I was amazed at discovering the incredible world of polyglots, or hyperglots, of which I literally knew nothing about. They are people who know six languages and more, sometimes even twenty languages and more.
The American teenager Tim Doner is one of them. He taught himself Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Persian and a plethora of other eastern languages and dialects, together with European ones.
Here is his Ted Teen Talk, in which among other things he focuses on the real meaning of knowing foreign languages, and on the importance of it.
By the way, he was just seventeen at the time.
I found the conclusion of his talk, on the meaning and importance of learning foreign languages, very poignant, but I was struck too by what he says about all the foreign languages that surround us everywhere all the time and that we simply ignore, or choose to ignore. These words made me think, because here in Italy too we are now (it didn't use to be like that just a few decades ago) surrounded by an increasing number of languages we know absolutely nothing about, nor seem to want to know anything about.
I also discovered an Italian polyglot from Rome, my own city by the way, Luca Lampariello.
Here is an interesting exchange in different languages he has with another polyglot, the Canadian Steve Kaufmann. You can watch the video in eight different languages, I stopped after part five (which is Italian, by the way). Although I know just a few basics of Spanish, French and German, it was fun listening to them speak in those languages and realize that I could understand more than I would have expected.
And you, how far could you go?
As I said at the beginning of the post, I am absolutely amazed by these extraordinary people and at what they do, and if you are interested in language learning there is so much they can teach you about this field, all coming from direct personal experience.
As far as I am concerned:
- I have always been interested in languages, although I am not, by all means, a polyglot!
- There is so much I can learn from these people about learning and teaching (and yes, I am a teacher);
- There is also so much I would like to say about my personal language learning experience;
- I would like to go deeper into my attitude towards languages and language learning and teaching, including in the list also "dead" languages;
- I feel brave enough at the moment to get out of my comfort zone and explore new territory (new and challenging language experience).
So, this post is just the beginning of a series (at least I hope so).
And yes, we do use more than one language in this blog!