Dude, that festa was lekker!* – A polyglot’s entry to the Inspire Language Learning Blogger Competition

UPDATE: If you have stumbled onto this post, please click the like button at the end of it! 🙂 Thank you!
*This is a normal phrase you will hear from Portuguese immigrant’s children in South Africa which means “Dude, that party was nice!” and is a combination of English, Portuguese (festa = party) and Afrikaans (lekker = nice)

A couple of months ago I read this article about the benefits of being bilingual which made me think a lot my own experience of not being only bilingual, but trilingual and the benefits it brought me in my eventual changes in jobs and since then I have been thinking about writing a post about this. A couple of days ago Jay over on From There to Here wrote a post on something similar after being approached by Kaplan International’s Inspire Language Learning Blogger Competition in which they challenge you to “Argue whether love, travel, intelligence or money is the most important benefit of learning another language”. So here is my own take on learning another language.

inspire language learningLearn English with Kaplan

For context, I speak three languages fluently since my childhood: English, Portuguese and Afrikaans. Why all these languages? Well, I was born in South Africa to Portuguese parents (one of which spent their teenage years in England), in a small Afrikaans town. I spoke Portuguese to my dad, uncles and aunts; I spoke English to my mom, brothers and cousins; I spoke Afrikaans at school as all my primary and secondary education was in Afrikaans.

So how has learning/ knowing these languages helped me? Let me list the ways…

  1. Knowing Portuguese and Afrikaans has actually helped learn and understand other languages quite easily compared to someone who only speaks English. My Portuguese has helped me pick up Spanish with relative ease and has made French and Italian much easier understand. Afrikaans has on the other hand makes Dutch and Flemish easy to understand and means that I can understand the gist of a German conversation without needing to understand every single word.
  2. Knowing Portuguese and English got me a job in a Brazilian company, which for them was a usefull skill as the company did not have that many people who spoke Portuguese and English fluently. Afrikaans came into play as well when I worked with this company in Mozambique and all our subcontractors were South African, and some of the key people were Afrikaans.
  3. Maybe the ability of knowing these languages has enabled me to learn other languages not related to English, Portuguese and Afrikaans, as I am able to pick up languages with relative ease. I managed to pick up a lot of Greek when I lived with an aunt married to a Greek in the UK, and it also helped that I had many (maybe too many) Greek friends at university. I also managed to pick up a lot of Arabic whilst living in the United Arab Emirates and Libya even managing to write and read a little.
  4. Being able to speak Spanish definitely helped me when travelling in Spanish speaking countries like Guatemala and Peru, as I was able to understand when people were trying to rip me off or being able to find decent priced meals after speaking to locals. However in Peru, I realised that it also meant I knew exactly what the tour guide was saying in Spanish and realising that he completely mistranslated everything in English.

So what is the biggest benefit of learning another language? I struggle to decide between money (job related), travel and intelligence.

Even though I didn’t mention love, I’ve seen that during my travels I’ve come across so many international couples who would very likely not be together if it were not for a mutual second (at times third) language. The case of my wife and I is perhaps one of those examples as both of us are fluent in English and Portuguese which increased the possibilities of us communicating and eventually starting a relationship.

However I think my vote has got to go with money i.e.  jobs. In an ever increasing globalised world, knowing more than one language (depending on the languages) can be a massive advantage when applying to jobs. Even more so during the current economic crisis in Europe and with youth unemployment levels in Spain and Greece reaching 50%, expatriation is something that someone who speaks their own language and English can consider as an option to avoid mid-term unemployment in tough economic climate which is not looking to improve any time soon.

Personally, speaking more than one language definitely has had its advantages in the workplace and has also given me much more confidence to move abroad and at times take risks when it comes to employment.

Yeah, I think that my vote goes to money.

This entry was posted in Blogging, Expat Life, Language Fails, Random, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Dude, that festa was lekker!* – A polyglot’s entry to the Inspire Language Learning Blogger Competition

  1. Jay says:

    Great to hear your language story, Toni. I had no idea you spoke or had experience in so many languages!

    • Tonito says:

      Thanks Jay! Your post and the Kaplan infographic has actually promoted a lively discussion here between my wife, me and her friends we are staying with in Macau! My wife have already decided we want multilingual kids, with English and Portuguese spoken at home and whatever languages we can get them to learn at school! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Inspire Language Learning Blogger Competition | Kaplan International Colleges

  3. Inês Ribeiro says:

    Gostei muito do raciocínio, faz-me todo o sentido! Já fiz like! 😀

  4. ekremma says:

    That’s why you were the only one who was so interested in learning how to write your name in Arabic, and you did surprise me !

  5. Pingback: Your Tonito needs you (PLEASE!!)! « Travelling Tonito's Adventures

  6. Wow, maar jy is omtrent besig!! Lekker om van al jou adventure’s te lees en wens soms ek kon in jou tas pas…. 🙂 Ons moet nog vir Raquel ontmoet hoor!! Liefde- Groete Meraai van Thabazimbi

  7. Tiago Costa says:

    Grande ponto de vista! Partilho da mesma opinião! 🙂
    Actualmente, encontro-me a aperfeiçoar o meu inglês e tenho estudado japonês! Mas o japonês já requer muito mais dedicação, por ser uma língua que funciona de forma diferente do português e do inglês, e devido à escrita, que é bastante complexa (usando os caracteres deles)! Conviver com um japonês nativo seria meio caminho andado para uma melhor compreensão e aprendizagem, mas como infelizmente não me é possível, fico-me pela aprendizagem autodidacta, por agora…

    • Tonito says:

      Obrigado Tiago! Sim imagino que o Japones deve ser muito mas dificil para aprender porque nem tens uma base de comparacao a Portugues! E concordo, viver com o nativo sera uma boa maneira de aprender a lingua, foi assim comecei aprender muito grego! 🙂 Obrigado pelo commentario!

  8. Omar says:

    Realy Loved it Tonito… Nice article, reminded me of Lebanon’s famous phrase “Hi, kifak, ça va? “… I’m even now thinking on joining one of the British Dating Agencies :p….

  9. Lauren Pereira says:

    Oi Tonito, me gusto beaucoup your blog entry!

    After growing up in “Spanglish” Miami, being in a “Franglais” relationship, and working in “Portuñol” at Odebrecht, I can definitely relate!!

  10. Joe says:

    Grande Tonito, partilho da mesma opinião que tu, pois falar-mos mais que uma língua é uma vantagem nos dias que correm 🙂 …. Além do mais foi o facto de de possuir conhecimento de outras línguas que me permitiu a internacionalização, e claro, conter a minha esposa e amigos que tenho pelos cantos que passei :).
    Aquele abraço e obrigado por partilhares esta história rica da tua vida.

  11. Fábio Ribeiro says:

    Nice text Tonito! I totally agree with all I’ve read and for today I only speak 02 languages fluently, but udnerstand a bit of 02 others, now I have the ultimate challenge with trying to learn some Arabic (and here goes an extra effoprt to actually being fluent at this one too…).

    Thumbs up!!!!

  12. Tonito says:

    Thanks Fabio! You know that I tried with Arabic and it was a lot easier than I thought, though like you said, becoming fluent is much harder.

Thoughts? Let me know! :)

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