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“The highest result of education is tolerance”

– Hellen Keller

Hello everyone! How’s it going? Today, I would like to talk about a specific topic as far as languages are concerned and also, a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time. Well, I’ve heard some comments in previous occasions where people say that determined languages sound awful, I don’t like the writing or they get scared when they hear the language or see the writing terrifying. Those are one of those comments that, not exactly make the language “ugly” (so to say) but not nice to some ears.

Off course! Each to it’s own. Which means, that every person has its own taste and preferences, meaning that some people like, e.g., French, because it’s the language of love, the sound is cool, whatsoever, whereas others don’t like French because they don’t like the sound of it or don’t like the writing, etc… To others (and I guess it’s the typical example) German sounds so hard, so bad, it seems that they’re yelling at you, many reasons.

So, in my opinion, I think every language has its own beauty. Why? Because as you know, a language reflects a culture, a determined group of people, all traditions and many things that build up a society in this World. So, due to this fact, there’s no ugly language or writing. As a Polyglot, I cannot afford myself being racist, ignorant and rude because it’s illogical to study a language but at the same, to claim that you don’t like the people who speak it natively or you don’t like the country or culture. Only the language. Well, maybe if you don’t like all that, it’s ok, it’s a personal thought and decision. However, in order to understand better the language and to learn better, in my opinion, you should like at least one element. Probably we can understand the dislikes about Islamic countries (no offense intended). Why do I mention these countries? Because since their religion has so many punishments towards women (especially) or to others who commit a bad thing against their principles, people tend to dislike it and they get scared of this culture. So, maybe we can understand those facts of not liking it. However, there are positive things as well. I personally don’t know further details but I know there are positive things.

Anyways, back to the track, every language is beautiful, no matter what. A language is not precisely about sounds and writing (which are the elements that determine this relative beauty), but mainly about the representation of a country, of a culture and especially, of the society. As I once mentioned somewhere around, it would be a boring World if we close ourselves in our own worlds and not to know about the others. Therefore, this can make several opinions about ugly language, ugly people, etc…, making us ignorant and narrow-mind. So, in order to open up more towards the World, we must see every person, every culture, as a beautiful thing (including the language) because it would also be boring to speak only one language around the World. That’s why, many languages exists and many dialects. We must remember we’re not all the same on this planet. We share different things and thoughts, as well as we can offer something done by ourselves, reflecting our own identity and to show the World who we are each one of us.

I hope you enjoyed the article. My best regards.

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Hi everyone! Today and once again, I had the pleasure to have an interview with José Luis, another Mexican Polyglot currently living in Chicago. You might know him from my previous interview but for those who don’t know who he is, he’s a Polyglot from Guadalajara but living in Chicago (as mentioned) almost all his life. He’s a Polyglot full of enthusiasm and passion towards foreign languages. He definitely enjoys studying them. Now, this interview consists of some questions concerning the German language and its difficulties. He asked me how hard it was (for me), what did I use to study it and so on. Obviously, the interview was done in German but here you have the transcript in English.

So, if anyone is studying German or will study it, here you can find some answered questions to some of your questions. Otherwise, if you need to know something else, feel free to write me or José Luis and we can answer you. Have fun and hopefully you like! Viel Spass!! 🙂 (pron. feel Shpass) 😉

0:05 José Luis: Good morning, everyone! Today, I’ll speak with Julio about German. He is another Mexican Polyglot. How are you, Julio?

0:13 Julio: Hello José Luis! I’m glad that we’re talking today and that we’re speaking in German. Hopefully, we can a talk a little bit about the German language. And how are you, José Luis? Everything alright?

0:31 José Luis: I’m doing fine but I’m a bit tired because yesterday I worked all day.

0:38 Julio: Yes! I suppose!

0:41 José Luis: Did you also work?

0:45 Julio: No, no, no. I had a lot of things to do at College and I had a bit of a hard week but everything is great, thanks.

0:59 José Luis: Did you do your homework?

1:04 Julio: Yes! I did everything.

1:08 José Luis: Excellent! Julio, what’s your experience with German? How did you learn German?

1:15 Julio: I learned German in 2008 and first, I started self-study, which means I bought myself some books. Then, I took a summer course. It was very good, a good course. Then, I studied at a language school for two years every Saturday when I was in High School. I had German classes and also, by myself with music, movies, etc….

1:57 José Luis: For how many years you learned it?

