Hi, everyone! My name is Mark from the Philippines.
I belong to the Chinese minority in my country, and I grew up speaking four languages, as is usual for the people in my community. My native languages are English and Tagalog, but I also speak Philippine Hokkien as a heritage language. I spent the first half of my life learning Mandarin Chinese at school until my college years. Growing up, I always had an interest in foreign languages and culture, but back then, we didn’t have as much exposure and opportunities for cultural immersion. As a result, my knowledge was limited to the encyclopedias at home and a not-so-reliable Internet connection.
When I was a junior in college, I made the decision to study in Japan, an experience that totally opened my mind to the world of language learning. I finally got to fully immerse myself in a foreign culture away from my comfort zone and even learned the language intensively as a part of our student exchange curriculum. When I returned to the Philippines, I had a roughly A2-B1 knowledge in the language and was able to communicate with some of the Japanese exchange students studying at my university. Moreover, I soon found out that Korean grammar is quite similar to Japanese grammar, so I studied it by myself to help me better communicate with the Korean students at the English program in my university. After seeing their positive reactions and realizing that being able to or making any attempts communicate in the native language of the person you’re talking to makes a positive impact, I started to keep learning more languages on the side and never looked back.
In 2016, I quit my job in the corporate world and joined a volunteer program in Poland. I had learned a little bit of Polish over the Internet prior to my trip, and it had really helped a lot in getting around the country and even making a lot of friends along the way. When I got home, I decided to branch out from the Asian languages I was more accustomed to and start learning more European languages. The following year, I learned Spanish and Portuguese and used them to reconnect and communicate with my friends from Latin America.
Now, I work as a language instructor (online for now as face-to-face classes are currently prohibited in my country due to the pandemic) and am working towards an M.A. in Anthropology. I’d like to use my knowledge in foreign languages to help bridge people together and open their minds to a world of opportunities. I currently speak eight languages (English, Tagalog, Mandarin, Philippine Hokkien, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese) and am learning French, Italian, Polish, Russian, Thai, and Quechua.
I’d love to get to know all of you more! Sending you my warmest greetings from Manila!