of support from my lovely high school teacher, who gave me lots of extra study materials and read all my essays. I eventually managed to get the Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE B2).

By attending a Spanish course, I was able to take another language course for free for 5 weeks. I picked Italian because I had traveled to Italy multiple times and I had fallen in love with Italian culture, art, nature, cuisine, architecture and people. Once I started learning this beautiful language, I couldn't stop. Then I spent 5 months studying at university in Rome (in Italian) as part of the Erasmus+ Programme, which was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

I decided to learn French because I had always found it incredibly beautiful. After finishing high school, I enrolled in an intensive online course. That summer, I went to France for the very first time. I started speaking French right away, literally after my first French class ever, and the positive reactions of the French people encouraged me even more to keep learning. Then I chose French as a foreign language to study at my university, and took an intensive course again the following summer, which was also an amazing experience. After completing the French course at my uni, I continued studying on my own.

One day, surfing the internet, I came across Portugal's song for Eurovision 2020, called "Medo De Sentir". When I heard it, I loved it so much that I immediately decided to learn this wonderful language (but eventually chose the Brazilian version spoken in Rio de Janeiro). This time, however, I learned it more naturally, by watching videos, listening to podcasts and reading. It wasn't until I was at B2 level that I signed up for classes with a Portuguese speaker, which I continued until I completed the C1 course.

In addition to these languages, I know the basics of several others. I learned some Swedish, German, Croatian and Czech, mostly due to my frequent travels around Europe and getting to know people from different countries, but I still consider myself a beginner. At some point I also studied a bit of Swahili (Kiswahili) and Māori (Te Reo Māori), since I found their history and culture incredibly fascinating, as well as a little bit of Greek and Korean, because of their interesting writing systems. I’d love to study some of these languages more in depth in the near future, but for now I’m mostly focusing on Swedish and Croatian!

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

If I had more time, I would probably try to properly learn German, Czech, Korean and Greek.

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

Greek, Korean, Czech, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Farsi, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Romanian, Catalan, Hindi (and relearn Swahili and Māori!)

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

I'm biased because I love the Romance languages. For me, there’s a tie between Portuguese, French and Italian - but if I had to pick, I think I‘d choose Brazilian Portuguese (the Carioca accent)!

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

I love visiting countries where I speak the local language. When I talk to the locals in their native language, I often get a very positive reaction and sometimes even manage to make a deeper connection with them. This makes me very happy. These days you can accomplish the same thing with the internet. In addition, I really enjoy reading books in foreign languages (especially those that haven't been translated into Polish or English) - it’s a unique experience that sometimes gives me insight into the culture of the country.

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?

While I fear that some languages might indeed disappear, I believe that the efforts of language enthusiasts will encourage others to pursue the common goal of preventing language extinction and reviving extinct languages.

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

Nothing is impossible and if you dream about something and believe in it, you can achieve it. The key is to fall in love with the process of getting there. Setting goals will help you stay motivated, but make sure you are learning languages in a way that is enjoyable for you, because it will take a lot of time. But most importantly, remember that this experience will enable you to meet amazing people, gain another perspective on the world, boost your confidence… and it will truly change your life!

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