iOS app Android app

Teen Polyglot Speaks 23 Different Languages (WATCH)

Posted: 03/27/2012 3:26 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 3:26 pm

Timothy Doner

If you thought learning one foreign language was confusing enough, try learning over 20 by the time you graduate high school. One incredible student, 16-year-old Timothy Doner, is the world's youngest polyglot, putting all our of language-learning skills to shame. Timothy speaks 23 languages, to be exact. By teaching himself over summer vacations and on weekends, he has achieved fluency in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Italian, Farsi and Swahili, among many other languages. When asked by The Today Show's Matt Lauer how he keeps up with his language lessons, Doner said, "Like any other academic interest, you make time for it."

Doner first became interested in language while studying Hebrew for his bar mitzvah. He then moved on to Arabic, which he learned to read in one week. From there, he became self-taught in dozens of other languages via grammar books and flashcard applications on his iPhone. Timothy was inspired by a YouTube video by fellow polyglot Richard Simcott, which featured him speaking 16 languages in a row.

According to some linguists, it's becoming increasingly common for language enthusiasts to use YouTube as a platform to learn and showcase their skills. Timothy records his own videos each time he masters a new language, and recently posted his 11th YouTube video, which shows him speaking Hindi. Timothy practices his language skills in the real-world by speaking with New York City cab drivers, interacting with others at restaurants and connecting with people around the world via e-mail and Skype.

FOLLOW TEEN

Filed by Carolyn Gregoire  |