She learned a language she LOVED—then learned another language for LOVE.

Meet Antonia, also known as MissRichito on YouTube. I came across her channel in my quest for Spanish resources and knew I just had to learn her story and share it with you guys! 

BGLL: Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story. I’m sure it will inspire others. Tell us about yourself. 

Antonia: My name is Antonia and I’m Jamaican-American, hailing from New Jersey. I have a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, a double Master’s in Educational Leadership and Teaching.  I’m a Bilingual Chemistry teacher, teaching Chemistry to students who are new to the United States (have lived here for 3 years or less) and whose native languages are either Spanish or Portuguese. In addition to my native English, I speak Spanish, Portuguese and currently learning German. As a result, I offer tutoring and consulting services in a variety of areas in education. 

I also have a YouTube Channel, and the goal with that is to encourage others to pursue language learning and offer helpful tips to guide them in this journey.

BGLL: What made you want to learn those languages? How did you learn them?

Antonia: Well, with Spanish, I took Spanish classes in middle and high school as many people do but I still could not speak any Spanish upon graduating. In college, I took Spanish courses for 4 semesters (one each semester). I learned how to read and write pretty well but still could not speak much Spanish. Well, after graduating, I found a job and transitioned into the "real-world". It was a tough transition for me and I missed the social aspect of college. I would come home around 4PM after work and sit in my apartment alone so I decided I would make that time useful and finally learn Spanish. I found a Spanish speaking church to attend each week, joined the language exchange sites Lang-8 and Italki, and changed every electronic device I owned into Spanish language. I also deleted my English language music off of all my devices and downloaded Spanish music. I became OBSESSED with Spanish. I spent hours each evening talking with people in Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina on Skype. I made friends online and at church and my Spanish improved tremendously. A year later, I interviewed for a Bilingual teaching job and got it! That first year with my students, who were new arrivals to the US, helped improve my Spanish as well! I was using it every day and picked up their phrases, expressions, etc. That was 6 years ago. 

After learning Spanish, I decided to try and pick up Portuguese. I used Italki again to meet and speak with Brazilians online. I also completed grammar books independently and listened to lots of Brazilian music. I am still learning Portuguese and my Portuguese speaking students at work teach me more and more each day!

I just so happened to find an Austrian boyfriend whose native language is German. Haha. As a result, I am learning German in order to better communicate with his family/friends and connect with his mother tongue. Being in an international long-distance relationship means lots of traveling abroad. All the time that I've spent in Austria has encouraged me to learn German so that I can operate more independently on visits and connect better with my boyfriend and his friends/family/culture. I have been learning German for just one year. I started with a beginner German course at an adult school in the evenings for 3 months here in New Jersey. I have used Pimselur in the car, podcasts, watched movies in German with English subtitles, and have begun listening to German music. I also spent 4 weeks in Vienna this past summer taking German classes which were completely taught in German. While there, I had the opportunity to use the German I learned in grocery stores and with locals. Currently, I am working through grammar books and practicing with Pimsleur, friends I made in Vienna, and my boyfriend. I also have an Austrian teacher on Italki with whom I practice conversation and speaking. 

BGLL: Which language is your favorite and why?
Antonia: Well, with I really love the sound of Brazilian Portuguese. The beauty of the language and the people makes it my favorite. It's such an enjoyable language to learn and I really love the carefree, friendly, diverse, and warm nature of the people/culture.

BGLL: What tips would you offer to someone looking to learn another language?

Antonia: BE OBSESSED. Interact with the language in some form EVERY SINGLE DAY. Seriously, choose a language that you really like and that belongs to a culture you really admire. Otherwise, you will have little motivation to interact with it every day. Listen to the music—Find music in your target language. Through music you learn pronunciation and the sound of the language. You get an idea of where words begin and end. And it's fun! Find a church or religious community where the target language is spoken - This goes for everyone. Agnostic, Jewish, Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. The reason I recommend a church is because it is an environment where you can interact with the language in SOOOO many ways. And its FREE PRACTICE! You can speak to the elderly and practice your use of the polite/formal forms. You can speak to children and practice your imperative. You can get a sense of how people greet each other. The first time I attended a Spanish church, I was taken aback by all of the cheek kissing and hugs. I soon learned it was part of the culture. 

BGLL: How can we stay in touch with you?

Subscribe to my YouTube channel! I hope to update my channel with new videos, sharing more about my own language learning journey so please subscribe and check back soon!

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