2:03 Julio: I’ve learned German approximately for three years and afterwards, I’ve only listened to it and watched movies. I currently don’t study it but soon, I think I will prepare myself for an important exam.

2:32 José Luis: Good! What’s the best method, to learn German? What method did you use? You only learned it at school?

2:43 Julio: No! I’ve also learned with music, for example. And listened to many podcasts. And I’m a fan of German movies. So, many things and I spoke with friends and with my ex-teacher. With a lot of practice.

3:21 José Luis: Great! Did you have difficulties with pronunciation?

3:26 Julio: Pronunciation? Not so much. I must say that pronunciation is not so hard. The hardest thing of the German language is grammar and the order sentence. So hard (*at the beginning; Forgot to say there).

3:47 José Luis: What’s the hardest component of German grammar for you?

3:54 Julio: Yes, sure! I just said it. The sentences. For example, “Ich habe …. Gehört” (I listened….., or literally “I have listened……”), „ich habe…..gemacht“ (I did or literally „I have done…..“). The second verb goes to the end whereas we don’t have that in Spanish (*and in English and some other languages either). In Spanish, we have, for example, “yo he escuchado música” and in German, “ich habe Musik gehört” (I listened (or have listened) to music). The word order. So, I say this.

*Realize that “music” goes to the end in Spanish and English (and some other languages) and not in German. In German, what goes in the end is the verb, as you can see.

4:34 José Luis: Is the Case System hard for you too?

4:39 Julio: Yes! The case system is also tough. I had problems with it but despite everything, in the end, I managed to handle them very good. I know my German is not on the top level but….

(*”der Fall System”, sorry. Not the “Cass Sytem”).

5:01 José Luis: Your German is very good.

5:03 Julio: Thank you! I can speak it quite good (*not perfect). I would say, hmmm, answering to you, the cases are tough. Nominativ, Dativ, Genitiv, ….

5:21 José Luis: How did you overcome these difficulties?

5:24 Julio: A lot of practice. I would tell you that practice made me everything easier. Besides, I read things.

5:44 José Luis: Read a lot of books.

5:47: Julio: Yes, exactly. I read many things where I looked at the cases. And I said to myself, “Ohh! It’s not that hard as they say around”.

6:01 José Luis: What is your favorite aspect of German culture?

6:07 Julio: I would say that I’m also a history fan. I like as well German music, the history. So, I like many things of German culture but mainly music and history.

6:38 José Luis: Have you been to Germany?

6:40 Julio: No! Unfortunately, I have never been to Germany. I’ve wanted it for years (*to go). I would like to visit one day Germany but now it’s kind of hard because I don’t work for now.

6:58 José Luis: Which cities would you like to visit?

7:02 Julio: I would like to visit Berlin and also, Munich. I would like to visit three (*actually these two but said accidentally three) cities. I would also like to visit Austria and Switzerland.

7:18 José Luis: Very good! I would like to visit Vienna and also, Salzburg.

7:24 Julio: Salzburg?

7:25 José Luis: Yes.

7:26 Julio: Yeah! So cool! Hopefully, we have enough money. J

7:33 José Luis: Julio, will you learn other Germanic languages in the future?

7:40 Julio: Now, I’m learning Swedish for the Add1challenge. I don’t know if you know about it. It’s a project where you learn a language for three months. Swedish, Dutch and I think these will be the only Germanic languages I’ll learn. Swedish, Dutch and that’s it.

8:16 José Luis: I would also like to learn Swedish. It’s so cool!

8:24 Julio: Beautiful!

8:26 José Luis: Julio, why is German an important language for today’s World?

8:31 Julio: Germany has a strong economy nowadays. It’s the biggest economy of all Europe. So, everywhere in Europe you can see (*often) some announcements in German. So, I think that German is an important language in today’s World.

8:59 José Luis: You can speak it with a lot of people too?

9:02 Julio: Off course! You can speak it in Europe. It’s an important language.

9:12 José Luis: Can you recommend me a good book to learn German?

9:15 Julio: Yes! I know some courses in English. For example, “Colloquial Series” or you can learn from “Assimil”.

9:29 José Luis: Did you use Assimil? Did you like it?

9:33 Julio: No! Back then, I didn’t know about Assimil but I learned German in other ways. For example, I used “Themen Aktuellen” and “Berliner Platz”. They are good books. Also, I have some books in Spanish. For example, “Cómo aprender rápidamente alemán”. Good books too. To answer you accurately, “Berliner Platz” and Assimil, I would say. And “Cómo aprender rápidamente el alemán”.

