Hi everybody! Well, I decided to organize a talk with other Mexican polyglots, arguing about language system in Mexico and indigenous languages, as well as Spanish in the USA because one of the polyglots, lives in Chicago. Anyways, here’s the transcription translated in English. I hope you enjoy it.
Julio: Hi everyone! What’s up? Well, it’s me, it’s Julio. And today we’re talking about the importance of languages here in Mexico. And I’m meeting up with other Mexican polyglots from different cities of our country. Each one of them will introduce themselves.
Ricardo: Well, my name is Ricardo David. I live in a city called Ensenada, Mexico and I’m 21 years old. I’m studying Translation and Interpretation in foreign languages. I don’t consider myself a polyglot but I’m studying Italian, Russian, English and German and recently, I started with Portuguese.
Sebastián: Well, my name is Sebastián Alarcón. I’m 23 years old. Besides my Bachelor’s in Food Chemistry in the UNAM, I’m from Mexico City. I have another Bachelor’s: Flute in the Conservatory. And I do consider myself a polyglot. It’s only about the definition of what is to speak a language, but for me to speak a language is to be able to communicate whatever level I speak at, so I can communicate in 11 languages: Spanish, English, Italian, Basque, Esperanto, Catalan, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, French and Dutch.
Roberto: Well, My name’s Roberto Rodríguez Echevarría. I live in Guadalajara, but I was born in the state of Michoacán. I have a Bachelor’s in Dietetics. And I’m currently studying quite a few languages at the same time. I’ve studied (and still studying) a total of 7 foreign languages. However the fluency level I have on each varies. But the languages that I feel confident speaking in and can have a comfortable conversation are: English, French, Italian and Portuguese so far.
José Luis: Hello everyone! I’m José Luis. I’m from Guadalajara, Jalisco but I currently live in Chicago. I have a Bachelor’s in French and the languages I work with are Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, a little bit of Latin, German, Dutch, Polish, Russian and the last one I started studying in Mexico was Nahuatl which I really like. Besides languages, I also enjoy traveling, studying about other cultures, integrating myself into different customs and learning more about native speakers.
Julio: Well, I forgot to say that I live in Mexico City and I was born here in Mexico City as well. I currently study International Business and the languages I use are Spanish, English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese and I currently study Swedish and Russian. And further on, very soon I would like to study Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Romanian and Hungarian.
Now, let’s begin with this subject, about the importance of languages in our country. As you guys know, it’s a not very common phenomenon as it is in Europe. Nonetheless, let’s discuss a little bit what happens here in Mexico. This question will be a bit random. This means, someone can answer it. Why do people discourage when learning a language? What discourage them? What makes them stop studying and not to continue with it?
José Luis: Well, I would say that in most cases people end up not having much success with a language. Usually people start a language and they really like it during the first couple of lessons but when the grammar and structure get more complicated they end up not having the same level of success. Then they lose the motivation to continue studying and learning becomes difficult since they don’t know how to find the appropriate tools to further their studies and have the success they want to have with a language.
Roberto: Yes. Exactly! I think José Luis touched upon a very good topic when he talked about the resources & tools and how to get them and of course, being aware of which ones are the best for them in order to learn foreign languages. However, I believe that, generally speaking in our country (México) the reason why they don’t usually achieve depends on different factors. Let’s say English, which is not really mandatory but English can be learned in quite a number of schools all over the country. And I think that one of the factors involved, as far as I’m concerned, is caused by the fear of criticism from other people, who sometimes keep on saying that somebody’s pronunciation is not good enough. Or another one could be that some people may tell you feel like you were gringo (US-American) just because you’re taking the time to practice your English. From my standpoint, those two are quite big factors involved.
