It is not often we get to say nice things about celebrities. Usually when they’re doing something good, we see it as an act of self-promotion and little else. Or perhaps we’re just a little jealous of their lifestyle and are being generally unkind. We will leave that for you to decide.
However. This week, we would like to bring to your attention someone who we are delightfully surprised to be giving the title of Language Hero. And here is why.
Language hero: Cristiano Ronaldo
Where our hero is from: Portugal
Native language: Portuguese
Spoken languages: Ronaldo himself says that in the locker room, he speaks a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and German, and there are numerous videos out there on Youtube of him speaking Russian. That is quite the eclectic mix! For those of you not already in the know, French, Spanish and Portuguese are Latin, or Romance languages, English and German, Germanic, and Russian, Slavic. That is three entirely separate language roots to master, which is quite a feat indeed.
Best known for: Unless you live under a rock, you’ll already know that Ronaldo is touted as being one of the best football players of all time. As well as captaining his native Portugal in international matches, he currently plays for Real Madrid in Spain as a forward.
Why he’s our language hero this week: This video warms our hearts and makes us think a little more fondly of Ronaldo than we previously have done. In the clip, a boy is attempting to interview him in Portuguese, which is not the boy’s native language. The boy is stuttering, and murmuring, nervous in front of his hero and clearly falling over his words.
What happens next is magic. The press are tittering in that mocking way that they do, and the general noise level is growing louder and more disruptive. Ronaldo calmly turns, turning the laughter on the journalists themselves, and asks why they are laughing, because the boy is doing well, and more importantly, he is trying. There seems to be genuine bafflement from him as to why they would laugh at someone actually giving a foreign language a try.
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What we particularly love about this video is that it shows encouragement for language learning from an unexpected source. Ronaldo is already well-known as a football role model, that goes without saying. But in this case he’s also a role model for learning languages. By supporting the boy during the interview, he is showing both him, and a wider audience, that making language mistakes are perfectly okay; just as long as you keep on trying. It is so important to have such noticeable language ambassadors; what better way to motivate you to learn a language than to have one of your heroes cheering you on?
Setting an example
Ronaldo is also a perfect example of how good you can get at a language by continuing to practice at it. After all, you don’t become semi- or completely fluent in five languages beside your own mother tongue, without putting a little effort in, now do you?
There are many videos out there making fun of Ronaldo when he himself was getting to grips with English; and look how far he has come. Perhaps he is not perfect. But he isn’t afraid to try, which is key. It is pretty incredible to watch his early attempts with English in post-match interviews, when compared with how comfortable he is giving them today.
Ronaldo’s perseverance with his own mastery of language just reinforces how crucial it is to keep trying, even if you do make mistakes. Now if that isn’t the perfect prompt for you to get your teeth into a little language learning yourself, we really don’t know what is!
Ronaldo, we salute you!