10:24: Cool! I need to buy several books in German.

10:30 Julio: Yeah! I recommend you to buy books in this language.

10:38 José Luis: Thank you very much for this conversation, Julio! I hope I talk to you another time.

10:44 Julio: Off course! Whenever you want, we can do another hangout and with more people too.

10:52 José Luis: Yes! I think that Google hangouts are so great.

10:56 Julio: Yeah! I agree with you.

11:00 José Luis: You are right. Thank you so much. Bye.

11:05 Julio: Bye! See you later!

Hello everyone! Last week I had the pleasure to be interviewed by another Mexican Polyglot named José Luis. He is from Guadalajara, Mexico but currently lives in Chicago, USA. He debuted on Youtube with an 11 language video a year before I did. So, here you have the translation script of the interview done in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. Hopefully you enjoy it.
And check out José Luis’s channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MrRomanceLanguages?feature=watch

😉

Introduction:

José Luis-Hello everyone, I’d like to welcome you to a very special guest. Today I have Julio César Aragón with me. He is a polyglot from Mexico City. Julio, how are you doing today?

Julio César-Hi man! What a pleasure to have you here and thanks for considering me.

José Luis-Thank you for being here, I’m very excited to speak with you.

Julio César-Yeah, me too! I was waiting for this moment.

José Luis-Alright, so today we’re just going to do a brief interview in a couple different languages. So let’s go ahead and get started. We’re going to start off with a little bit of Portuguese.

 

Portuguese:

José Luis-How did your interest in foreign languages begin? What was the language that caught your attention?

Julio César-Everything began when I was living in Canada many years ago.

José Luis-So you meet Brazilian people in Canada?

Julio César-Yes, I met people from lots of countries. I remember that there was a cultural fair at my school and I remember that I had to present Mexico. At that same time I saw other presentations as well and I really liked them and that’s when my interest (in languages) began.

José Luis-So, you met Brazilians there during your presentation and after that you got interested in studying the language, right?

Julio César-Yes.

José Luis-Did you start with studying Portuguese or was English the first language that you studied?

Julio César-Since I lived in Canada I studied English first. I also studied French but I learned English better since I lived in the English-speaking part of the country.

José Luis-It was in the English-speaking region, not Québec, right?

Julio César-No, it wasn’t.

José Luis-I really like Québec, it’s cool!

Julio César-Yes it’s very cool, the accent as well.

José Luis-Yes, the Québécois accent is quite quirky…Very cool.

 

French:

José Luis-Now let’s speak a little in French, sounds good? So, do you know any other polyglots in your city and if so, how did you make their acquaintance?

Julio César-Yes, I first met a polyglot named Sebastian.

José Luis-Yes of course, let’s send him a greeting!

Julio César-Hi, Sebastian if you’re watching us! So yeah, he was the first Mexican polyglot that I met because we both live in the same city.

José Luis-Do you guys live close to each other?

Julio César-Well, we don’t exactly live close to one another but we don’t live very far apart either. So anyway, he was the first Mexican polyglot that I met in person but before that I didn’t know anyone else.

José Luis-In my case, I think you were the first Mexican polyglot that I met because here in Chicago I don’t know any other polyglots. So yeah, you were the first.

Julio César– Wow, I feel honored because of that!

José Luis-Yeah, it’s cool…So, does a polyglot club exist in Mexico City with you and Sebastian? Do you guys meet up every week to speak together or not?

Julio César-Yes, a club exists. It’s called the Polyglot Club Mexico City and right now I’m the one who organizes it. In the past there were some other organizers but now I’m the main one.

José Luis-Do you guys get together every week to talk?

Julio César-No, at the moment we unfortunately don’t have any reunions but I think we’re going to try and organize something once every month.

José Luis-That’s good, you have to do something at least once every month otherwise people will forget that they club exists…You know, I tried to create a polyglot club here in Chicago and I sent out some e-mails but I didn’t find anyone that was interested in speaking French or Spanish.

Julio César-That’s too bad.

José Luis-Oh well, too bad for them.

Julio César-Well, I hope there will be some people there to speak with.

José Luis-Yeah, well here in Chicago I know people that bilingual who speak Italian and English or Spanish and English but not anyone who speaks three or four languages or anything like that.

Julio César-That’s too bad, but at least we can speak on the Internet.

José Luis-Yes, at least now Skype exists and I can meet other polyglots and speak with friends in Europe.