Sebastián: Roberto, I think that you’ve arrived to an interesting point: fear to being made fool of. I think that is dug in the Mexican culture. Also, the belief of that we rely on a teacher in order to advance. In the case of English and French, which are taught in Junior High School, whilst in public schools you start a language. One foreign language is started to be learned only in Junior High School. In private schools, you just start to learn it from Preschool. Studying in a private school doesn’t mean that you’ll study with good teachers, but there’s a difference, hence the huge possibility to practice a language. Also we’ll bring on the example of Scandinavian countries and countries like the Netherlands, where many programs are given in English. So they are within an Anglophone culture, and that’s not the case of Mexico. Here, films in open TV are dubbed automatically into Spanish and there is no real immersion, despite of the geographic proximity with the United States.
Ricardo: I think that in academic level, teachers give you a lot of vocabulary. I’m not saying that vocabulary is bad but at the beginning it could be. Then some of them force people to have a perfect pronunciation. You acquire this within time. Also some teachers are unfit to teach languages. For example, as I said, I’m studying a carrier of languages and we had a 3rd option, to assist a French class. My teacher did not speak French, so she taught just a few things. She got desperate, and I got discouraged due to this, so did my class mates.
Julio: Well! You just talked about an important fact. All this consists on people, as Sebastián said; they depend on the teacher because I know cases from some of my buddies, who’ve told me: “No, honestly I cannot learn it alone” or “If it’s not with a teacher, I don’t learn”. Simply, that happens with many students. Or as one of you said, they give you a lot of vocabulary or too much grammar, etc… As Steve Kaufmann mentioned on his book, “grammar explanations are obtuse”. This means, very hard to learn. Well, in this point he’s right but on the other hand, grammar is also important. But about this subject, people discourage because they don’t find who to practice with or they don’t find the necessary motivation. So, they don’t feel that motivated.
Sebastián: In my opinion, there’s more that the fear to being made fool of that I mentioned previously, as I did with the dependence to teachers. We carry as students all our hopes in the professor. If we discover that they’re very bad, we start to demotivate ourselves and we say: “If he speaks like that, how will I speak? As Benny Lewis said, what we have to do is to practice from the first day, no matter the level you speak a language at. In fact, I don’t know if you have seen tourists from the U.S. who would like to practice Spanish. They don’t mind the level, but to practice the language, and for the most of the people is gratifying to hear their mother tongue, no matter the level.
Roberto: Very much! I think Sebastian is right on his last comment. I believe that we all tend to forget that languages are for communication and not to snob around. Sometimes we expect to pick up a quite flawless pronunciation from day 1 or 2, or even from the first week or month. The thing is that we are struggling so much to achieve perfection. Notwithstanding this goes along naturally with Sebastian’s comment when he mentioned that make fun of others is in a way part of our Mexican culture; the fact that some people might mock of us due to our pronunciation or when we make mistakes in grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and what not. So we should definitely not forget about that. Nobody’s perfect and even us after studying quite a few languages, every time we begin a new one, we might sound kind of… well we’re not going to speak quite well from day one. The important thing about this is to be able to understand what is being said and also that our interlocutor understands what we say. That’s essential.
Ricardo: Yes! For example, I think Americans don’t care about their accent, or how they speak. Like Sebastian said, the only thing that they want is to practice. Mexicans are afraid of criticism. As Sebastian and Roberto said, we have to change this because we can’t get a perfect pronunciation. Maybe it could be possible but with a lot of time of practice.
José Luis: I would also like to touch on the subject of having support from family and friends when you study. I’ve been in many situations where if you don’t have an immediate use for a language sometimes your family will criticize you by saying that the language you’re studying is a useless waste of time. That you’d be better off studying math or science or something that you can immediately apply to a job since you’re currently not in an environment where you’re using English or Italian on a daily basis. So, sometimes the criticism from friends & family is a strong factor that causes you to lose motivation.
Julio: Guys, good facts talked so far! Well, I want to tell you guys, exactly what José Luis said: “People think that languages are useless”. Only English is the only useful one, because it’s one of the most important languages or if not, the most.
