A Teenage Hyperpolyglot




guy Hebrew eavesdrop
Hindi free time tongue (2)
lust passion teach himself
Farsi awkward Mandarin Chinese
benefit keep up lead/led/led
ancient obscure mainstream
find linguistics hide/hid/hidden
insult Objibwe incredible (2)
dialect respond most of the time







While most teenagers spend their free time playing video games, eating fast food with friends or playing sports, Timothy Doner has another passion: the sixteen (16) year old New Yorker teaches himself languages.

And he can already speak twenty-three (23).

Timothy Doner, Hyperpolyglot: “Some of the languages that I speak or have studied are French, Latin, Ancient Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Hindi.”

His lust for languages began when he learned Hebrew to keep up with his favorite Israeli dance music. That led him to Arabic and Farsi, and then mainstream European languages. He has even learned Native American, and a host of obscure African dialects.

But there are a few hidden benefits to speaking so many tongues.

Timothy Doner, Hyperpolyglot: “Learning a serious number of languages kind of helps you become a bit of an eavesdropper.

I find that most of the time, I accidentally follow people, perhaps a little bit longer than I should, listening into their conversations.

It can also be incredibly awkward. I’ve listened to people insult me in foreign languages. And I’ve been able to respond to them and say, ‘Hey, I speak it as well’.”

Doner is now what linguists say is a hyperpolyglot. Now try saying that in 23 different languages.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *



English. Tim Doner is a middle-aged professor at a university. True or false? Who is Tim Doner? How old is he? Where does he live?

Spanish. Do most teenagers study foreign languages in their free time?

Chinese. As an American, Tim can only speak English. Is this correct or incorrect? How many languages can he speak?

French. Does he only study European languages such as French and German?

Portuguese. Was Mandarin Chinese the first foreign language he studied? Did he learn Hebrew to attend a university in Israel?

Russian. Strangers always say, “Hello. How are you?” to him in their own language. Is this right or wrong?

Arabic. Is living in New York City helpful in learning foreign languages?


Italian. Do you think Tim is a genius (very smart) with natural talent and ability; he studies very, very much; he is very passionate and enthusiastic about learning other languages; he uses secret methods and techniques; or some or all of the above?

German. How many languages can you speak? How did you learn them?

Hindi, Urdu. My friends can speak many languages. Yes or no? Have you met anyone who can speak many languages? Who is the language learning champion? What is their secret?

Turkish. Are the people in your city monolingual, bilingual or multilingual? Are there different people in your city or country who speak different languages?

Polish. If you could speak any languages fluently, what languages would you like to speak? If I could speak many different languages fluently, I would like to know . . . . . . . . .

Greek. What will happen in the future?

Japanese. People should study languages instead of only socializing, partying, drinking, listening to loud music, driving luxury cars. What do you think?


Comments are closed.