Meeting Teenage Polyglot Tim Doner in New York
Hello, my name is Jan van der Aa and today we are in New York to visit a very special friend. This time we went to New York to visit Tim Doner, a teenage polyglot that speaks over 20 languages. Tim recorded tutorials of himself speaking in many different languages, including Arabic, Swahili, Hebrew, Indonesian, Russian and a few others. He published these tutorials on this YouTube channel a few years ago and after that he got feathered on several American TVshows. Since I do speak a few languages myself, I was very excited for this multilingual meet up.
Good morning, viewers! My name is Tim, I’m here in New York, in Central Park with my friend from Holland, Jan, and today we are going to talk about a number of different topics. Tim, first of all thanks for having me here in New York. What happened after the publicity, After all those tutorials on national television, on YouTube, 2 million views on the tutorial in which you spoke 20 or 23 languages. What happed after that A lot of good things I would say, definitely. I had a lot of great opportunities to meet different people.
I guess I met a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. At the same time too it was a little tough. Because I think a lot of that publicity is very sensationalist. So a lot of people where interested in just having a cool headline ”Kid speaks 20 languages”, You became very famous, do you get recognized on the streets Can you give us a few examples, maybe of funny experiences. Yeah, I have had a few funny ones. Actually when I was in Berlin over the summer, I was there with friends kind of late getting pizza.
This kid comes up to me and started speaking to me in Arabic And this was in Berlin This is in Berlin, yeah. So even in Berlin they recognize you. Actually he was Syrian, he just moved to Berlin from Syria and he started talking to me, he was really kind. I talked with this kid for about an hour, we had a really interesting chat and we have been good friends for the next week. How many messages do you get per day Between Facebook, YouTube and other platforms between 50 and 100. It’s kind of tough to.
And what do they ask you, what is the thing that they want to know. Because I think this is a good opportunity to tell them, you know, Now you can share it. What do they ask you for example, how do you learn languages Yeah I mean I get all ranges of it, definitely languages, how do you learn Can you help me learn English Or some very specific questions like, ”I am learning French, can you explain this to me, or can you tell me how to pronounce this or that.
Tim took me to one of his favorite bookstores in New York to show us which resources that he uses to learn languages. Which ones do you have, what do you use Definitely Teach Yourself, good stuff. Pimsleur is really good. For which languages do you use Pimsleur I used to use it for Dutch, and Pashto, and I think one or two others. I still remember the stuff pretty well about 3 years later. Thus far the bookstore. Now back to Central Park where Tim explains to us how he learns languages.
I think it differs for every language depending on how much work I have. So for example what I try to do, is to make it as organic as possible, so I try to. Do as much audio listening as I can, looking to things like new reports, listening to audioprograms and music. I just make it as relaxed and normal as possible. I just take what I like doing and I in cooperate languages into that. So for example if you like cooking, why not get a cookbook in a foreign language, or why not watch cooking shows in that language.
Things like that don’t make it really intensive but still make it so that you learn a language incrementally. As you can hear, Tim uses that he finds relaxing and enjoyable. Time to speak in a few languages that we have in common. Do you have Dutch friends here as well, or Do you learn it by Skype, or from German Yes, I have friends from Holland that I met in Berlin when I was there. She was from Amsterdam, and we spoke in a mix of English, Dutch and German.
Like a mix of all languages. Exactly, it’s a language that I like to practice and improve in the future but I have no time now. So you are going to improve it and if I come back to New York we can make a tutorial in Dutch. Definitely, that’s a promise Nice, let’s do that Where have you learnt German, in Berlin Last summer I stayed in Berlin, I had German classes every day. But I learnt it more with books. Before I came to Germany, I studied that home with books, my computer etc.
And after that I also had the chance to speak German. There is a teacher in my school who is from Germany. So you can speak German with him. Yes, but unfortunately I would like to practice more. I have forgotten a lot. Did you learn Chinese at school Yes, I have been learning Chinese for about two or three years. I don’t think that my speak Chinese on a high level. Chinese is a bit tricky, I also don’t write the characters very well. Because, you have learnt many languages by yourself right but Chinese you learnt with a teacher.