So, let’s not focus that much on these comments. Actually, I have a video (which will be posted) where it says that no language is useless, whichever it is. The most spoken one or the least spoken one. And as far as perfection is concerned, you’re right too. What matters is speaking, above everything. If you only know three words, but if you speak the language, why not to take advantage of the opportunity. And Sebastián mentioned Benny Lewis, who by the way, shortly made this video, “Skype me maybe”. That’s this song about. Not to be afraid and to dare to talk.
Roberto: Yes! For instance, one of the famous polyglots, Moses MCCormick, who makes Level Up videos, where he feels excited and encouraged about going to Asian restaurants because in general, he feels very attracted to Asian languages and it’s very evident how he enjoys so much going to the mall and restaurants and starts speaking to people, not even caring about the fact that he barely knows 100, 200 or maybe less than 500. So he just goes right on and tries to establish a conversation.
Sometimes he gets very good attitude from people and some others the opposite. He’s even been ignored, but he just careless and moves on. The point is that no matter what, he always has an optimistic attitude, and that doesn’t hold him back from doing so.
Ricardo: I really think that these two guys, Benny Lewis and Laoshu (Moses McCormick), I guess you guys have seen the video where they went to a mall and spoke around 12 languages. I think this is the attitude that should be taken by any person when studying languages or polyglots, because this is the only way to speak a language and reaching almost perfection.
Sebastián: In my case, as I mentioned in a prior video in Italian about how to lose fear. In our case, the process of knowing a girl and speaking a language are similar processes, where you leave the comfort-zone. Really, to speak a language is to leave your comfort-zone, where you feel safe with your Spanish, to go out. Even English we want to practice it, but we don’t feel confident because we think that we’re not well prepared, but when you reach that zone, there’s learning. Maybe you’ll do it well, maybe not, but you have learned new stuff. Morevoer, Nelson Mandela used to say: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart”.
Then, what I think is that no matter what’s going on, no matter what the others would say (in fact, when you’re in this polyglotism world), you just start to lose fear to making fool of oneself. Your social abilities exponentially grow. Besides that, there’s a Czech proverb that said: “For every language you learn, you live a new life. If you only learn one language, you only live once”.
José Luis: I also agree that the fear of embarrassment is one of the biggest obstacles that you have to overcome. Very often you study a language on your own for let’s say, two or three years and then when you try to talk with native speakers of English or French they might not understand you and you lose motivation. Then you start to think that maybe you’re not as good a student as you thought you were because you spoke with them in their language and they didn’t understand you and so that means that you’re not a good speaker. You need to lose that fear of embarrassment and gain the confidence to continue ahead, to make mistakes and to speak with people without always being worried about speaking perfectly. The important thing is to try and speak with everyone (you meet).
Roberto: Yes! I think that’s very reasonable José Luis, and besides that, and touching upon a topic that you and mentioned a minutes ago and so did Ricardo. Either you study a language at school or on your own you’re going to end up adopting a self-teaching attitude. You should not rely on your teacher, even if he/she is very good at teaching. You definitely need to take some time on your way to school, at home, before going to bed. Listening to music… having a lot of input is the key in language learning whatever the language. And on top of that there are people who claim not being able to learn without a teacher. Well I do believe that life itself is a self-teaching path. There comes a time in our lives that we all have to be self-teachers and we usually are in those fields that we love the most. So why not on languages too? I think that we all should think over when it comes down to learning a foreign language.
Sebastián: A topic that could happen (we have talked yet about discouragements of your own family) but we have not talked about, is of discouragements of people whose mother tongue is the one you’re learning. For example, people who speak not-so-mainstream languages, like Dutch or Russian, the own persons say: “What are you learning my language for? It sounds so gibberish”. I remember about a Belgian whom I spoke to him in Dutch and he asked me why I was learning a language that sounds not so beautiful and he urge me to rather speak French. Why do you learn it? Because you like it and it’s a respect towards the other people’s culture, and you must see it, as a respect to the culture, as a way of immersing oneself into the very culture, and at the same time, you start to speak better your own language, and we had not talked about it before.
