My name is Anna Sofia and I'm a 17-year-old girl from Brazil. My parents were both born in Brazil, and so were my grand parents on my father’s side. However, my mother’s side is Argentinian and that's why my mum lived twenty years there. My great-grandparents were from Italy, Syria, Germany and Switzerland so as you can see, it is a mixture!
French, Spanish, Portuguese and English are the languages spoken in my community, and I have learned all of them at school and at home.
Spanish is my mother tongue. Since I was a little baby my mother always spoke to me in this language and this is why I'm so familiar with it.
Portuguese is the language spoken in my country and by most of my family. I speak English and French to talk to my friends who live abroad.
I believe that the languages and cultures that best represent me are the Brazilian and the Argentinian culture. I feel free, I'm not shy when I express myself in those languages. When I have to be sweet, I use Portuguese because Brazilian people are very calm and have their own special way to do things. We call it "the jeitinho brasileiro".
When I’m angry, I speak Spanish so every time I start to fight or when I’m mad about something I use it. Maybe it’s because of my family; they all speak loud and complain in Spanish when they are not feeling well! With my mother we switch languages so it’s hard for an outsider to understand us. We can start a conversation in Portuguese, keep on in Spanish and finish it in Portuguese.
I’m not very fond of German and Turkish. It’s not that I hate those languages but because I have the impression that people don’t speak - they make noises, unpleasant harsh noises in fact. It’s very hard for me to imagine people being sweet in those languages.
In my opinion all foreign languages should be fostered. It’s very nice to go abroad and manage to talk with people in their own language! It’s also good when you have to read a book, or a poem in its original version. Books written in French for example, don’t have the same meaning in Portuguese.
The most common languages that Brazilian people study are English and Spanish. In my school, students can choose between learning Spanish or German, while English is obligatory.
As for me, I believe that people in my country have to learn a foreign language, not just for fun or tourism but for having a good job; speaking many languages gives you a better social and cultural status. Nowadays, any “plus” in you curriculum makes a difference, and knowing many languages is a big one.
Sometimes, there can be a little difference in the way people consider some languages in certain regions. Here for instance, learning English would be better considered than learning Russian for example. This is due to the use that people will give to the language: English is more spoken in the whole world than Russian. . Brazilian people, are used to the Anglo-Saxon culture and to English. As it is the language of global communication, English is taught is most good schools and is present in our everyday life through movies, food, television and in the newspapers.
A new language comes with a new culture. A Brazilian person, who learns French, will have to get used to the different way of seeing life and acting that French people have; they are quieter and don’t express their feeling to everyone. I believe that thanks to the education I had, it’s become very easy to get used to new cultures and ways of living.
São Paulo is a very rich city because you can find many cultures in the same place; Japanese, German, Portuguese and Italian people, among others. This can sound a little bit weird, but that’s the result of immigration; restaurants and neighbourhoods from many nationalities.
When you start to learn a new language or culture there are many challenges. First of all, the accent and grammar. Next, and certainly the biggest challenge; the fear of making mistakes when you communicate with a native. In my opinion it is possible to create an identity in a foreign language. Maybe, it can be hard to express yourself but this is not going to change the way you are or the way you act. I am myself when I speak English. Perhaps sometimes I don’t feel very comfortable but my personality doesn’t change, I am who I am in every language or circumstance.