If a 17 year old polyglot can do it, with 23 self-taught languages under his belt, then anyone can. Starting with Hebrew as his first foreign language, Timothy Doner memorized lyrics from Israeli hip hop songs and repeated them to other people until he was able to construct sentences. Talking to taxi drivers, street vendors, and people across the world on Skype, he has mastered each individual language in just a few weeks. A huge fan of the internet, he finds that being able to contact people from all over the world at any time is a great learning tool. He uses online forums to talk with other people and flashcard apps on his iPhone to help him with the learning process. As well as the usual, expected, European languages such as French, German and Spanish, this amazing teenager has learned obscure languages such as isiXhosa which is an official language of South Africa and is comprised of clicking noises specific to that language.

It’s believed that there is a universal grammar which underlies all languages but there is no doubt that a simplistic and positive approach has definitely helped Timothy conquer his linguistic abilities. Through sheer determination he now holds the title of ‘hyperpolyglot’ being one of a select demographic of linguists who have this capability. Living in the cultural melting pot that is New York, Timothy has access to numerous languages from different nationalities and is clearly determined to use this wealth of knowledge to his advantage. With the two languages of Sudanese and Malay next on his agenda, this talented individual clearly doesn’t intend to stop learning any time soon.

So, you can see how it can be done, that it has been done, and now it’s your turn. Learning a new language is easier than you think; you just need the right motivation and perseverance. An obscure South African language is probably not the greatest choice to start with, so how about something a little closer to home. One of the more traditional languages learned, why not enrol in some German classes in Edinburgh to start you on your linguistic journey!