PARENTS

The Teenager Who's Taught Himself 23 Languages

16/04/2013 09:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

As a parent who despairs that his son can barely speak one language – the mother tongue – this story left me truly gobsmacked.

For teenager Timothy Doner has learned 23 different languages.

In addition to the more expected European languages- French, Spanish, Italian, German, the 17-year-old has ventured into some much more remote territories, mastering a number of African dialects.

Timothy began receiving attention from language enthusiasts across the globe when he started posting videos of himself speaking in the different dialects on YouTube.

Urged on by enthusiastic commenters, he continued his work, largely teaching himself new languages in either a few weeks or months with the help of instructional books and flashcard apps on his iPhone.

In one video where he speaks from 20 consecutive languages, he also mentions how he meets with an Iraqi language partner to perfect his Arabic and watched WWII movies to help him learn German.

"Learning a serious number of languages kind of helps you become a bit of an eavesdropper. I find most of the time that I accidentally follow people perhaps for a little bit longer than I should," said the polyglot, from New York.

TIMOTHYY'S LIST OF LANGUAGES

English

French

Hausa

Wolof

Russian

German

Yiddish

Hebrew

Arabic

Pashto

Farsi

Mandarin

Italian

Turkish

Indonesian

Dutch

isiXhosa

Swahili

Hindi

Ojibwe

Persian

Croatian

Spanish

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Teenagers
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