Life as a polyglot

Being a polyglot often stems from the chances that are afforded to us, but is also about taking those chances. On the day that Fluent in 3 Months by polyglot Benny Lewis is published, we’ve asked a polyglot, Livia, to guide us through her language experiences. What are yours? We’d love to hear.

Livia: Portuguese, English, French, Italian

My mother tongue is Portuguese and when I was ten my family moved to Canada. I had a wonderful English as a Second Language tutor who helped me become fluent within one year – it took my brother, who was half my age half the time.

I studied at a French Canadian school and that is how I learned my third language. Learning French, in a way, was much easier than English because it’s a Latin language and it just made sense to me.

My family is Italian, and even though we always spoke Italian around my grandparents, I was never fluent. During university, I had a chance to move to Rome and learning Italian was just a bonus.

I think regardless of how you choose to learn a language, you have try to make a connection with the culture. To me watching movies, listing to music or reading the paper in a different language has always helped.

The best advice I ever got was to read as much as you can in the language you’re trying to learn and highlight words you don’t understand, but only check the dictionary at the end of the book or chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you can grasp without knowing the meaning of every word.

What is your experience in language? For Livia it wasn’t just about learning a language, but also about learning different cultures.

Other Articles

Is the autumn equinox the start of a new season?

There are just a handful of astronomical events that non-specialists like me know of, and one of them will be upon us very soon: the autumn equinox. On 22 September 2021, day and night will be equal in length across the whole world. How so? Well, normally the… Read More

Brush up on your Latin this Back to School

The UK Education Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, has recently decreed that as part of the government’s strategy to level up, funds will be devoted to a pilot study into… Read More

New Conversations Day

Conversation had a very precise meaning for Dr Johnson, he of dictionary fame and a conversationalist par excellence. When his biographer, Boswell, asked him whether there had been good conversation at a dinner party, he declared: ‘No, Sir; we had talk enough,… Read More