The Many Faces of Bilingual – part 7

bilingualism bilingual multilingualism espanolita language linguistics


Happy Friday, friends!

We’re taking a short break from our regularly scheduled Family Fridays series to resume another fun series here on the blog, The Many Faces of Bilingual. It’s been a little while since the last post, so for those of you new to the blog (Welcome!), this is a series in which I feature different bilingual (and, multilingual) individuals from around the globe.

Did you know that there isn’t just one definition of bilingual? Or, that being bilingual means you have translator abilities? No, bilingual comes in varying shades and sizes. Bilinguals use each language for different areas of our lives, as you’ll learn in today’s post. So, I’d like to introduce you to two ladies, each with a unique language journey: Naiara and Cat, who blogs at Cat the Expat.

Be encouraged, friends.

espanolita bilingual bilingualism multilingual multilingualismWhen did you begin learning each language?

I was born in the US to monolingual English speakers, so English is my native language. When I was 5, my parents enrolled me in a Spanish Immersion elementary school, so for the next 6 years all of my classes were in Spanish. I very quickly became fluent. I continued the Spanish program until I finished high school. When I was 13, I decided I wanted to learn Latin, but my school didn’t offer it. Luckily, one of my mom’s new co-workers had just changed careers from being a Latin teacher. I had weekly lessons for about 6 months and then I started Latin at school when I went to high school, and again continued with it until I graduated. By the time I was 16, I decided I wanted to add another language. I flirted with the idea of learning Italian, but I ended up getting the opportunity to go to a French immersion camp in Minnesota for a month when I was 17. I came back and in my last year of high school I took French.

When I came to university last fall, I decided to take Chinese. I ended up quickly falling in love. I originally took it as an outside course, but am now planning on changing my degree to Chinese and Linguistics. Last November, having planned to go to Italy the next February, I decided to see how much Italian I could teach myself. Because of my studies, I didn’t really get that far, but I did survive in Italy! As if that weren’t enough languages, I decided to take German as an outside course in my second semester this year.

How often do you use each language?

I study Chinese at least 10 hours a week, but am trying to incorporate it into my life as much as I can. German is unfortunately not a priority, because I am really enjoying Chinese. Similarly, I have also suspended any work on Italian, because I can’t find the time. Latin, unfortunately, has pretty much been neglected completely because I find it difficult to use outside the classroom.

I still use English as my main language, and I am starting to use Spanish pretty much daily. I have friends I can talk to in Spanish and I have been reading the news in Spanish, as well as listening to Spanish music. I use French pretty regularly, whenever I have the opportunity, and I listen to music in French. I would like to maintain it, but at the moment Spanish and Chinese are my main focus.

In which area(s) of your life do you use each one?

I use Chinese and German in almost exclusively classroom settings, unfortunately. I am working on incorporating Spanish into my life as a social and conversational language, which has been an interesting transition from 13 years of being a language I rarely used outside of the classroom. French is now a purely social language, and I rarely read or write it.

What does being bilingual mean to you?

To me, being bilingual means able to communicate with more people and to communicate with those people better.

What do you love about speaking more than one language?

I love being able to speak in more than one language is because I feel like I can connect to so many more people by speaking with them in their native language. It’s one thing to get by with English, but it’s another thing to have experiences you never would have been able to have without speaking the other person’s language. You can really make someone’s day by speaking their language and the connections you make are so much deeper. In some cases it’s easier to get to know someone in their native language. Knowing more than one language has allowed me to have so many unique experiences that I know I never would have had otherwise.

espanolita bilingual bilingualism multilingual multilingualism

When did you begin learning each language?

I’m a native Spanish speaker. Since I was 6 years old I have been studying English, but I did not start speaking it until I moved to Dublin, and later here in the United States.

I learned Italian living in Rome for one year. And for me it was quite easy to learn; after three months I was completely fluent. I learned French living in Montpellier and Paris, and the truth it was hard for me to learn the phonics. I learned Latin and Esperanto at school, and then in college.

How often do you use each language? In which area(s) of your life do you use each one?

English and Spanish everyday, Italian sometimes with friends, French rarely, only when I am in a social situation that requires I speak French. Esperanto and Latin, never ever.

I use Spanish with friends and Family, English in my daily routine, Italian when I travel or with friends, and French when I travel.

What does being bilingual mean to you?

I do not remember when, where or in what book, but I once read that there are different languages because there are different ways of seeing the world. This phrase stuck in my mind from an early age. And I felt an infinite curiosity to discover other languages and cultures, to travel and learn about what the world can offer.

For my, being bilingual means having more freedom. Sometimes we do not realize the importance of the language. Without language, it would be impossible to have conversations, make friends, get a job, and it would be difficult to develop ourselves naturally in all social areas.

What do you love about speaking more than one language?

What I love is discovering the different types of personalities that I have speaking a specific language. Even my mood changes ! I’m not the same person speaking Spanish as when I’m speaking English, and I’am even more different speaking Italian or French. Also what I like is that I can feel comfortable in many different cultural context without having communication problems. This makes me feel freer!

Are you a bilingual? Would you like to share your story on the blog? Please contact me; I’d love to spotlight your language journey!

2 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Bilingual – part 7

  1. It is interesting to see that these ladies, who are mulitlingual speakers, have lived in different countries. Which may have contributed to their interest and abilities.


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