Interview with Livia Ottisova (Loran Scholar ’03) in The Guardian.
Languages have been part of my life from a very early age. I’m Slovakian, and although my family lived in the capital Bratislava, at the age of four I was taken on a half hour bus ride across the Austrian border every day so I could attend a kindergarten where everything was done in German. It effectively became my first language.
After the revolution in my country, we immigrated to Canada. No one spoke Slovak and not many people spoke German, so I had to learn English from scratch at the age of 12. It was quite exciting but also quite scary, because of the sense you have as an immigrant in a totally new country of not belonging. Despite sometimes feeling daunted, I placed a lot of faith in what people told me about children learning languages easily.