Five languages and counting


Photo Credit: Githmie Goonatilleke

Stella Pereira knows 5 languages including English, Portuguese, German, Spanish and Italian

by Githmie Goonatilleke, Senior Staff Writer

The common stereotypical high school student only knows English with a superficial understanding of another language gathered from class. However, Stella Pereira knows five.

Pereira, a sophomore, is fluent in German, Portuguese and English and knows conversational Spanish and Italian. Because her mother is from Germany and her father is from Portugal, Pereira learned how to speak both German and Portuguese at a young age. 

Around 4th grade, Pereira began to learn English and Spanish. Since Spain is next to Portugal and because her family would visit the country often, Stella learned the language too. At her school in Germany, Stella learned English. Recently, Stella also learned Italian through an online course. Since Pereira is friendly with a variety of Italians, her experience with the language allows her to converse with them with ease and additionally learn from them as well. 

Pereira and her family moved to Glen Rock in 2010. Prior to that they had lived in Portugal since 2004 and before that they lived in Germany.

According to Pereira, she didn’t really learn English until she moved here. “I knew some phrases and words but I wasn’t fluent,” Pereira said.

Stella’s mom, Cornelia Pereira, is also fluent in German and English and speaks conversational Portuguese and French. Cornelia learned French because in most European countries students have to learn both English and another language.

Cornelia believes Stella’s experience with other languages will “give her a lot of advantages in the future.”

Most individuals are only bilingual. However there are people who call themselves polyglots. A polyglot is someone who knows more than six languages, fluently. Roughly 1% of the world population are polyglots.

For Pereira becoming a polyglot isn’t a huge goal, but if she does become a polyglot she would consider it a great accomplishment.

“If I feel like learning more languages I’ll learn more languages. If it happens, it happens,” Pereira said.