Julio César-Yes, that’s very cool.

 

Spanish:

José Luis-Now let’s chat a little bit in Spanish, which is our (native) language. So Julio, what is the reaction of people when you tell them that you are a polyglot? Do you generally feel that people admire you or that they despise you in some way when you tell them that?

Julio César-Well, I started being a part of the polyglot atmosphere at the end of 2011 and at that time I had only planned to study about five or eight languages. 

José Luis-Eight was your goal then?

Julio César-Yes, then when I started to learn more languages and improve the ones that I already studied people would ask me “how many languages do you speak?”. Then I’d say, “well, I speak these ones…” and people would be surprised and they’d be like “wow, you speak a lot of languages” but some others really wouldn’t really believe it and they’d act indifferently. But most people think that I’m really smart and that I have a big talent.

José Luis-I’ve also the same experiences where lots of people are admired by it and think it’s interesting because they also study languages and know that it’s something difficult. They know it’s hard to study every day and they admire and value all of the studying that you do. Then there are other people who don’t study languages who sometimes think that you’re making it up or that you’re telling a lie.

Julio César-Yes, it happens but thank God it’s not too often.

José Luis-Yeah, I’ve had both positive and negative experiences and sometimes just reactions of disbelief…So, have people ever mistreated you because you were multilingual and in what way have they done so?

Julio César-Fortunately I’ve haven’t really felt any mistreatment. Sometimes people ask me how many languages I speak and when I respond they’re just like “oh, okay” and they act indifferently. Others ask me I if can speak them really well or…

José Luis-Or they ask you to speak them at that precise moment and give them a presentation.

Julio César-Yes, I’ve done that sometimes. Also, a lot of people often look for perfection when you speak and they try to find errors that you make.

José Luis-Yeah, they look for some sort of defect to try and make less of you somehow.

Julio César-Yes, precisely but it’s only happened once and the other times were positive experiences.

José Luis-In my case, I’ve had especially a lot of negative reactions where people look at you as if you have a mental illness or as if you’re a fraudulent person that is telling lies. I generally get positive reactions but every once in a while I do get a negative one that makes you feel mistreated by others.

Julio César-Yeah, that’s why when I’m with friends I usually don’t mention that I’m a polyglot all of the time.

José Luis-Yes, I also do the same thing. I’ll only mention it if someone asks me about it.

Julio César-Me too, if people ask me then I tell them but if not I won’t say anything.

 

English:

José Luis-Alright, so let’s switch up to a little bit of English now. Julio, how would you motivate others to study languages and particularly people who want to give up studying simply because they think that languages are too difficult for them.

Julio César-I would say that they should first of all look for something motivating. For example, one motivation can be music. Recently I saw some comments about this Mexican artist Thalía and some Brazilian girls who said, “thanks to Thalía I’ve started to learn Spanish”.

José Luis-I know a couple of people like that as well who like Shakira or something and that studied a little bit of Spanish so they could listen to her older songs that are all in Spanish. That could certainly be a motivating factor.

Julio César -Yeah, so it can be music or also it can be like a movie or even if you see other people on the Internet speaking languages. Inclusively, my motivation to study more languages was Luca, this Italian polyglot, and also Richard and even you. I started to watch your videos and I said, “wow, I have to speak more languages than those I speak”.

José Luis -Yeah, the first video I saw was also Luca and then I saw Richard’s video and I was like “well, if everyone else is having success then that I can also have success”. So, it was an inspiration to see what the possibility was and that gave me inspiration and motivation that I could achieve certain goals as well.

Julio César-Yeah, exactly. I would say that first of all find something you really like and find it in the language you want to seek and then start little by little and don’t see the hard side.

José Luis-Do you listen to a lot of music in English then?

Julio César-Yeah, I listen to a lot of music in German and also Russian and Italian as well and I’ve started to listen to Romanian music.

José Luis-That was one of the motivating factors for me to learn Romanian as well. I found a band that I liked and I really wanted to know what the lyrics were saying so I’d just take out my dictionary and start translating word for word until I understood a whole sentence. And I remember when you translate a whole sentence in the song you get a really proud feeling that you achieved something that you understand the whole sentence finally.

Julio César -Exactly, that was so nice you know. That’s a very great feeling.

José Luis-And how do you choose a new language to study? You’ve studied eight languages so far and now you want to do something different so how do you go about choosing well this is the one I want to study. Do you study it because you have a cultural interest in the language or because it’s a popular language that you see others studying as well?