Julio: So far, very interesting this discussion about using languages and as Sebastián briefly said about respect to the culture and people. Simply, people learn languages for respect and because they like the culture.
Talking about culture, in our country, we have a lot of indigenous languages. In an interview Sebastián and I had a long time ago; we mentioned there were 63 indigenous languages approximately. However, they are not taken seriously because since Spanish is “official” (*de facto, really), people don’t care. I would like to know, guys, if this respect is so important. Well, obviously it is, but what do you think? Is there a real respect for indigenous languages?
José Luis: Well, I think that depends on the perspective each person has of indigenous languages. For example, indigenous languages fascinate me very much but someone else might perceive that to study or speak such languages would be something embarrassing. A lot depends on the environment where you live and on the perception of the language, whether it’s something good or bad, positive or negative.
Ricardo: As you said before, to many people, unfortunately, indigenous languages are useless and they believe they can get a good job or a place to practice those languages.
Roberto: Nowadays indigenous people are, and have always been a minority which increases as time goes by. In general, there is a misconception on the pointlessness of indigenous languages, which I consider to be wrong. I do believe that languages are as good-for-nothing as you want it to be. You may study and never go out and get some practice on it and try to communicate with people, to learn from their own culture and therefore respect it, so by not doing so is how the language becomes good-for-nothing. It depends on you. In general, we tend to ignore how many indigenous languages there are and the number of dialects and I think it’d be important that. Just like Sebastian mentioned (if I’m not wrong) he said that Guaraní, being an indigenous language, is part of Paraguay, part of their culture and therefore they give it its own importance. I guess it’d be awesome if Náhuatl could be taught here too even if we use it with indigenous people or not. It’s part of our own culture and at the same time it’d enrich it and become better known in the world. But that’s just my standpoint.
Sebastián: According to my point of view, in fact Spanish is not the official language here in Mexico. In Mexico there is not an official language. In theory, it has the same status Spanish and the 68 indigenous languages (I forgot that fact in that interview I participated in), but it’s not all. There are over 300 dialects deriving from the 68 ones.
Actually, there’s a massification of Spanish. The learning of the indigenous languages is not stimulated, nor in public schools of the great cities, where they’re not spoken, nor even in rural communities. Besides all, the indigenous themselves are made fool by most of the people just because of the way they speak Spanish. In addition, people who often mock of them don’t try to learn them. Hence, the urgency of a respect towards language learning. And besides all, the same indigenous don’t help you to learn the language. For example, some dancing men in Zócalo. I know a person who said that when a foreigner came to them, they were very friendly, but when a Mexican went to them, they became more reserved, they didn’t wanted to talk to him and so is to the learning of indigenous languages. Also, an indigenous language is used as lingua franca like Náhuatl, and other languages are not stimulated, nevertheless, being as important as the first, like Mayan, Otomí, Zapotecan, Mixtecan. We could spend one hour just mentioning the languages that are in Mexico and this is not the aim of this conversation.
Ricardo: in fact, making a small parenthesis, yesterday I had y the idea of asking some of my friends about this topic, and really they are really conscientious, that these languages are important. But for some reason they don’t have the opportunity to study or they don’t want to. Actually, a friend of mine even told me that she has a Náhuatl dictionary, and one of the questions was: “Do you think that learning of indigenous languages is important in Mexico?” An answer really impressed me; because that means that she has respect to culture. She said. “I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR A BETTER UNDERSTANDING TO INDIGENOUS CULTURES. WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE OF A RACE , YOU ALSO UNDERSTAND THEIR CUSTOMS AND THAT HELP TO A BETTER COMMUNION IN THE COUNTRY.”
