A Dozen Languages




receive pretty (2) speak/spoke/spoken
invite hard (2) cheap/cheaper/cheapest
part principal buy/bought/bought
decide souvenir find/found/found
meal poverty poor/poorer/poorest
get up difficult spend/spent/spent (2)
temple discover sell/sold/sold
flute survive good/better/best
cheap enough sing/sang/sung
fluent foreign nationality
entire instead know/knew/known
half play (3) opportunity
crazy magnet chance (2)
adult donation scholarship
ton staff (2) at that time
still (2) principle send/sent/sent
visit empower get/got/got-gotten
proper multiple formal (2)
future post (3) remote (2)
hope look for go/went/gone
escape obvious expensive






In Cambodia, there is a boy who can speak not just one or two or five languages — but 12 different languages.

Thu Salik, Student: “Miss, you are pretty. These magnets are pretty, and cheaper if you buy more than one magnet. It’s five for two dollars.”

Really hard ones like Russian, Korean and even Chinese.

Who is this boy?

Why does he speak 12 languages?

And is he going to learn every language in the world?

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

In this house in the remote country of Cambodia, I found Salik.

Thu Salik, Student: “My name is Thu Salik. I am seventeen years old.

And I can speak twelve languages.”

For most of his life, he lived in one of the poorest parts of Cambodia, spending most of his day selling souvenirs to tourists.

So instead of going to school like other kids, Salik had to work, just so that his family could have a meal on the table.

Thu Salik, Student: “Because my family was very poor, that’s why I had the idea to help my family. At that time, I started selling souvenirs to help my parents.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Every morning he would get up, go to the nearby temples and sell to the tourists.

Until one day he discovered something about himself: he discovered that he’s really good at languages.

Thu Salik, Student: “Do you want to buy from me? Five magnets for two dollars. If you buy, I’ll sing for you.”

No matter if it’s Chinese,

Thu Salik, Student: “One dollar for this flute.


Thu Salik, Student: “It is one dollar for this!”

or French.

Thu Salik, Student: “Do you want to buy one magnet? One dollar for one magnet. “Magnet?
Reporter: “Are the magnets expensive?”
Thu Salik, Student: “No, the are not expensive. They’re cheap.”
Reporter: “They’re cheap?”
Thu Salik, Student: Yes, please buy from me. I don’t have enough money to go to school.”

Salik could sing the foreign words to songs fluently.

Thu Salik, Student: “The reason that I decided to study twelve languages is because in our place, there were so many tourists of different nationalities. And if I knew those languages, it helps me to sell well.”

So he asked every tourist to teach him a new word. And from the thousands of tourists that he helped, he learned an entire language. Yes, everything he learned was not from any class; it was just from listening to tourists.

Thu Salik, Student: “Hello. How are you? At that time, I studied half the day, and I helped my parents sell the other half.

That time, I wanted to play just like the other kids. But I didn’t have the chance to play because I had to sell souvenirs to tourists.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

One day someone filmed Salik speaking multiple languages, and uploaded the video online.

Suddenly the internet went crazy about a boy selling souvenirs in Cambodia who could speak more languages than adults.

He got on the news received tons of donations and even a scholarship to a university in China.

Thu Salik, Student: “At first the school principal saw my video on Facebook. He then sent his staff to look for me in Cambodia.

The school also invited me and my family to visit China for five days.”

And the next thing he knew, he was on a plane to China.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Now he is getting a formal education so that he can make proper money to help his family, his future kids and his future grandkids escape poverty.

Thu Salik, Student: “I’ve been in China for twenty-eight days. If it hadn’t been that lady who took a video of me and posted it on Facebook, I think I would still be selling souvenirs now, and life would still be very difficult.”

If it wasn’t obvious by now, tourists are the reason this kid has a scholarship to study in China.

Tourism is how his family survived and will continue to survive covet 19 is killing tourism, but it’s also killing opportunities like this one.

Let’s hope for a world where people can travel freely, learn from each other freely and empower each other to be better.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


French. Salik can speak two language: Cambodian and English. True or false? Is Salik twelve years old?

Chinese. Are there lots of manufacturing, finance and high-tech industries in his town?

Spanish. Salik’s father is probably an engineer and his mother is a business woman. What do you think?

Korean. Salik is the best student in his class and school. Is this right or wrong? Did he go to school every day?

Italian. What sort of things did he sell? Are all the tourists American?

Russian. Was Salik a good businessman (salesman)? What was his sales secret? What was his secret to selling?

Portuguese. Did he play a lot? Did he often play games and sports? How did he spend his time?

Arabic. Salik videoed himself selling and speaking different languages and uploaded it on YouTube. Is this correct or incorrect?

Japanese. What happened to him? What is he going to do?

Hindi, Urdu. What does the presenter recommend?
Persian, Farsi. I can speak many different languages. Yes or no? Can your friends speak many different languages? Who knows the most languages?

Greek. Do many tourists visit your town, city, region or country? Where do they come from?

Thai. I have spoken to foreigners (besides me). True or false?

Vietnamese. Should more people travel to more different countries?

Polish. What might happen in the future?

Turkish. How can people learn many different languages?

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