Julio César-Well it can be many reasons, one is the music for example. One day I was going to study Romanian and when I listened carefully to the language I listened to a song from Inna, one famous Romanian singer. She was singing in Romanian and it was like “what a beautiful language” and I started to look for Romanian resources. Also, it can be people speaking the language. There is a guy on the Internet who speaks like thirty languages and he spoke one of those and I said “wow, that sounds very cool”. I can listen to music or watch a movie or also that I see someone speaking the language.

José Luis-So you see them speaking the language and you say “oh, that looks like something that’s cool” and so you need to learn that language.

Julio César-Yeah exactly, that makes me pick up a language.

José Luis I’ve had the same experience as well where I meet someone that speaks a language that I don’t speak and I feel this urge to communicate with them. So I feel that I should learn that language so I can have the ability to communicate with others from their country.

Julio César-Yes, I feel this and I say “let’s go on, why not?”.

José Luis-What’s the latest language that you’ve started to study?

Julio César-Well, currently I’m studying Russian and also in these days I’ve started to scratch Catalan and I think I’m going to go serious with it.

José Luis-Excellent, that’s great news!

Julio César-Yeah I love this language even though I don’t speak it yet, but I’ve started to love it.

 

Italian:

José Luis– And now to finish let’s speak a little in Italian…So, what are your linguistic objectives for the future? What would you like to do after having learned so many languages?

Julio César-I really don’t know how to answer but I can say that I’d like to be a teacher.

José Luis-And travel a bit as well?

Julio César-Yes, and travel first of all to another country and especially some place where the language is spoken.

José Luis-You have already travelled to Italy, right?

Julio César-Yes, I was in Italy last year and I’d like to go back one day and also visit other European countries. And I’d like to be Spanish or English teacher here or maybe abroad.

José Luis-And so you liked Italy?

Julio César-Yes, I liked it a lot.

José Luis-Which city did you like the most?

Julio César-I think it was Florence.

José Luis-Nice. I like Rome the best but it’s because I really like Roman history but in your case you liked Florence because you’re an admirer of art?

Julio César-Yes, I like it a ton. And also because it’s city where you can walk around everyone.

José Luis-Yeah, where you can walk around the streets to see what you might find and to look at all the different businesses.

Julio César-Precisely, and another objective for me would be to also apply my languages to my career.

José Luis-Would you like to be a translator in the future?

Julio César-Yes.

José Luis-Or teach languages as well?

Julio César-Yes, I’d like to do both.

José Luis-Great! In my case, I’d especially like to travel more and meet new people. When I was in Italy I meet really great people in Rome and Florence and they were really nice to me and they were quite friendly. I liked it a ton!

Julio César-Me too! I hope to go to other polyglot clubs and meet more people.

José Luis-Do you know any other Italian speakers in your city?

Julio César –Besides Sebastian, I also know two other people.

José Luis-It seems like Italian is a popular langauge to study in Mexico, isn’t it?

Julio César-Yes, it’s a very popular language together with French and German but Italian is a little bit more popular than German.

José Luis-Yes, I also surprised that in my native city of Guadalajara there was a Dante Alighieri Italian school. It was very cool to see that because where I currenlty live there isn’t a school like that so I was like “wow, I guess there is a strong interst in learning the language”.

Julio César-That’s a shame, but at least we already speak the language (and don’t need to learn it in a school).

 

Conclusion:

José Luis-Well Julio, I want to thank you again for the interview. It was really great talking with you.

Julio César-Yeah, the pleasure is mine and hopefully we make interviews in the future as this one.

José Luis-Definitely, we’ll do it again sometime soon!

Julio César-Thank you for having me!

José Luis-And I want to thank all of the listeners and make sure to check out Julio’s channel on YouTube. I’ll make sure to post a link under the video so you can check out all of his videos as well and his endeavors in language studying.

Julio César-See you again, ciao! 

Hello everyone! How’s it going? Well, it’s been a little while since I wrote the last article about languages, as usual. My last article was about how difficult languages are or better explained, that languages are not really hard, giving certain references and examples to prove so.

So, today I want to write about languages described as a hobby and also that they can be a way of life. That’s why I wrote “languages more than a hobby”. About having languages as a way of life, many known Polyglots on the internet won’t let me lie about this because they’ve experienced this and definitely it’s a part of them every single day of their lives.

