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Monday, May 14, 2012

Tim Doner, an amazing polyglot.

When Timothy Doner, a 12 year old boy in New York City, was being instructed in Biblical Hebrew in preparation for his bar mitzvah, he became fascinated with the language.

So he decided to learn Modern Hebrew.

He bought a grammar book and found someone with whom to speak. In a few weeks he was speaking on a high level.

Subsequently, he did the same thing with Arabic. In one week he learned how to read and write in Arabic.

He has since, as of this writing, done this with 23 languages.

If you go to youtube you will find several videos of him speaking in some of these languages including such perennial favorites as Ojibwe, a Native American language spoken by less than 9,000 people currently.

I have never met Tim but I have watched all of his videos, listened to interviews with him by the CBC, BBC and other media, as well as read newspaper accounts about him. His first became widely known by an article in the NY Times entitled " Adventure of a teenage polyglot".

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/nyregion/a-teenage-master-of-languages-finds-online-fellowship.html?pagewanted=all

After reading this article several times I went to youtube and watched all of his videos.

While I am hardly fluent in any of the languages on the videos I am able to do a decent job speaking several of them. My sense is that Tim has done an amazing job of learning and that his speaking ability is admirable especially for someone who has spent a scant few weeks on some of the languages.

My secretary is a native Russian speaker. She watched the video of him speaking Russian and commented that while he made several mistakes his performance was exceptional.

I can more than hold my own in Modern Hebrew and am very impressed with how he speaks this language in the videos.

Luca Lampariello and I are good friends. I have written about Luca elsewhere on this blog and consider him to not only be a superb polyglot but also a wonderful student of language learning/teaching methodology, my favorite area of interest in all of this.

It turns out that Luca and Tim hung out together in Paris while Tim was visiting. They arranged to create a series of videos which will be posted on youtube and also be transcribed so they can appear on Luca's blog, http://thepolyglotdream.com/

Anyone interested in language learning would do well to follow Luca's blog.

The boy knows what he is talking about and, what is more, can actually teach you to do what he has accomplished which is quite a lot.

Recently, Luca interviewed Tim Doner about how he learns languages.

I listened to and provided some feedback on the initial  interview.

After it is released I will be writing a few posts on my impressions of how Tim does what he does so well.


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