Julio: Now that you were mentioning about respect, admiration and alike…
Sebastián: Well, seems that there are some technical problems. We’re going back to this point with Julio later, but between us we have… It seems that Julio is back. What were you saying?… Well, as soon as we can. Between us, there’s a person who lives in the U.S., who is José Luis, and he has been in touch with the culture of the northern neighbor and we want to know your opinion about the use of Spanish in the U.S. We know that in U.S. there’s no official language either, but the de facto one is English. However, there are lots of languages because U.S. is an immigrant country and the Latino community is growing a lot. So, Spanish is being greatly studied. So, what can you tell us about this topic?
José Luis: Yes, Spanish is currently the most studied language in the United States. It is taught in high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. From the moment children start their studies there are many schools that offer Spanish courses. Currently, the most common languages to study are Spanish, German and French but almost everyone chooses to study Spanish. It is considered to be the most useful language after English. Regrettably, even though many people study Spanish in high school many of them do not know how to speak it after they leave school. They don’t continue their studies and they don’t travel to a Spanish-speaking country to practice and they lose their ability to speak it. Besides that, here in the United States there are many resources to live in a Spanish-speaking environment. There are many media sources in Spanish such as television, radio, magazines and many companies also offer their services in Spanish. There are also small stores with signs in Spanish such as those that display return policies entirely written in Spanish. For example, I’ve lived almost all my life in the United States and I really don’t use English all that often. I only use it when I go out with American friends and at home I always speak in Spanish, I watch T.V. in Spanish or I read magazines in Spanish. When I go out I feel like I’m in a Spanish-speaking environment and I don’t feel any pressure that I’m required to speak English or that I have to lose my own (native) language just because I live in the United States.
Julio: José Luis, good point the one you just mentioned. You lived there, as you said. How do you notice other Mexicans when they arrive to the United States? You lived there since you were a small kid. So, English was not hard for you learn it. But, how do you notice other Mexicans when they arrive to the United States, when they suffer with the language, and the reactions of Americans towards Mexicans, which we know it’s so critical.
José Luis: Yes, well many immigrants that come here only to work for a short while and then return to Mexico usually move into Spanish-speaking communities and live in a Spanish-speaking environment. Many schools also offer classes conducted in Spanish or they have classes in English but all of their schoolmates are Mexican and so they speak Spanish every day. Immigrants also usually find a job with other Mexicans or go to school with other Mexicans and they really don’t have the need to learn English because they feel as if they were still living in Mexico. Quite often, if immigrants don’t leave the Mexican community where they live they don’t feel any pressure or any necessity to learn English and they continue to be monolinguals. Afterwards, they return to Mexico without having learned any English because they always spoke Spanish while they were in the United States.
Julio: Oh yes! I’ve heard some cases about it. Actually, that was something similar I felt when I lived in Canada a long time ago. I also was in another plan. But in general, many people meet people from their same country or they just listen Spanish, to say it like that, they don’t care so much about the language.
So, José Luis, how do you perceive multiculturalism in Chicago, in comparison to Europe’s? We know that they are totally different regions but, is there a real multicultural difference between Europe and Chicago?
José Luis: Yes, Chicago is in fact a very multilingual city. There are many cultural neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little Italy and Greektown which are very well known. Multilingualism is prevalent among people but the lingua franca continues to be English. People speak their language with other native speakers but they speak English whenever they encounter someone from another country or from a different culture.
Julio: Very good! Kind of cities like in the USA; New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or in Europe; London, Paris… obviously is so common and normal to listen to these languages.
Well, coming back to the indigenous languages; due to technical problems, it couldn’t be heard. Honestly, in Mexico, there’s a theory respect. Which means, “I know they are my ancestors” and alike but they see it useless. “What do you learn Nahuatl, Zapoteco, etc.. for?” Inclusively, they are educated to only speak Spanish and nothing else. So, the encouragement for indigenous languages in Mexico is missing. First of all, to promote them and for respect to the culture of the country we live in.
José Luis: Yes, I would also like to see more resources to learn indigenous languages. For example, in Guadalajara I took a Náhuatl course but outside of the class I really didn’t find very many resources to help further my studies. There aren’t very many study or reference websites and it’s difficult to find the right tools to continue learning. It would be better if there were more resources to facilitate learning.