So, over these last months they’ve passed several important and big events, like the Polyglot Conference last May in Budapest, which I unfortunately couldn’t go because of final exams and also for economic reasons. Though, I look forward to the one in New York City next year or maybe in Berlin in 2014. Well, coming back to the events happened in May, there was a distinguished guest among all the Polyglots and to be honest, I didn’t know about him.
His name is Emmanuele Marini. A 35 year-old man (approximately) who hails from northern Italy, claims to speak around 30 languages. Impressive, huh? And he was shown in two videos on Youtube, speaking and answering some questions done by the other Polyglots in different languages.

So, what does this man have to do with what I’m writing? It has to do in the way that you can make languages part of your life. He studied all those languages and has used them in his work and besides, he has the opportunity to travel to many countries (especially in Europe). So, this means that you can make languages part of your life. Maybe some of you will tell me that it’s not necessary to do so because some of you only speak two or three languages or whatever. And you say that you only speak these languages just as a simple hobby and probably you don’t use them to make business (though in this field are so important).

That’s great! I mean, if you don’t find it necessary to use them to work, nothing happens. However, when speaking foreign languages (not the same quantity as Emmanuele or Luca or Richard, etc..) you have many opportunities and many doors are opened in many places and you can have a better job, or whatever reason you want. But it’s not necessary to make them part of your life once you have other priorities or other goals in life and simply don’t care so much about languages as we language enthusiasts do.

Now, what I think about languages beyond being a hobby, it’s possible. You can also ask interpreters or translators or language teachers if it’s possible or not. I’m not any of those professions but I say that if languages are your best passion and it’s the favorite thing you love doing in life and that you feel the greatest satisfaction when learning or speaking foreign languages, go on!

No matter what profession you are because many people say that you cannot relate languages with your profession. For example, one of my best friends (who is also a Polyglot as I am and also Mexican like me) studied Food Chemistry and Flute technics (If I’m not mistaken) but he loves so much foreign languages that he even told me one day that he would devote himself better to languages than to Chemistry but he obviously still likes his B.A.

So, who can imagine someone relating Chemistry (in this case) with languages? Some of you would say that this suits better in teachers or Translators or Interpreters because their job practically consists of that. Not really! You can be Physician or Mathematician or Economist, you name it. But if you are fond to languages or linguistics or alike, you can make it part of you. Off course! Why people would be limited to say that they don’t belong to it and it’s just a simple hobby? It can be more than a hobby.

Though, I repeat (I hope you don’t get annoyed XD). If you just learn one single language or maybe two, it’s fine to limit it as a hobby and a satisfaction but if you are not as fond to it as I am or Luca or Emmanuele, you name it, then it’s not necessary but keep in mind that a language is a tool for communication and also, for some business or even for fun.

As far as my experiences and my time being on Youtube and involving myself on the Polyglot community on the internet for over a year and a half, I would say that speaking languages make you expand more your mind and to discover many cool things and why not? If you have any knowledge in some language, apply these knowledge and share this, in order to maintain your passion and not to lose it and the things you like doing the most. Also, you meet new people from different countries and therefore, you can be able to practice your languages and you can help them to speak your native language correctly. And about making it part of you entirely, to get a job related to it or not precisely to change from your profession to be a professional translator or interpreter but to apply languages where you work. Like Emmanuele Marini. He works in a field related to international trade or commerce and he found a way to link these two fields correctly.

That’s it for now and I hope you enjoyed what I wrote. I claim not to be a language expert or a very well-professional enthusiast or language coach but I write and make videos according to my experiences with this beloved passion of mine, which are: LANGUAGES!

If you have any questions, comments, feedback, opinions, insults (lol lol kiddin’), don’t hesitate writing it. I would like to know what you think. And if I said something wrong or I missed anything or if you don’t agree with it, please let me know about it. Constructive criticism. I don’t want to sound myself arrogant or a very delicate person but we can get along each other very well without insulting us.

 

Stay tuned! 😉 My best regards! 

