Dear younger me,
What if I told you that one day you will think all (or most) your thoughts, and dream all your dreams in a language that you haven’t learned yet? And what if I told you that one day, you’ll feel most comfortable speaking and expressing yourself in a language that is not the one you’re speaking now?Wild.
How can all your thoughts be in a language that you didn’t grow up speaking, and how can you feel more comfortable speaking in a language that wasn’t your first? It’s hard to wrap your head around it, yet it makes perfect sense - both things can be true. Fin da bambina, hai sempre sognato di imparare lingue nuove, e di poter comunicare con persone provenienti da altre parti del mondo. Quindi it’s not surprising that your brain has made room for more languages, and that English is the one that feel most comfortable now.
Learning a new language is like embarking on a journey that you’ll never regret. Non è stato facile, specialmente dovendo cominciare da zero ogni volta (forever fascinated by bilingual or multilingual households, but that wasn’t your case*). Hai dovuto ri-imparare a osservare e a descrivere il mondo con parole nuove quattro volte.* When things got hard, ti sei rimboccata le maniche e hai continuato ad andare avanti per la tua strada, unsure of where learning and studying new languages would take you, but certain that it would be somewhere beautiful.
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things” (Fiona Lewis)
Being multilingual means that you now have access to new worlds of words and concepts. It means that you’re able to notice and pick up on different connotations of reality. You have access to a new range of shades and colours that were always there, but that you were blind to before. Every language you’ll learn is like a magic door to this entirely new world, intrinsically influenced by its cultural and historical context.
Se potessi darti un consiglio, ti direi che la qualità più importante da mantenere è la curiosità, il non prendersi troppo sul serio, e l’umiltà di accettare che molte cose possono essere viste o interpretate diversamente. But I don’t want to spoil it too much for you, quindi ti lascerò la sorpresa di scoprirlo da sola e di vivere ogni lingua che impari a pieno.
About The Author: Gloria is an Olea Ambassador (Team 1.0, March - Sept 2023) and holds a 1st Class Hons in Foreign Languages Applied to Law and Business (LEA) (English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese) from the University of Nice as well as a Master of Chinese Studies from the University of Edinburgh.