Ricardo: Including, sometimes we are looking for help with speakers of indigenous languages, and unfortunately I met a woman who seemed to be ashamed of speaking an indigenous language. I asked to her if she could teach me her language and she told me that she wasn’t able to speak an indigenous language and afterwards, I realized she could speak an indigenous language. This could be thanks to racism that has been very present lately.
Roberto: I just wanted to mention something brief. Just wanted to ask you guys if you know any library where we can get some resources for indigenous language learning or even a website for Náhuatl (mainly). I was at the FIL (International Book Fair – Feria Internacional del Libro) and there was only one language learning books stand and none of them were for self-teaching, they were rather the typical very well-known school book that we used to read in secondary school with the traditional methodology which is not the best there is. I know it takes quite a time to get to visit all stands in the Fair but in general I did not see any book in or about Náhuatl. So do you know any resource for this language? And if so, could you let us know about it, and also to the people who is going to listen to us.
Sebastián: Well, I was searching in internet. Relatively, there’s a lot for Náhuatl and Mayan but apart that, there is not a good course for Zapotecan, although having found a Youtube channel, but it’s not exactly complete, nor Mixtecan, and so on. There is no course for other languages. Changing of topic and coming back to multiculturalism, I see that in certain zones of Mexico City there is multiculturalism in boroughs (called “colonias”) like Polanco and Santa Fe, where many foreigners live, but it’s true that there are practices and also, even in touristic zones, you can practice or you can be a bilingual guide. Near the touristic zones there are hostals, when you may also practice the languages. Ricardo, since you live in Ensenada, which is near the border. Can you tell us, how is this multiculturalism there?
Ricardo: yes, really here in Ensenada, there is multiculturalism but just in touristic places. Hardly, you find people from other countries in the city. There were a lot of Russian people in the Guadalupe Valley (border with the US) and we often hear that this friend’s mom is Russian or this friend’s aunt is Russian by the fact that in the Guadalupe Valley, there used to be a lot of Russian people.
Julio: All topics have so interesting so far. Ok, so, we have talked about how we perceive language system in our country, that we have so many indigenous languages. Especially because they are not taken so seriously; this is too bad because they are so many ethnic groups. However, we should study at least one. Precisely, this lack of resources to study indigenous languages is because of the lack of encouragement. And as one of you mentioned, they were embarrassed and inclusively, they ought to speak Spanish and they leave aside their language. So, that’s why there are just some few resources. However, there are some museums or libraries with some books or courses available.
A servant doesn’t know where exactly, but I’ve heard some things around. So, what else do you think about this, guys? What would you like to conclude with, as far as multiculturalism in Mexico is concerned or about polyglotism?
Ricardo: Actually when I travelled to Guadalajara, I met many foreigners. Probably Roberto agrees with me.
Roberto: Well, here in Guadalajara we can see a lot of incoming tourists downtown, most of them are Americans and this occurs mainly in March, April, May (spring and summer too). However, since Guadalajara is quite a big city, it is not that easy to find foreigners here and there. It’s not like you’re going to run into a new foreigner every street you actually walk on. It is kind of hard practicing languages here with foreigners, at least in real life. We all end up communicating with people through Skype which is one of the best tools there are for practicing foreign languages.
José Luis: I would also like to add that while I was living in Guadalajara I noticed that there were a lot of schools where you could study foreign languages and I’m surprised that there aren’t more people interested in polyglotism. For example, here in the United States there aren’t any schools like the ones I found in Mexico. There aren’t any small private schools where I can receive foreign language instruction by a native speaker of Russian for example. In Guadalajara I had the incredible opportunity of finding a school in Chapultepec where they had native Russian speakers teaching quality Russian classes for an economic price. Here in the United States there really aren’t any resources that compare to the schools I found in Mexico. In fact, I really wish that those types of resources would be available here as well. In several different Mexican neighborhoods there were schools that offered Chinese, Greek and Polish and I was really surprised not to see more people taking advantage of such high quality resources.
