Interview with Vladimir Skultety from Forever a Student

Today I have the pleasure to feature my interview to Vladimir Skultety from Slovakia. Many of you know of him because of this video:

Thing is, after this interview I became highly surprised and I find him as a true inspiration. As someone highly interested in breaking down barriers and fighting the fear of the unknown, he has become someone I look up to due to his interest and persistance to learn a certain language, as you would see.

So, without further ado…

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Can you tell me a bit about yourself? What is your main occupation?
My name is Vladimir Skultety, I have a Master’s degree in International relations and diplomacy, a Bachelor’s in Chinese studies and work as an interpreter of English, Slovak and Mandarin Chinese. I also give lectures about language learning and Chinese and have a youtube channel and a blog related to language learning.
How did you become involved with languages? Did anyone motivate you?
I grew up speaking several languages as a child and continued learning as I grew older.
Have your family, loved ones and friends been supportive with your language interests?
Yes, my family has been very supportive. Even though I’m Slovak, my mom has decided to put me into a Hungarian kindergarten so that I would learn Hungarian and later sent me to her sister in the USA and her cousins in Austria to learn English and German, while I was still very young. My grandmother’s sister gave me French lessons every Friday after school.
How did you start your journey with Chinese?
When I was studying at the International relations department, some professors said that it would be a good idea to learn this language as not a lot of people in the diplomatic corps spoke it.
It really called my attention that your blog is named “Forever a student” (an inspiring phrase, I must say). How did you come up with it?
It has two meanings actually. The first one is, that I love learning new things and I’m always interested and curious and I hope I can stay like this forever. The other funny meaning is, that in Slovakia, when someone is in college for too long, or studies too many degrees like I have is often called an ‘eternal student’ which is a funny name for someone who avoids work buy staying in school.
Have you ever faced a hard moment while learning languages? How did you overcome it?
Many times. Especially with Mandarin Chinese. I faced moments like this more times than I can remember. I would take a break and wait for motivation to come back naturally and then fully concentrate on my studies again.
What languages are you currently interested in right now? How do you practice them? What are your techniques for that/those language(s)?
I’m not learning any languages, only trying to ‘stay fit’ in the languages I speak, especially Italian and Hungarian. I try to make learning as natural and stress-free as possible, so I only do that what is fun and relaxing. I usually call my friends and we chat for hours.
Are you interested in a certain language that you know, more or less, you won’t be able to study?
No, not really. I mostly study languages for very practical reasons. It’s usually for work of because I will travel, live or study in the country where the language is spoken.
Can you tell me a short, positive and funny anecdote about your language learning history?
I had a very nice experience in Hungary recently. The relations between Hungary and Slovakia are unfortunately complicated, often with a lot of emotions on both sides. I am Slovak but speak fluent Hungarian, which is not very usual and I made a video in which I spoke Hungarian and it was very well received in Hungary. The video managed to get to many newspapers and TV news reports and I think even some politicians and TV personalities talked about it. I received a lot of emails and comments from Hungary saying that it was very nice to see a Slovak person learn Hungarian so well. One comment that I thought stood out was, that ‘one young Slovak man speaking Hungarian did more for the Slovak-Hungarian relations than all Slovak and Hungarian politicians together in the past 20 years’ and even though some might say it’s nothing special for me personally it honestly was one of the greatest successes of my life.
Thank you so much Vladimir for this nice interview!