High Schooler Timothy Doner Taught Himself 23 Different Languages

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A high schooler in Manhattan has captured the attention of many after he uploaded videos of him speaking multiple different languages, learning them in just a few weeks.

Timothy Doner, 17, is a polyglot who has learned 23 different languages over the years. Each one takes him just a couple of months to learn.

He attends the Dalton School and lives in the East Village. Though he has learned French from when he was young, he mostly learns other languages all on his own, utilizing books and movies to perfect his skill.

So far, he has learned some pretty obscure languages, notably Wolof, which is spoken in Gambia, Swahili and Native American language Ojibwe.

He also knows common European languages like French, Spanish, Italian and German.

He started uploading videos of himself speaking different languages onto YouTube, and that's when he was prompted to learn more after commenters praised him for his talent.

Doner picked up books and downloaded flashcard apps on his iPhone to help him learn new languages in as little as a few weeks.

One video he uploaded features him speaking 20 consecutive languages. In it, he tells how he met with an Iraqi language partner to improve his Arabic and also watched WWII movies to help with his German.

In 2012, The New York Times featured him in an article, telling of how the then 16-year-old was part of a scattered group of "hyperpolyglots" who pick up and master languages quickly.

Doner said that his ability to speak multiple languages has helped him in many areas of life, including when people have insulted him in other languages, thinking he doesn't speak it.

He recalled a time when he and his father dined at an Israeli restaurant, and a group commented in Hebrew that they were only eating there because they were trying to be cultural.

As the group left, he told them in Hebrew that he was fluent in the language.

"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," he said. 

As his list of languages grows, he only gets more inspired to learn others. Next up is learning to speak Sudanese or Malay.

Sources: Today, Daily Mail