Sebastián: José Luis, you just said an interesting point: language schools. I think that there are many in universities. Particularly, in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) there’s the Teaching Center of Foreign Languages (CELE) where 16 languages are taught: Arabic, German, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, French, Greek, Italian, English, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Basque and Náhuatl (I forgot to mention Japanese). But I searched and I found that the Language Departments in the Universities from the U.S. are quite interesting and very specific. For example, Farsi and Uzbek courses, and I was very surprised. If I had the chance to do a master in the U.S., I would go to practice or to learn another one. It’s not only to ask for “language schools”, you just have to search and ask more in the Language Department, like Tim did, who said that at the same time he learned Farsi, he learned Indonesian, because he searched which Language Department there were. And that’s worth it. José Luis, you have the chance of being involved in the University of Chicago. I don’t know if you have already finished or you still continue studying there, but there are tons of courses you can take.
José Luis: Yes, I just wanted to add that universities here do indeed teach a large variety of languages. At my university there were 35 languages available such as Basque, Czech, Russian, and Catalan. The only problem is that not all people have access to college-level courses and those that go to college usually only study Spanish and they’re not interested in other more exotic languages.
Ricardo: Exactly when José Luis mentioned Russian (it’s a language that some of us are studying) here in Ensenada I have not found a place to study Russian. I’m even studying at a language university, and Russian is not available. It’s only available in Mexicali, and we can make it available but we need more than 10 people, but here almost nobody cares about learning Russian, and when you are studying Russian you could get a certain level. Let’s say B1 or B2 and then, it is not available anymore, because there are no teachers to teach you the highest levels of Russian. About the variety of languages here in my university, we only have Italian English, French and Japanese. And there are some that are available after, like German, Chinese and just in a very poor level.
Julio: Honestly, it’s great to take advantage of these opportunities, especially in cities where they are many universities where many courses are offered, like from the most popular languages to the exotic ones. An example, Glossika studies dialects from Southeastern China or the Chinese Region or from Southeastern Asia. It doesn’t matter what language. If it’s in that university, take that chance to study it. It might be good or bad, but to take advantage of the opportunity but mainly, to practice the language.
The main objective of this conversation was to talk about the perception of languages here in Mexico, to wander why so many discouragement and especially, to tell everybody not to discourage. Also, to take more seriously indigenous languages and to take advantage of the offered courses in universities or private language schools, etc… but to adapt it to your interests and satisfaction. I don’t know if somebody wants to say anything.
Roberto: I just want to mention that hopefully in the future we could do more talks like this. And based on this debate or chat (however you may call it) so more people could see it on Youtube and they could feel encouraged and so, we can get to know any other polyglot who’s not on Youtube or Facebook or through social networking. This community could grow, which is now so small at least on the internet.
Julio: Excellent! What about you, Ricardo?
Ricardo: The same thing. We should have another talk like this one. It was a pleasure to talk to you guys about this topic and anyone who is out there and want to add us, we will be available for them to clarify their questions.
José Luis: I would also like to see more support among polyglots. I’m personally greatly lacking the support of others who enjoy languages because I spend most of my time around monolinguals and around people who only speak English. It’s difficult for me to continue my studies because I don’t know anyone else that’s interested in languages. The motivation of knowing other people who have the same interests as you do and that are passionate about languages and learning about other cultures is strongly absent.
