Teen Polyglot Has Mastered 23 Languages


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Timothy Doner (Credit YouTube screen capture)

New York teen Timothy Doner, has an unusual hobby - He likes to learn languages! And not the way most of us do to get through basic school requirements, but thoroughly enough so that he can conduct a decent conversation. Over the last five years, the 17-year old has been able to master 23! While this has earned him the title of the world's youngest polyglot, he is still not satisfied.

The youngster's quest to learn languages began in 2009 after completing basic Hebrew lessons in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah ceremony. He enjoyed it so much that he decided to become fluent in modern Hebrew. Craving for more, he then picked up Arabic. Within four days, he managed to master the alphabet and by the end of the week, the prowess to read the language fluently. After that, there was no stopping him.

Over the years, he has added Russian, Farsi (Persian), Hausa, Italian Swahili Indonesian, Hindi, Ojibwe, Pashto, Turkish, Kurdish, Yiddish, Dutch, Croatian, Spanish and German to his repertoire of languages. The list does not include the ones that he has taken up at school, which include French, Mandarin, Latin and of course, English. The most amazing part is that he has managed to learn all the additional languages on his own, using just online apps and grammar books.

Tim Doner can speak over 20 languages (Credit: the crimson.com/Connie Yan)

The young polyglot begins by learning how to pronounce the alphabet correctly and then teaching himself the correct grammar. He then augments this by reading newspapers and conversing with people that speak that language, either in person or on Internet chat rooms. In order to attract other people with similar skills and interest, he has even started posting videos of himself speaking different languages on YouTube. Among the polyglots he is now in constant contact with, is 31-year-old Ohio resident Moses McCormick, who has mastered 50 languages!

Timothy whose next goal is to conquer Sudanese and Malay, says that his language skills come in quite handy when he is on the subway, walking around New York City or even while at a restaurant because it allows him to eavesdrop on all kinds of fun and interesting conversations.

Resources: Huffingtonpost.com,dailymail.co.uk,NewYork Dailynews.com

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  • Sky Friday, December 16, 2016 at 8:03 am
    Wow I wish that I could do that.
    • Sky Friday, December 16, 2016 at 8:02 am
      I wish I could do that.
      • AngelFriday, December 16, 2016 at 5:49 am
        Awesome I wish I could speak that much
        • lovintgon Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 9:50 am
          he is amazing...... i will never be able to learn that many languages at his age.
          • hmmmMonday, November 21, 2016 at 5:35 am
            Native Indonesia, fluent in English, learning Japanese and Norwegian :)
            • iifreeze
              iifreezeSaturday, November 5, 2016 at 6:20 pm
              yay it says it in korean i am korean
              • OmgSaturday, November 5, 2016 at 11:26 am
                How does this kid do that?! Is he a Alien or something?!
                • Mr. TomatoSaturday, November 5, 2016 at 10:24 am
                  I know English, some Spanish, and a little ASL
                  • broWednesday, April 20, 2016 at 10:25 am
                    I know a little bit of spanish
                    • lolWednesday, April 20, 2016 at 10:25 am
                      I know english