Many of you may know that I teach and speak several languages. I teach English, German, and Spanish. In addition, if you’d like to go on a trip, I could help you with Hungarian and Turkish. I also speak Ukrainian and russian. In fact, I am trying to forget russian because of the full-scale invasion of russian forces of Ukraine.
Let’s start with a definition of the word “polyglot.” According to the Cambridge dictionary, a polyglot is someone who can speak or use several different languages. So, I can call myself a polyglot.
I grew up bilingual.
Unfortunately, my parents spoke russian. And that’s the language I am trying to forget. Because russia is killing Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian, they bomb us and torture us physically and mentally just because we are Ukrainians, and we speak Ukrainian.
I am proud to be Ukrainian and that I know the language. Ukrainian is my most favorite language!
An interesting fact: did you know that Ukrainian “Shchedryk” was adapted as an English Christmas carol, “Carol of the Bells,” by Peter J. Wilhousky of NBC Radio, following a performance of the original song by the Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1922? Listen “Shchedryk” here. Also, I highly recommend reading this blog post, “5 Amazing Reasons To Learn Ukrainian Today“.
When I was 4 (1993), my parents bought me a book, The Giant Walt Disney Word Book
There were pictures from my favorite cartoons and words in English with transcription in Ukrainian. For example, “in the morning” – /in ze moning/. I begged my parents to teach me English using this book, but we all knew that the pronunciation was crappy.
Back then, we didn’t have English lessons at kindergartens, and there were no English clubs for kids. It was in the early 90s.
I was looking forward to going to school and learning English. Yet, until high school, English was my least favorite subject, as teachers did not explain it well and used the grammar-translation method that dates back to the 19th century. This method mainly focuses on learning grammar and translating texts into the native language and vice versa. It was not only boring but also useless. Wasted hours of my life.
Despite the fact that we had boring lessons at school, I was still motivated to learn English. 20 years ago, I knew that English was the language of the future.
When I was 14 (in 2003), I found a private language school where I learned English twice a week. They had a communicative method of teaching. A bit later, my friend told me about free classes with native speakers at the Mormon Church. At the Mormon Church, they kindly tried to persuade all people to convert to Mormonism. But they failed.
Obviously, I had many hours of English:
- 5 hours a week at school;
- 2 hours at the private school;
- 2 hours at the Mormon church.
With all these additional classes, I started falling even more in love with English. Although I had lots of fun learning English, I slept 3–4 hours a day and was sleep-deprived. Also, 20 years ago, I had only book dictionaries. So it took a bit longer to find unknown words compared to these days.
I knew English well. Therefore, I decided to learn English at uni (in 2006). Eventually, I got my BA degree in teaching English and foreign literature.
My relationship with German started at school (in 2004).
Just two years before finishing school, we had a second foreign language at school: German. I loved learning foreign languages, and I explicitly had big hopes for learning German.
There is another “however” with this relationship. ha-ha
Our school teacher had no enthusiasm for teaching German. We had boring books and read grammar rules in a chain way. Boring. Unmotivating. German was my least favorite subject of mine at school.
After that, I studied German at my uni. I was eager to learn German! But I had my heart broken again with studying German at the uni.
As a matter of fact, I was full of hope for learning the language. Unquestionably, I was looking for ways to do it. I found an excellent private school in 2010, where I improved my German and started learning Spanish.
Years later, I went to Hamburg, Germany, for an intensive German course. It was fun! Unquestionably, it was an amazing boost to my knowledge!
One of my childhood dreams was to learn Spanish. We had a phrase book at home, and I was learning some sentences myself. I remember clearly that my 1st sentence was: “He venodio como turista” (I have come as a tourist).
Years later, I fell in love with a song in Spanish – How Can I Live by Ill Niño.
14 years ago (in 2009), there were no places in my hometown where I could learn Spanish, or even finding a teacher was a huge challenge.
Eventually, I found a private school where I was learning my beloved Spanish and German. I really enjoyed it! Awesome teachers and awesome group mates made my experience unforgettable!
After 4 years of learning Spanish, I passed my exam and got international proof that I had a B2 level.
In 2014, I went to Budapest. No doubt, I did my homework and learned a few phrases in Hungarian. I clearly remember that I learned, “Help! There is a thief!” “Go away (a rude version),” and others.
It turned out that those phrases were not enough.
I went to a supermarket and needed to ask for 2 packets at the cash desk. I tried to ask for them in English, German, Spanish, and Turkish. But no luck. I was angry.
A typical dialog was:
- Should I turn left or right to go to…?
- Yes, yes.
These two things drove me crazy!
Let me tell you that those were the times when we did not have Wi-Fi everywhere, and the vocabulary in Google Translate was not as good as it is now.
I found a private school that offered me 1-on-1 classes with a Hungarian teacher, Zsolt. I listed some topics I wanted to learn based on my goals. We had classes for a week.
I used to go to Budapest twice a year. Every time I came, I had private classes with Zsolt.
And whenever I come to Hungary, I try to talk to as many people as possible.
I went to Turkey in 2012 to work as a guest manager at a hotel. I’d been there for two months.
Almost no one spoke the languages I knew. That’s why I had to learn Turkish.
I was learning it by myself, using some cool websites. In particular, I learned a bit about myself and some useful words and phrases. I must admit that learning Turkish was extremely hard for me. Some staff members at the hotel helped me learn the language, too.
I remember that the chefs kindly laughed when I asked what was for dinner every evening and if there were French fries (patates kızartması). Surely, I loved French fries, and I ate them almost every evening. I also often ate tomato soup (domates çorbası). I had to learn all their menus as I wrote them in Turkish and translated them.
Another thing I remember clearly is that when I asked the staff to do something, they always asked for deadlines. My answer was the same: beş dakika (5 minutes, meaning “in 5 minutes” – beş dakika içinde). We always laughed at the deadline. A typical dialog was:
- When is the deadline? In 5 minutes?
Lots of laugh.
I was looking for a teacher in Kyiv, Ukraine (where I live), with a communicative approach. But I didn’t find one. Later, I lost my motivation to advance my Turkish.