Sebastián: In conclusion, I want to say that I liked a lot this conversation because for me, the Mexican Polyglot Community is one of the strongest ones, the one that’s growing the most over. Maybe is not as popular as videos like Luca, Richard, Glossika, Tim, Laoshu (Moses McCormick), but here we go, we’re making some noise, we’re working more, we’re making videos. There are people who do motivational videos. For example, telling us their learning method or in my case, exposing Mexican culture in several languages. By the way, don’t miss the channels of each polyglot that is here, and there are worth to see them. Maybe in 10 years, it would be a reason of a brotherhood, and to say: “It’s a reason for a brotherhood and also to join more people who share the same passion, not only Mexicans, but also Latin-Americans and other foreigners. I think that even foreign polyglots are realizing that at the same time they practice Spanish, specially Mexican Spanish, also they’re learning how does the language world live in Mexico, and they may listen to different Mexican Spanish accents. For example: Julio César and me speak with a central accent; José Luis, besides speaking the accent from Guadalajara (Tapatío), speaks with the one called “pocho”; Ricardo speaks with a northern accent and Roberto speaks with the one of Guadalajara (Tapatío).
Julio: Ok, so we thank you so much for your attention, for this conversation and for listening. Possibly, I’m looking forward to talk with other Latin Americans because there are similar topics in the region. As Sebastián said, the cannels will be posted on each of the respective pictures. In my case (Julio), only subscribe. Any question you have, statement… anything, we will be able to help you. Thank you very much and very nice to talk to you, guys!
Roberto: You’re welcome! My pleasure!
Julio: Before we leave, somebody say something motivational. I don’t know! Ricardo, Sebastián, José Luis.
Sebastián: For those who want to learn languages, I want to say that this is not a velocity race, but an endurance one. You have to be constant in this, you have to keep practicing, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll see yourself as a fool, but what matters the most is: don’t lose heart. The more languages you speak, the best, it’s clear that you must care about the level, but is not the most important. You have to care to practice and to learn because learning languages helps you against Alzheimer and in social abilities. Even people consider polyglots sexy ;). So you have a great motivation.
Julio: What would you like to say, Ricardo? Before leaving
Ricardo: It’s a perfect opportunity to get to know new cultures, meet new people. Like Nelson Mandela’s phrase that Sebastián mentioned. I liked it so much. Also, it’s said when you learn a new language, it’s the soul… (How was it?)
Julio: You acquire another soul. As Luca said
Ricardo: Exactly! For every language you learn, it’s a new soul. That’s all.
Julio: And you, Roberto?
Roberto: Based on what Ricardo said. One thing that holds people back from learning languages, at least here in Guadalajara. They say “I do want to learn French but I still need to get it done with English” which is a wrong thought, because it exists the belief that learning English will make French easier to learn, in the sense that people think they’re similar. I do believe that in general, nobody has to learn English first before learning other languages like French, Japanese, Arabic or whatever language. It is going to be very useful in the sense that your brain will be way more exercised and ready to learn a different language and soon thereafter they can go on English. I think that feeling attracted to the language is key in general and also to find a way to use it.
Julio: And you, José Luis, what would you like to say?
José Luis: Yes, I hope that more people, especially more Mexicans, get involved in polyglotism because it has personally been something that has completely changed my life. Ever since I started with Italian when I was 15 years old my life took on a whole new direction. I discovered new aspects about the European world and I became aware of other cultures that I didn’t know existed. Now that I speak more languages I have the opportunity to meet people from other countries and to learn about their culture and their perspectives. By learning more about them I’ve also learned a lot more about myself all thanks to my studies with other languages.
Julio: Again, we all thank you for your attention. Anything you, we will be able to help you and you should remember to never discourage learning languages and ask for help. There will be always someone to help you. If not, listen to this song, “Skype me maybe”, done a week ago by many polyglots. Thank you so much, guys. My pleasure and let’s see when do we have a next talk.
Sebastián: Don’t mention it. Thanks to you. Thanks for the invitation. Thanks for having the initiative of organizing this and to congratulate everybody for the learning. And also why not, to encourage all the Mexicans, Latin-Americans, and not only them, but also, all the world who go into this world that worth to live it.
Julio: Ok! Thank you and good-bye!
José Luis: Thanks a lot, goodbye!
Roberto: Thank you and see you!
Ricardo: Thank you and good-bye!