 

Julio

There are no hard languages
“If you think something is imposible, you’ll make the imposible”
Bruce Lee
Hello everyone! Once again, it’s me, Julio. Today I would like to write about some concerns that some language learners and also other people have when learning a new language. It’s about “hard languages”. Which means, how hard can a language be or not, especially for some people.
Well, in my opinion, every language is difficult. ”Julio, what do you mean that every single language is difficult?” Indeed, it is, believe it or not. “Even my own language is hard?”. Yes, sir! As I clearly mentioned on my previous article about “there’s no perfection when language learning”, not even natives know deeper their own language. I explained that C2 doesn’t mean you’re perfect or you know from A to Z the language you’ve spoken from the cradle. I know that some great polyglots like Luca, Richard, Susanna Zaraysky, Robert Bigler, etc… (you name it) have some sort of a high level in their languages or most of them (C1-C2). However, as the same Luca told me one day when I asked him a question a long time ago on his blog, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road.
So, coming back to this subject, even your own language is hard because you don’t know ALL the words that exist. Words can be infinite because they can be created. Especially in languages like Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, etc… where the respective languages are spoken in many countries. People create their own words and slangs and that’s why it’s infinite.
However, we have great news. Languages in the end are not as hard as people can think. Yes, previously I mentioned that is “hard”. It seems that I’m contradicting myself but let’s leave aside all this stuff about infinite, about hard, etc…. So, no language is hard to learn, whichever it is. For English native-speakers, for example, it’s known that Russian, Japanese, Chinese, etc… are “hard” because they are too different from English in all terms you want. Probably, some words around but that’s not enough to make it simpler. But if this English-speaker has the right ATTITUDE, desire, strong interest and passion, this person can make things easier.
I’ve seen in movies and inclusively on Youtube, some US-Americans, Canadians, British and other Anglophones speaking Japanese and Chinese and several other Asian languages very good, close to native. Non-anglophones think that English-speakers cannot learn other languages because they are used to be spoken in English all the time, since it’s the universal language and that they are too lazy to learn and especially these languages. But I’ve realized that it’s all a myth. It doesn’t matter the native language of the person. If this person (whoever) studies very hard, no matter how hard it is, she (he) will achieve excellent results.
Coming back to the Anglophones, we have good examples. Jana Fadness is an US-American girl who speaks Japanese as native or close. Why? Because she had this strong desire to learn the language and mainly because she was passionate about the language, the culture, people and alike. Another example, Michael Campbell, another US-American who can speak several languages from Asia, including Chinese Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, you name it. Another one, Steven Kaufmann, an ex-diplomat from Canada who speaks Chinese Mandarin and Japanese fluently (and many others), because besides his passion, his interest leaded him to be exposed to these languages back in the 60’s and 70’s in China and Japan (for example).
There are other examples of how a language is not as hard as it can be shown. And not precisely English-speakers or French or Italians, whatever. Inclusively, I can give you my examples when I studied German some quite time ago or currently with Russian. With German, when I didn’t speak a word of it, I remember I was scared because I heard many times comments that German is so hard, that German is impossible, not to mention Russian or Japanese and also that German is so harsh, blablabla. Let me tell you that I was indeed scared. But, why did I continue with German? Because step by step I started to have interest and passion for this wonderful language. That’s why German is among my favorites languages, because it made me realize that no language is hard and it unlocked me many doors towards studying other “hard” or different languages (Russian, e.g.).
I remember when I took my German classes, I made many but too many mistakes (I still do but way less than back then), but I realized that every language is a mentality you’re getting in. Which means, you are discovering a new society, a new country (even if you don’t necessarily travel to the country) and how people think. It would be boring if all World citizens, if all 6 or 7 billion persons of this planet think the same way you do. Personally, I would get crazy. What about you? Anyways, when studying a new language, you just don’t study grammar tables, how to speak,, etc… but also you learn how people speak according to their traditions and their way of thinking. And since we are hosts in their countries, we must try to adapt to what they think. Obviously we are going to be the same persons wherever we go, but at least to be diplomatic in the country and respect, what matters the most.
So, here you go a detailed example of how can you simplify your language learning. Now I’m struggling a bit with Russian. Russian is, indeed, a complex language and it has many things that other languages don’t have. But hard? Well, it depends on your attitudes, your discipline and your interest. I repeat, if you’re interested, passionate and with strong desires, you will make Russian easier. The same for Japanese, Arabic, Hungarian, Basque, etc.. cataloged as tricky but you can break that.
So, to conclude, every language takes its time to learn. You won’t learn a language in one day or in a week or in just one or two months but that doesn’t mean it’s hard. I wonder why people study X language for a couple of years. Some people learn it consciously and achieve fluency and claimed that it was complex or “hard” but NOT impossible. Some others had to study it because they were forced to and therefore, it was difficult and since they were obliged to, their lack of interest made them not speak it fluently as expected by the people who forced them.
So, don’t be scared to say that X or Y language is difficult. Nothing in life is easy but with all the qualities I mentioned at the beginning, you can make it simpler and afterwards, you’ll realize that it wasn’t as tough as it was at the beginning. So, learning a language takes time but it’s not difficult and also, you must have some sacrifice and dedication to what you want, so you can achieve excellent results. So, sacrifice, time, dedication, passion, interest and motivation are the keys to make things simpler and to beat this barrier of difficulty or trickiness or hardness, however you want to call it.
Thank you once again for your attention and I look forward to your opinions and to what you think about it.
Cheers!
“Never give up upon difficulties, go forward always because success takes long but it arrives”
Anonymous

Hello everyone!

well, it’s been a while since I haven’t written on my blog. I must recognize I’m quite lazy because I had almost two months of holidays and didn’t pay attention to this. So, I apologize and I’ll pay more attention to it because I need to write some things. I won’t talk about this, though.

Well, since I’ve been involved in polyglottism for over a year, I’ve realized about “perfection” when you speak any foreign language. Have you been asked if you speak the language “perfect”? Have your friends pressumed you to other people that you speak your language(s) perfect? Which means, no mistakes, just like a native.

I must say that I’ve experienced that. On one side, it flatters me because that means that these friends of mine admire me so much, up to be pressumed upon other friends or any other kind of person. Inclusively, in my case, when I went to the radio of my university to be interviewed, the radio host (also, a friend of mine) announced that I spoke all my languages “perfectly”. Well, I felt good and that made me feel awesome. But on the other hand, what I’ve realized about myself and many other polyglots who say that they speak X or Y language “perfectly”, no mistakes, that perfection is not true.

Yes, as you can realize, perfection does not exist. Not even in your own language. “How come? What do you mean I don’t speak MY own language perfectly? Duhh, it’s the one I speak everyday and blablabla”. Yes, I know you use the language everyday. However, you commit mistakes even in your language. Obviously you don’t commit the same mistakes when speaking another foreign language. However, you still do commit mistakes, but the thing is that you don’t realize when you commit these. For this reason, they say they don’t commit any mistake.

And not even the C2 level, according to the European Common Framework, is perfection. They are two different things. C2 means you can practically understand everything without any kind of problem, you can speak very fluently, participate in debates of a higher degree, like Politics, Science, Mathematics, etc… higher things. And off course! You write with an excellent spelling. However, even so, we are not exempt of mistakes. Obviously, when we are at a C1-C2 level, we commit less mistakes than that of A2, B1 or even B2. However, you still commit some mistakes, but the point is that you don’t realize when. Or sometimes, you do and that’s where you don’t care about the mistake. Somehow, not all people are interested in language learning and they just speak the language, without having so much idea of the language structure. And with this point I just briefly mentioned, I don’t claim to be a language expert or teacher, I’m just giving my point of view, according to my perspective.

So, whenever people say you speak X or Y language perfect, they are completely wrong. And also, talking a little bit about arrogance and humility, I think it would not be appropiate to say you speak “perfect”. However, I don’t say to do so. You are free to say whatever you want. Nevertheless, that is my recommendation. Not to say you’re perfect in this or that language.

And also, this is not scary for those who are in process of learning a language. Why scary? Because once they realize about commiting mistakes and that they will never be able to speak the language as natives (especially in pronounciation) they will quit the language. NO! That’s not the point of this article. What I try to tell you is that whenever you feel frustrated you can’t achieve a good pronounciation or you say some things wrong in a language, even if they are some small details and try to say it as native, don’t give up! Actually, mistakes are even you’re best friends (I will write about that later) and as long as natives of the language can understand you perfectly or without any problem, everything is fine and about mistakes, you can even improve those when speaking more and more.

So, in conclusion, I say that there is no perfection. Ok, some people believe it’s “perfect” because since they listen to a very good speech, good vocabulary, pronouncation, etc…, so they think that. But WE ARE NOT EXEMPT of commiting mistakes. Sometimes you have innocent mistakes or you forgot the expression or the right way to say it in that moment. So, even so, don’t give up on the language and continue in this beautiful journey of exploring languages and new cultures, societies, people, etc… Inclusively, you can get help and in any moment, you will speak the language fluently, without realizing about mistakes and all that, but that will happen if you don’t frustrate and pursue the “perfect, 0 mistakes” theory.

Thank you very much and whatever you need, just let me know.

By the way, I would like to know your opinion about this.

See you soon! 🙂

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!

Sebastián: Ciao!